Korea’s OhmyNews recently interviewed Dan Gillmor, blogger and author of We the Media, about his decision to leave the San Jose Mercury News to start a citizen journalism project. (OhmyNews, an online participatory newspaper, was recently profiled in Asia Times.) Among the highlights of the interview with Gillmor:
Your comparison of journalism-as-a-lecture model vs. journalism-as-conversation is fascinating. How would you like to implement this in your new media startup?
What I’ve been doing personally on the blog for some time now has been all about that. The only way you can have a conversation is if you listen. That’s the first rule of conversation. And I’ve had a wonderful time listening, even when they attack me (laughter). I typically learn more from those who think I’m wrong than from people who think I’m right. Especially when they tell me why I’m wrong.
And then once you learn how to listen — which is something journalists need to do better — then we can then say that with the tools being created — things like what OhmyNews is doing — then we can say "Don’t just respond to us but let’s all talk together" and "Let’s develop ways of taking that publication of a story and broadcast and make that the beginning of something."
There is a fear that people are only turning to the news they like and that on the Internet there is a balkanization of news. Do you think that the massively distributed model like OhmyNews can solve this problem?
As I said, I am worried about this "echo chamber" where we only listen to what we want to. It’s so important for people to expose themselves to things that are different. One of the things that I think is valuable about a newspaper is to be exposed to things you didn’t know you cared about, especially if it covers a broad range of issues.
But the tools are coming along that help people find other things. And I think that even a site or publication or whatever medium we’re going to use, that even when it has a stance or political worldview, part of the fairness is in saying "If you disagree, we’re going to make sure that your response is going to be prominently displayed near the original." And I think that covers what we need to do as well, as journalists, listening to the other side and giving displays for the opposing views.
I caught mention of this interview on Joi Ito‘s blog.