Dan Gillmor: Who's a journalist? Does that matter?
In “Who’s a journalist? Does that matter?” Dan Gillmor suggests that in a world shadowed by media at every turn, it is easy to become a “passive consumer” in the sense that we are merely sponges soaking up information. This remains true whether that information is credulous or implausible. Gillmor believes that as a society, we need to convert to “active listeners” participating in “media literacy”. This transformation is necessary because we live in an era where virtually anyone can contribute some form of journalism, certified journalist or not. However, does Gillmor’s advice hold any weight? Gillmor’s past and expertise propose that we should undoubtedly heed his words concerning the new media revolution, and that he is highly qualified to be discussing such influential topics. (Gillmor, 2010)
Gillmor derives his expertise through several different industries. Beginning with education, he currently teaches digital media entrepreneurship and digital media literacy at Arizona State University. In addition to enlightening students about the changing platform of journalism, he has spoken at countless public and corporate events for organizations such as Knight Center for Digital Media, New York Press Association, and Newspaper Association of America. As far as Gillmor’s experience with journalism goes, he was a columnist at San Jose Mercury News from 1994-2005, and has free-lanced for NY Times, Boston Globe, and Economist, throughout the years. In summary, Gillmor boasts an impressive resume covering several aspects of professionalism that add credibility and depth to this article.
Perhaps two of his most notable works that relate directly to this article are his books, “We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People,” published in 2004, and “Mediactive,” published in 2010. His first book discusses how the online medium is changing journalism. He includes that by using a variety of Internet means such as blogs, YouTube, and social media sites, almost anyone can produce news. Another general theme the book encompasses is how news is becoming more of a conversation than a traditional lecture.
Even more closely related to “Who’s a journalist? Does that matter?” is his second book “Mediactive.” Here, Gillmor states how literacy not only includes knowing how to read, but the ability to understand the difference between good and bad uses of medium, and how to create it. Gillmor wants us to line up to this ideal of literacy by becoming active users of media, a term he also reuses in his article. Ultimately, the book is trying to acquaint the reader with how the public needs a media environment that benefits us as both as individuals and a society. With a fruitful past in media journalism, it is clear Gillmor is a concrete and insightful source to be discussing such topics.
“Who’s a journalist? Does that matter?” has been published on a substantial amount of websites with quite a few reviews reflecting upon Gillmor’s thought-provoking work. One critic proclaimed his writing as “reasoned and thoughtful” and calls him “one of the pioneers of citizen journalism and participatory media.” Another review suggests, “There are more questions than answers in the piece, however they are questions that really hit a nerve.” The positive responses to Gillmor’s work echo his career’s main focus: to bring attention to the media revolution’s influence on journalism and how we must adapt to this shift. His career is about the people and making our interaction with news more rational and professional.
In conclusion, this was a well-written article from a credible source trying to enlighten our media-driven society of how we should interpret news. His article has certainly influenced me to think differently as an “active user” of media, and readers should strongly consider what Gillmor has to say based on his extensive experience in the field.