In chapter 7 of We the Media, Dan Gillmor offers examples of the increasing influence of grassroots journalism. These examples of amateur bloggers and journalists are nothing short of inspiring, as Gillmor shows how these blogs provide more depth and content than traditional news outlets, and have ushered in a new era of civic engagement.

It is exciting to see the growth of grassroots journalism, but there are new concerns that come with this trend, and Gillmor glosses over these issues. While he does mention some complaints, such as the accuracy of Wikipedia, he doesn’t address what positive aspects of traditional media may be lost as amateur content gains in popularity.

Just this past week, popular blogger Fake Steve Jobs posted a report that another popular tech blogger, Robert Scoble (www.scobleizer.com), was leaving his employer Podtech, as the company was closing down. The news spread across other technology blogs, but Scoble was quick to deny this report on his own blog and added, “Interesting that not a single blogger called me this evening. My phone number is on my blog for a reason. 425-205-1921.” Not only was Fake Steve Jobs reporting on rumors, but other bloggers failed to go straight to the source to confirm the news with Scoble.

There are some rules in professional journalism that popular amateur bloggers will hopefully follow; checking sources for legitimacy is one of them. As bloggers draw more readers away from traditional news outlets, will credibility be a factor in their popularity, or will readers be willing to overlook a lack of ethics and be swayed more by the personality of the author?

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1. In what ways are readers’ expectations of a quality news blog different from their expectations of a quality traditional news source?

2. What are some elements of traditional journalism worth keeping in amateur journalism?

3. If a popular amateur journalist/blogger were to be hired by a traditional news source and continued his/her blog, how would your opion of the blog change?

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