Tuesday, October 19, 2004

We The People Book

At its core, We the Media is a book about people. People like Glenn Reynolds, a law professor whose blog postings on the intersection of technology and liberty garnered him enough readers and influence that he became a source for professional journalists. Or Ben Chandler, whose upset Congressional victory was fueled by contributions that came in response to ads on a handful of political blogs. Or Iraqi blogger Zayed, whose Healing Irag blog (healingiraq.blogspot.com) scooped Big Media. Or acridrabbit, who inspired an online community to become investigative reporters and discover that the dying Kaycee Nichols sad tale was a hoax. Give the people tools to make the news, We the Media asserts, and they will. Journalism in the 21st century will be fundamentally different from the Big Media that prevails today. We the Media casts light on the future of journalism, and invites us all to be part of it.

Journalism is an imperfect art. Take away the reporter's personal bias, political ideology, geographical orientation, upbringing, mood, and hangover -- and you still have potential problems. Like the recording of an interview. Record it on tape? Take notes only? Get it via e-mail? Despite all these efforts, journalists still get quotes wrong, editors sometimes chop them up into mincemeat, and interviewees get angry.Not to worry. We are now ushering in the era of the Internet in general -- and blogosphere in particular -- as quote checkers and quote debaters. A recent abridged quote of President Bush by Maureen Dowd of The New York Times got her into hot water, as Weblogs and conservative pundits piled on. Her Bush quote: "Al Qaeda is on the run. That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly but surely being decimated. . . .They're not a problem anymore." The full quote included these lines where the ellipsis was: "Right now, about half of all the top Al Qaeda operatives are either jailed or dead. In either case, they're not a problem anymore."

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