The Murkiness of Transparency

Through the many burned-by-blog-fire examples that Gillmor gives in his chapter “The Gates Come Down,” we get the sense that we are navigating through the waters of transformation of news media, very murky waters that is. The “new” news media is, on a good day, very transparent; on a bad day, an untangled yarn of petty debates that does nothing but render journalists, bloggers and readers exhausted. I can understand Gillmor’s argument and I sympathize with him: it is difficult to open up the gates to the public and, as he demonstrates, we don’t really have a choice — the gates ARE open. So you’d better learn to swim. Now, the thing is that nobody has a formula on how. Those who have claimed that you just need to be “open” have discovered that is a much rougher and unpredictable process than that.

As Gillmor mentions, news media earned their power before the Internet existed, and now it’s confronted with a shift in power, they are not the only one with distribution potential, image or even data gathering. The audience can now express themselves in the same terms, just as fast and as wide spread. This, I believe, is the center of the tension. It’s all about a shift in power, and we’re all trying to assert our agency accordingly. I don’t agree with Gillmor on looking at this trying to assess if it’s a good or bad thing, or if it’s going to improve or not journalism. The point is that it’s the way the world is now and we have to adapt, we have to make our choices and we have to reassert what we believe on, who we are and how we associate. There are pros and cons to new media, as there is with everything.

Every time I come across an example of how web 2.0 have affected politics, news industry, companies, etc., I think of the idea of a de-centered world. Power is spread among many small parts, and each part is a world of it’s own, but also, each part can easily associate with other parts. It becomes a huge ecosystem, impossible to control or predict, just like the Chaos theory says. The funny thing is, that this “de-centered world” has been long coming, so why are we so unprepared and surprised?


1. How can journalists establish credibility in today’s media environment?

2. Why is the news industry so unprepared for the changing ways of new media, if this phenomenon was clearly in development for a long time?