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Mediactive Paperback – December 13, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


"Dan Gillmor has thought more deeply, more usefully, and over a longer period of time about the next stages of media evolution than just about anyone else." --James Fallows --This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.

From the Inside Flap

"Dan Gillmor has thought more deeply, more usefully, and over a longer period of time about the next stages of media evolution than just about anyone else. In Mediactive, he puts the results of his ideas and experiments together in a guide full of practical tips and longer-term inspirations for everyone affected by rapid changes in the news ecology. This book is a very worthy successor to his influential We the Media."
--James Fallows, Atlantic Magazine, author of Postcards from Tomorrow Square and Breaking the News

"Dan's book helps us understand when the news we read is reliable and trustworthy, and how to determine when what we're reading is intended to deceive. A trustworthy press is required for the survival of a democracy, and we really need this book right now."
--Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist

"A master-class in media-literacy for the 21st century, operating on all scales from the tiniest details of navigating wiki software all the way up to sensible and smart suggestions for reforming law and policy to make the news better and fairer. Gillmor's a reporter's reporter for the information age, Mediactive made me want to stand up and salute."
--Cory Doctorow, co-editor/owner, Boing Boing; author of For the Win

"As the lines between professional and citizen journalists continue to blur, Mediactive provides a useful roadmap to help us become savvier consumers and creators alike."
-- Steve Case, chairman and CEO of Revolution and co-founder of America Online

"It's all true - at least to someone. And that's the problem in a hypermediated world where everyone and anyone can represent his own reality. Gillmor attacks the problem of representation and reality head on, demanding we become media-active users of our emerging media, instead of passive consumers. If this book doesn't get you out of Facebook and back on the real Internet, nothing will."
--Douglas Rushkoff, author of Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age

"An important book showing people how to swim rather than drown in today's torrent of information. Dan Gillmor lives on the front line of digital information - there's no-one better to help us understand the risks and opportunities or help us ask the right questions."
--Richard Sambrook, Global Vice Chairman and Chief Content Officer at Edelman, and former BBC Director of Global News

"With the future of journalism and democracy in peril, Mediactive comes along with sage and practical advice at a crucial time. Dan Gillmor, pioneering journalist and teacher of journalists, offers a practical guide to citizens who now need to become active producers as well as critical consumers of media. Read this book right away, buy one for a friend and another one for a student, and then put Gillmor's advice into action."
--Howard Rheingold, author of the Smart Mobs and other books about our digital future

"Through common-sense guidelines and well-chosen examples, Gillmor shows how anyone can navigate the half-truths, exaggerations and outright falsehoods that permeate today's media environment and ferret out what is true and important. As Gillmor writes, 'When we have unlimited sources of information, and when so much of what comes at us is questionable, our lives get more challenging. They also get more interesting.'"
--Dan Kennedy, assistant professor of journalism at Northeastern University, former Boston Phoenix media critic, and author of the Media Nation blog at --This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 204 pages
  • Publisher: (December 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0557789427
  • ISBN-13: 978-0557789429
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,989,465 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

My life has been in media -- music, newspapers, online, books, investing and education.

I'm director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The Center, funded by the Knight Foundation and Kauffman Foundation, is working to help create a culture of innovation and risk-taking in journalism education, and in the wider media world.

I also write articles, including columns at on media and technology. In 2004 I published "We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People," a book that explained the rise of citizen media and why it matters. The book has been translated into a number of foreign languages, most recently Korean and Arabic. My new book is called Mediactive.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Barry Eisler on December 3, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
If you shape your political opinions based on what's reported in the news, you owe it to yourself to know more about how the news is reported. Mediactive is not only a great guide to the way journalism is conducted by the establishment media, but also a great guide to the way journalism *should be* conducted (see especially Chapter 8, "If I Ran a News Organization, Part 2"). It will help interested journalists do their jobs with greater integrity, and will better enable an engaged citizenry to recognize the difference between journalism, on the one hand, and stenography, propaganda, and other forms of deceit, on the other. An excellent read for bloggers, citizen journalists, professional journalists, and all consumers of the news, and I highly recommend it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Len Feldman on January 30, 2011
Format: Paperback
In 2004, Dan Gillmor wrote "We the Media", one of the first books to illuminate the role of "citizen journalists". "Mediactive" should be seen as a follow-on to "We the Media", not an update or sequel. It's split into three major sections: Media literacy, Media creation, and, for lack of a better term, "Other". The first section is essential reading for anyone, but it would be particularly valuable for high school and college students who are still learning how to judge whether a story is valid or an information source is reliable. The second section starts with a high-level overview of citizen journalism and dives into the nuts & bolts of blogging, Twitter and other means of self-publishing. This section is written primarily for novice citizen journalists; if you've been doing it for a while, you already know most of what Gillmor says.

The third section is, in my opinion, the least useful part of the book. It starts with a review of the laws and norms governing journalism and communications in the U.S., but it's at best an overview of the issues that any journalist should be aware of. Then, it jumps into a discussion of teaching and learning media literacy and journalism, and concludes with what needs to change in order to improve the practice of journalism. As Gillmor himself admits, the latter topic alone deserves its own book, and that's the problem with the final section of "Mediactive". Each of the last three chapters would work much better as separate books, and there are books that you can buy on the three subject areas that are much more comprehensive than the information that Gillmor gives in a single chapter.

In short, I strongly recommend "Mediactive" if you or someone you know is serious about developing media literacy skills, and moderately recommend it if you're interested in citizen journalism. If the topics in the last three chapters are of serious interest, you'd do better by buying books dedicated to the topics.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Heyward on February 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
Dan Gillmor, whom I've been lucky enough to meet a few times, is one of the leading thinkers about the revolution in journalism and its implications. In "Mediactive," he has created an indispensable user's manual and rallying cry for news consumers and would-be "citizen journalists" in the digital age. While most analysts focus only on eroding and emerging publishing and business models - and Gillmor has compelling insights to offer there as well - "Mediactive" speaks directly to all of us. It is a lively, fast-paced, and readable mix of inspiration and practical advice on how to be a smarter consumer of news - how to know what to believe in an age of anything-goes "journalism" - and, ultimately, how to become a productive participant in a global "conversation" enabled by digital technology. Whether you want to dive into citizen journalism or just keep your head above water in the flood of news and what passes for it, I warmly recommend "Mediactive" for anyone who cares about the future of journalism and its role in a vibrant democracy.

Andrew Heyward
Chairman, Advisory Board, Center for News Literacy, Stony Brook University
Former president, CBS News
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By gulture on June 3, 2011
Format: Paperback
'Mediactive' challenges the reader to go out and make sure others don't usurp their right to factual, informed information, as well as take responsibility for their own online activities and posts. It is a call for individuals to not only embrace the new mediasphere of blogs, journals, tweets and who-knows-what's-next, but to do so with a sharper, skeptical mind. Separating the good from the bad, the manipulators from the truth, is not going to be an easy task, but one we must all be up to. We need to dio what we can to prevent the telecoms, media giants, and governments from using this as another way to control "sheeple." For too long the mainstream media has dumbed itself down and we can no longer rely on it for anything. It's always been up to us, but even more so today. Dan provides many great guidelines and suggestions for how to incorporate sensibility and responsibility into our online interactions.

Make sure you get copies for your children.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. D. Lasica on March 22, 2011
Format: Paperback
"Mediactive" might well have been called "New Media Literacy 101," but I like the term that Dan Gillmor has coined to describe the new responsibilities thrust on us as both creators and active users of news and information in our hyperconnected age.

Besides, it's a sexier title.

Gillmor -- whose previous book, "We the Media," chronicled the rise of citizen media -- here takes us on a tour of the churning, still-evolving media landscape, where blogs and independent websites figure prominently in the discussion alongside the usual traditional media giants of print, broadcast, cable, radio and the Web. It's an age not just of "radically democratized and decentralized creation and distribution" but also an era of "information confusion."

Gillmor writes in the Introduction:

"For many of us, abundance feels more like a deluge, drowning us in a torrent of data, much of whose trustworthiness we can't easily judge. You're hardly alone if you don't know what you can trust anymore."

But we aren't helpless, either. In fact, we've never had more ways to sort out the good from the bad -- a variety of tools and techniques that are emerging from the same collision of technology and media that has created the confusion.

Not all information is created equal in quality or reliability. Gillmor's recent sojourn into academia has put him in close quarters with the next generation of journalists, and this book is intended as a steely-eyed look at news and information in the emerging mediasphere, the precepts and standards that set journalism aside from speculation and rumor, and why it's important for us to get this right -- as a society and not just as a profession.
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