Mediactive (2010) is a book by Dan Gillmor that talks about the pitfalls in journalism and aims at solving them. Dan Gillmor is a writer who mostly does his articles mostly on technology, and also directs Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship that is found in Arizona University. He also runs a popular blog where he writes on technology and the technological, business sector of Northern California. He aims to educate the public using his works on copyrights, politics, and the media. Mediactive is a perfect guide to an aspiring journalist who wishes to be independent in his works. However, the book is also of assistance to anybody using the media in this digital age. Today, there are many platforms where people can publish or access anything that other people have published. The author encourages all people to take advantage of new media and be actively involved in publishing and learning from the already published information. He discourages people being passive media users as the society can only be developed by applying what we already know. Media activity, according to the book also includes updating a Facebook status or sending a tweet on some news that are of benefit to someone (Gillmor, 2).
Mediactive stands out as it tries to propose a different and new form of media citizen who is highly involved in gaining and spreading information and news.
The book is targeted for the normal citizen, and not professionals and media scholars who would dispute some concepts highlighted. The book is written in a manner that suggests it is targeted for an intelligent group of people who are not experts, preferably students. Gillmor approaches the topics comfortably using a favorable language discussing vast issues, whether practical or cerebral. The ability of the author to combine helping-to-do ideas with guiding-to-think makes the book unique from any other publication on the media (Gillmor, 9).
The initial section of the book focuses on educating the reader on journalism, and how it only constitutes to a negligible portion of the total information citizens consume. Gillmor highlights the use of the internet to send emails, write blogs, and use user generated content. The aim of the chapter is to notify the community on how to get involved in accessing and spreading mediated information. He has set some values that can be used by any person in order to achieve success in using mediated information. The public should keep an open mind, learn media techniques, keep asking questions, and exercise judgment. By applying the principles, any person using the media has to think and reason, like a journalist. People should look and filter for their own information and news that will be used to develop our understanding and knowledge. Journalists look for news and information on their own, which constitutes what we know and perceive. However, some information from journalists is altered, and hence the need for individuals to look for information by themselves. According to Mediactive, citizens should examine and create meaning from different links of information without limiting their scope of research (Gillmor, 18).
Gillmor suggests different methods that can be used in navigating the internet depending on the form of information being searched. The methods can be in the form of using the common search engines, and RSS to find something on the net.
After the information is obtained, it is crucial to check its credibility as not everything published on the internet is reliable (Gillmor, 25).
This brings the young media users to literacy of searching for information online, and not just the usual norm of “Googling” everything. Gillmor then focused on how media is created to act as an avenue to publish and spread information. Any media that can create content is useful no matter its form or target crowd. What is essential is the media creator whether a hobby blogger, a journalist, or even a corporate writer. However, only dependable information should be published so as to improve the quality of accessible reading or learning material. This is ensured through some principles that include fairness, thoroughness, independence, accuracy, and transparency. The author considers objectivity more of an ideal as compared to a principle, and people cannot be able to achieve. This is because, as humans, we have different perceptions and beliefs, and hence impossible to be purely objective (Gillmor, 52).
Gillmor describes the tactics and tools that are vital in creating modern content, and use it to communicate to the entire world. If the content creator wishes to use a website, the author describes the most reliable ways to purchase web domains and successfully host the site. Any data obtained or developed should be backed up to avoid any loss in case of a technical hitch. Any media has to keep changing its content, and hence the need for a system that manages the content, which can include blogs. After forming a reliable tool to spread the content, the tool is managed accordingly and developed as a brand. This determines the influence it will have on people, and how reliable it will be perceived. The better the brand reputation any media have, the higher the reach and reliability from the public. Ideas have been used as a source of revenue too in online platforms, and this can apply to journalists too. This can be done by use of widgets that earn revenue upon clicking or putting up adverts on the web page.
However, it should not hinder the goal of the online platform, and what it stands for. According to Mediactive, entrepreneurial journalism is paramount and start up thinking should be applied. This helps any person actively involved in modern media to earn a living and take it on as a job (Gillmor, 60).
Mediactive discourages the use of passive consumption from the media and people should be active to discourage existing oligopolies and monopolies. The monopolies control the information that reaches majority of the people, causing failure in the small media platforms. The method of consuming what is given by the media can be changed by use of technology, and innovation. The public also needs to have a strong will to change the existing principles by coming up with new, fresh ideas. When consuming the media, we should not take for granted any information we come across. However, people should do a proper research to establish the percentage of truth or application to daily life. The public should also keep an open mind on any information given that does not conform to their ideas and beliefs. This is because different people have different ways of self expression depending on a number of factors (Gillmor, 64).
From the book, content creators should challenge themselves and avoid being content in their comfort zones. Proper learning involves curiosity and testing oneself every now and then, which eventually leads to mastering of the desired skill. Gillmor points out the need for individuals to learn the concept of manipulation in the media (Gillmor, 66). For people consuming the information, they have to understand the degree of manipulation, and avoid extreme reactions. For the content creators, manipulation should be limited to avoid misleading the public and also prosecution by the law. The need to regulate media helps the modern democratic society to make proper informed decisions.
Media laws and ethics are aimed at encouraging responsibility and accountability of speech or any publication to the public. The anonymity nature of the internet there is the need to regulate the information provided, in order to protect the public. However, proper use of digital media should be encouraged, and not forced on the public. This is because there is the need for anonymity of any content creator on a media platform. Anonymity helps whistle blowers create awareness on different subjects without being exposed to unfair danger. It is recommended that the owners of websites should take full responsibility for any content by a visitor on the site. The general public is overlooked, yet it can play a vital role in ensuring media laws and ethics are enforced accordingly. The Communications decency Act, section 230 states that providers of normal internet services will not be held responsible for information published by another party. Providers are not liable for the information they did not personally publish, which is seen as creation of immunity for the providers. The Act protects the website providers even if they had knowledge of inflammatory content, but they choose not to remove it.
Any modifications on section 230 would have negative effects on the efforts to create innovation, and reliable media platforms on the internet. It encourages the freedom of speech and expression more than any other legislation signed recently. The immunity provided in the law protects only the host, and not the visitors posting defamatory content. If monitoring of all conversations in websites is monitored, online interactions and expressions would disappear. This is because people would not risk getting prosecuted as a result of a comment or expression made. This would discourage the use of digital media, which according to Mediactive, would lead to the emergence of media monopolies. For media activity to continue according to the decree and in a moral approach, the public should change its attitude towards creating and accessing information.
However, according to Gillmor, anonymity of online publications creates a sense of doubt about authenticity of the information. Mediactive encourages people to stand by their own words because not all information consumers are skeptical. Some people abuse the anonymity given to journalists, and use it to take personal stands or to attack someone. It is only ethical that if journalists hide their identities and makes accusations, the allegations should be refuted. However, the information should not entirely be ignored until one is sure there is no concrete evidence to support the accusations. This applies also to readers who comment on blogs using anonymous profiles.
In order to reduce unaccountability and increase application of ethics on digital media, pseudonyms should be encouraged. They act as content management systems, and will normally prompt any visitor for basic registration before commenting or uploading information. A pseudonym does not guarantee that visitors will use their real names, but in a way, encourages better behavior and ethics. An individual commenting or posting using pseudonym is likely to seem more credible, without even providing his real name. Journalists willing to embrace digital media entrepreneurship should learn to leave an identity on their publications. This applies to all content creators, just to create a reliable connection with the target information consumers. Anonymity remains vital in journalism and the media at large, but it needs to be regulated to avoid abuse and misuse. The regulation can be done through the law, or more efficiently by encouraging people to use digital media responsibly. This can be done by elimination of all totally anonymous posts and comments, and encourage the public to report abuse incidents. According to the law, one can face prosecution as a result of a post made personally on any form of media.
Immunity only applies to third parties who include hosts and other people using the media platforms. Since any content created is public, ethics and national law should govern digital media.
Journalism has been undergoing transformations as a result of the rapidly growing technology and innovations. This may lead to the closure of some institutions that are not ready to embrace change. However, that will not cause extinction of journalism as today’s economy has a lot of published information. Millions of people around the globe are competent to add influence in different media spheres, without becoming a qualified journalist. One of millions of media spheres can grow to become a worldwide communicator in the future. Proper content development should be hence practiced as outlined in Mediactive, and should conform to law and human ethics.