DDTI: Traditional Media and Digital Democracy


Dan Gillmor, San Jose Mercury News, Jeff Jarvis, Advance.net, and Jay Rosen, NYU Journalism Professor are doing a panel called "Gatekeepers No More? The Grassroots Challenges the Journalist Priesthood."

Jay asks the question: what makes the moment different? Public opinion grew up hundreds of years ago as a balance to the power of the crown. The idea applied to a small percentage of the people, but the organization was egalitarian. Overtime, the small group grew to include almost everyone, that is, we consider "the public" to be everyone. As it grew large, however, the ability participate declined. People have perennially hoped that new technology would change this, starting with the telegraph. The original promise of the public in not just readers but also speakers. The Internet has given voters a mouth.

Jeff says he's been in journalism his whole life, but he's never seen a time as exciting as this. Everyone now has access to a printing press. There have been some big changes: the reader has a voice. Reporters need to stop looking so closely at the stump and pay more attention to the green. Political reporting is not so much "reporting" as it is "repeating." They repeat the same story and message over and over. (I've seen this many times in my own experience.) Jeff's manifesto:

  1. Every meeting webcast
  2. Every politician has a weblog or equivalent
  3. Federal agencies have Web sites that are easy to use and citizen friendly.
  4. We should expect elected officials to have a dialog with is
  5. We should expect journalists should report and not just repeat.

Jay: the media doesn't go away, but what has changes is what I call the "terms of transaction." We don't, as a society, want to discredit the press. But the nature and foundation of their authority is changing. Journalists think we need to give people more information so they can participate. Its more likely that if they participate, they will seek more information. Journalists don't care whether people are engaged, only if they are informed. Tools like blogs let people engage and encourage them to be informed.

There ensues a general discussion of how some people don't read or write effectively, but audio and video can let them participate. This leads to a discussion of P2P and DMCA.