In his Epilogue and Acknowledgments, Dan Gillmor told us how he included inputs from his readers to this book ~ one of the backbone for open source journalism. Some comments from his friends are worth noted.
One of the most thoughtful early notes was from Tom Stites, an old friend, and an editor who once hired me and later became one of my touchstones in journalism. He said, among other things:
If what you are describing is truly tomorrow’s journalism, I fear that democracy is doomed. I lead with this alarmist statement because as I understand what you’re describing only a tiny elite engages with political/news blogs; democracy needs a *tomorrow’s journalism* that reaches and activates a broad audience. The blog elite I’m describing is not the business/government power elite but a highly educated, deeply curious insider group centered among the technologically proficient. The sad truth is, most people are passive consumers of news who, because of the insider jargon blogs tend to be written in, couldn’t decipher most blogs even if they signed on; the segment of the citizenry that are savvy and proactive newsseekers is very small, and I don’t expect that to change much.
Elwin Jenkins, who writes the always interesting Microdoc News, posted a cautionary suggestion saying I was looking too much at journalism. In a blog posting of his own he concluded: “Bloggers are not journalists, we are information seekers, information builders and knowledge makers. We are more like teachers than journalists.” 319 Fair enough, I thought, but then again, this book is about journalism, not the overall blogosphere. Still, the reminder of the wider context was useful.
And also about Stephen B. Waters, publisher of the Rome Sentinel in upstate New York, who hadn’t just made an effort but torn the thing apart, picking at small and large problems he saw on Dan’s book. For me it’s very interesting how he took the time to make Dan’s book better, as Waters’ put it: “The time is right. The subject is right. But your book deserves to be better than this.”
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I’ve found this subject very interesting after Marshall McLuhan’s The Medium is the Message. And, Dan delivers it in a very enjoyable flow. I hope you find it useful too. In the end, I totally agree with Tom Stites that in order to call it grassroots journalism we need a medium that’s accessible and simple for the broad audience to participate.