Speaking of Tom, he’s authored a great paper as part of the Master’s program he’s enrolled in. Titled “Weblogs, Pamphlets and Public Citizens: Changing Modern Media“, in which he compares the citizen journalists of today’s blogosphere to the pamphleteers of pre-Revolutionary War America. I got a sneak peek during the drafting and editing phase, and I think it’s really good.
Some choice quotes:
The effects of blogs in a new media environment are twofold: Weblogs cover stories that their mainstream media counterparts, for editorial reasons or other gatekeeping practices common in modern professional media, omit or miss entirely; and weblogs also bring to bear an ever-vigilant group of diverse problem solvers that fact-check the work of many reporters and journalists in the mass-media arena. This makes the blogosphere an excellent addendum to mass media, operating as both appendix and errata to the main compendium of stories that the mass media puts into the public sphere using trained reporters and journalists.
As technology had advanced further, producing Really Simple Syndication (RSS), a distribution method that allows for easy and automatic syndication of new additions to weblogs, it has become possible for a consumer of media to add weblogs to their daily news diet. This allows for readers to mix and match their media, creating a new media outlet that is personally tailored to their interests and to their pursuits. Using an RSS-reader application on a personal computer, a sports fan can have a forty-page sports section and a one page local section, or a political junkie can have page after page of differing commentary from a variety of sources. The reader becomes their own editor and gatekeeper, combining multiple weblogs and conventional media sources, which have also adopted RSS, into their own personal fountain of news and commentary.
If you’ve read Dan Gillmor’s We The Media and/or Hugh Hewitt’s Blog, some of Tom’s piece will sound familiar, especially in that he cites the former as a source, but I say the familiarity makes Tom’s arguments stronger. Good work, my friend!