Gina’s Blog

Digital Media: Its Pros And Cons

Posted in Digital Technology by Gina on September 26, 2007

The second section of  We the Media:  Grassroots Journalism by the People for the People focused a little more on the advantages and disadvantages of the growth of digital technology.  To be honest, I barely knew what a blog was when I entered this class, but now I’m explaining the concept to everyone I know—thanks Gilmor! 



I’ve learned that blogs give first-hand accounts of events that the so-called objective reports written by journalists cannot provide.  Citizens are now able to provide stories to the population that formerly may have been kept private without the press in attendance.  This has made people far more conscious of what they say not only around the press, but colleagues and associates.  People are also using blogs as tools to inform the public of issues that matter, as seen by Gilmor’s explanation of Pamela Jones’ blog, Groklaw, which became a source of information for those interested in a legal battle between the SCO Group and the free software community.  She used her blog to inform people of issues relevant to the case, just as many bloggers were doing last week during the Jena 6 demonstrations.  Another advantage of blogs is that the site’s author is also able to report stories that Big Media declines.  The Jena 6 situation also provides an example of how blogs and digital media helped to promote the upcoming demonstrations that Big Media gave little attention.  Dan Rather’s lawsuit against CBS is also lacking media coverage from Big Media.  Although the story has recieved some attention from Big Media, bloggers seem to be giving the story much more attention that networks– CBS especially.



We’re fortunate to have freedom of speech because many other countries do not have the luxury of voicing their opinions or even stating the facts without serious repercussions, which is explained to be the case in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and China.  Many other countries also lack the ready access to computers that we often take for granted in the U.S.  Because of this, television and radio still dominate when it comes to transmitting information.




Many blogs and Web sites on the Internet are useful tools, but if readers are not careful, they can also be deceived into believing misinformation.  (Freedom of speech is great, but is also easily abused.)  Wikis fall into the category of information to be wary of.  These sites are controlled and monitored by everyone, operating on an honor system of sorts.  Fortunately, on sites such as Wikipedia, people typically correct the malicious or inaccurate information before many people notice.  Also, most people can be considered professionals when it comes to copying and pasting, but Gilmor explains how this can lead to many misunderstandings.  Words can be misconstrued, especially when sentences are spliced, headlines removed, or preceding and subsequent sentences are not included.  Photos can also be doctored, causing people to believe inaccurate information.  The author used the John Kerry example, which showed him and Jane Fonda at an anti-war rally.  Until reading this chapter, I had no idea that this was a doctored photo.  It just goes to show you that sometimes Internet rumors go on for years, if not longer.




It is easy for anyone to get their hands on documents and photos, like Kerry’s, that they can manipulate.  Plagiarism, copyright infringement, and online theft are becoming more rampant due to digital media.  Students stealing papers and people everywhere stealing music has caused many organizations to take actions.  Many people have assumed that it was impossible to trace their actions, but that may soon change.  Anonymity is increasingly disappearing, especially since the development of “cookies.”  Hollywood now wishes to use “cookies” to find users that violate property rights.  Their goal is to ensure that people will eventually lose the ability to make copies of movies and share files.  Of course, this possible method of “cyber stalking” has created controversy regarding online privacy.  Companies such as Microsoft and Apple implemented Digital Rights Management in much of their equipment to ensure that people were only able to manipulate data of which they approved.




To protect yourself from falling victim to biased or inaccurate information, choose sources carefully and use common sense.  It’s also good to keep in mind that anonymity allows people to sabotage information without consequences.  Gilmor made a profound statement by saying that credibility is not only gained by making strong arguments, but also by having the willingness to own up to those statements.  Fortunately, more citizen journalists are fact-checking information that is distributed online, which also helps to ensure that the public is receiving accurate information.




Bloggers aren’t really held accountable to the same standards of defamation, libel, and other slanderous statements as journalists; however, countries are making laws that are affecting the way we communicate here in the U.S.  This is forcing more bloggers, who originally were able to say virtually anything, to be more careful of the information they divulge or the opinion that they voice.  Regardless of whether the Web sites are based in the U.S., citizens are being held accountable to the laws that have been set in other countries.  (Freedom of speech here is in jeopardy due to laws in other countries.)  



Gilmor provides the novice user with a great tool for navigating through the Web as it is today, and great foundation as to how the information is best applied.  A few things have developed since this book was printed, but the fundamentals still remain. 



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