The debate over who [is] and isn’t a journalist is worth having. . . . You can read a good account of the latest round in that debate in the September 26th Boston Globe, where Tom Rosenthiel reports on the Democratic Convention’s efforts to decide “which scribes, bloggers, on-air correspondents and on-air correspondents and off-air producers and camera crews” would have press credentials and access to the action. Bloggers were awarded credentials for the first time, and, I, for one, was glad to see it. I’ve just finished reading Dan Gillmor’s new book, We the Media , and recommend it heartily to you. Gilmore is a national columnist for the San Jose Mercury News and writes a daily weblog for SiliconValley.com. He argues persuasively that Big Media is losing its monopoly on the news, thanks to the Internet – that “citizen journalists” of all stripes, in their independent, unfiltered reports, are transforming the news from a lecture to a conversation. He’s on to something. In one sense we are discovering all over again the feisty spirit of our earliest days as a nation when the republic and a free press were growing up together. It took no great amount of capital and credit–just a few hundred dollars–to start a paper then. There were well over a thousand of them by 1840. They were passionate and pugnacious and often deeply prejudiced; some spoke for Indian-haters, immigrant-bashers, bigots, jingoes, and land-grabbers. But some called to the better angels of our nature--Tom Paine, for one, the penniless immigrant from England, who, in 1776–just before joining Washington’s army–published the hard-hitting pamphlet, Common Sense, with its uncompromising case for American independence. It became our first best seller because Paine was possessed of an unwavering determination to reach ordinary people–to “make those that can scarcely read understand” and “to put into language as plain as the alphabet” the idea that they mattered and could stand up for their rights.
More about NNA after a good night's sleep; for now, happy to be home.