Because I spend a lot of time monitoring blogs for my current assignment, I became aware of Dan Gillmor and his contributions to the online community. Based on what I had read by him and about him, I thought I would check out his book, We the Media, about the changing role of blogs and the potential they have to be the news delivery system.
An interesting premise, and he develops his case thoroughly using specific examples of where blogs have affected events and outcomes, as well as providing the background and definitions for those who might not be conversant in the exact terminology. One chapter I was glad to see was specifically related to RSS and its uses, which I have had some trouble explaining to my family members who are not involved in technology.
I was also surprised to find how big of a role the online community has played in certain events, as it continues to do with coverage of the Iraq war and the response to the Thai tsunami in late 2004. I wonder though if there will not be the inevitable backlash against online sources as their credibility and legitimacy are challenged both online and in the courts. Allegations even surfaced today that a prominent news organization had become so desperate for online traffic that they enlisted a shady organization to raise their page rank -- if they are also sucked down, what will be left?
Mostly what the book did for me is underscore the point that the journalism profession is reliant upon a stringent code of ethics that sometimes seems to be enforced on a strictly "honor policy" basis. It makes it difficult to know whom to trust, much less believe. I don't like being a cynic, but it's difficult to feel that all news reporting now is not just spin based on the political agenda of the transmitting organization. It makes a sad statement that the only "news" program that I watch is "The Daily Show". But at least I am also well-informed enough to know when they get something wrong.
Overall, I would recommend this book as reading for those who are just becoming familiar with the "blogosphere" and what it can do.