Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Thursday 9/12/2004If you've been paying any sort of attention over the past ten years, you'll have come across Dan Gillmor. He's been the technology columnist for the San Jose Mercury News for a decade -- in other words, the leading mainstream media commentator on Silicon Valley.

Thursday 9/12/2004

If you've been paying any sort of attention over the past ten years, you'll have come across Dan Gillmor. He's been the technology columnist for the San Jose Mercury News for a decade -- in other words, the leading mainstream media commentator on Silicon Valley. He knows everyone, has seen everything and has a rare turn of prophecy. He saw and documented the dot-com boom from an unparalleled perspective -- his combination of experience and insight is unique.

Now he's off, leaving what he describes (not unreasonably) as the 'best job in journalism' for, of all things, a dot-com startup. He's got funding -- I'd love to have been in that meeting -- and is busy knocking the idea into shape before saying too much. What he has talked about is intriguing: it's a citizen-journalist project, something that will 'enable grassroots journalism'. That'll be a blog site, then.

Of course, that's far too flippant a reaction. Perhaps a better guide will be to look at OhMyNews, a South Korean phenomenon of a newspaper that publishes articles from its readers. Lauded as one of the first open-source news project, it's got millions of readers and thousands of contributors -- and it's making waves. The conservative established media of the country refer to the OhMyNews contributors as 'wired red devils': sounds like they're annoyed. Good.

There's nothing like OhMyNews in the Western world, and there's no doubt that it does something valuable. Blogging is fine, but it desperately needs more of an editorial overview: you can live in your own little bubble of the blogosphere for months without realising that equally fine stuff is going on in the Web site next door. Meanwhile, online media -- even our own fine site -- is still gradually edging its way slowly towards a more interactive world, and it's a painfully slow process. Most of what we do is near-identical to what we'd do on a magazine. That can't be right, not in the long term.

I would recommend that you keep an eye on what Gillmor's up to, but that's otiose. Whatever he does will be picked up in no time flat -- and if it helps push online interactive journalism forward, I have no doubt it'll be exciting and effective in equal measure.

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