Trylon Communications  - September 2004

Deadline USA

You may remember the 1952 Humphrey Bogart classic about the newspaper industry and the role of the media as watchdogs for the public. A recent book published by Dan Gillmor, We The Media, talks about the evolving phenomenon of consumer generated media and the effect it is having on the role of big media in today’s world.

If you didn’t see the movie, Bogie is a newspaper editor for a publication that is going out of business (can you say consolidation?) but has one last mission – to bring about the apprehension of a mobster. The movie examines the role of the media as a provider of truth and a defender of the public good.

In We The Media, Gillmor looks at the changing role of media today. He decries the fact that the media is consolidating into a monolithic entity, and sees the emergence of consumer generated media as helping to eliminate some of the corporate and governmental control that is almost inevitable with a consolidated media.

The book examines the role of technology in this evolution, including weblogs, email, Internet chat and cell phones. His points are underscored in the real world when we hear stories about grassroots groups that are not only reporting, but also making news. A prime example was the TxTMob phenomenon that emerged in New York during the RNC convention. While sending text messages to subscribers, the group directed crowd movement, alerted protestors to police movements, and provided on-the-scene reports to journalists that were also subscribed to the messages.

This book provides insights into the new aspects of journalism and even offers information that can help consumers contribute to the news landscape. While he believes that there is still a place for big media as a watchdog, he concludes that it will need to adapt to the new challenge.

Finally, in a recent interview Gillmor stated that PR professionals must adapt to the new media culture as well, paying more attention to influential bloggers and working with both traditional and alternative media channels.