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Us, not You

TimeyoucoverUPDATED

It’s fitting, and somewhat overdue, that Time Magazine’s person of the year is “You” — as in all of us.

Don’t get me wrong here. The cover story and the supporting articles are a terrific bunch of pieces. They capture well what has been happening for the past few years in the democratization of media.

But there’s a tiny bit of reality in the fact that the cover didn’t say “Us” instead of “You” — in part because it was a vestige of the magazine’s traditional, royal thinking wherein they told us everything they thought we needed to know (and what to think about it). Our role: We bought it or didn’t.

If the people of the year are all of you out there somewhere, that leaves “we the deciders of what is news” still inside the gates.

The world has changed, as the magazine’s writers, photographers, artists and editors captured in this issue. Here’s the issue: It’s changed even more than they may want to concede deep down in their essentially top-down, corporate gut.

I look forward to the day when Time and other traditional magazines fully embrace us when it comes to the journalism. This is coming, and faster than anyone (including me) would have predicted just a year or two ago. It can’t come fast enough, because the time is short to make the transition.

Anyway, excellent work from Time.

UPDATE: See Jeff Jarvis’ related thoughts, which he posted earlier. Also, William Beutler says he predicted this would happen two months ago.

24 Comments on “Us, not You”

  1. #1 Time Person of the Year: YOU « JJB Blog
    on Dec 17th, 2006 at 10:22 am

    [...] As an aside, Dan Gillmor made the excellent observation that Time chose to say “You” instead of “Us”, ironically perpetuating the separation between provider and receiver that this year’s person of the year was theoretically aiming to dismantle. [...]

  2. #2 Josh
    on Dec 17th, 2006 at 12:46 pm

    Already, bloggers are falling all over themselves declaring a victory for the popular distribution of media. There’s a catch, though. As Dan Gilmore points out, the editors of Time chose to name “You” the person of the year rather than “We” including the writers, reporters, and editors of major media outlets.

    ClickZ Stats Demographics reports that 50 million Americans visited blogs during the first quarter of 2005, and there are encouraging statistics that suggest that blogs could be used to market goods to wealthy households. However, during the week of December 4, the top five network programs (CSI, NBC Sunday Night Football, 60 Minutes, Deal or No Deal, and Survivor: Cook Island) had 91 million viewers.

    Blogs and MySpace are starting to compete with the major media outlets, but they don’t have the branding to reach large audiences yet. We’ve got our Time cover for now, but to get major audiences the revolution has a long way to go.

  3. #3 Josh
    on Dec 17th, 2006 at 12:50 pm

    Time has an audience of 21 million readers. Bloggers haven’t yet gotten the branding to reach such large audiences. Maybe it will happen, but it hasn’t yet.

  4. #4 Josh
    on Dec 17th, 2006 at 12:52 pm

    There’s a catch, though. As Dan Gilmore points out, the editors of Time chose to name “You” the person of the year rather than “We” including the writers, reporters, and editors of major media outlets.

  5. #5 The Real Paul Jones
    on Dec 17th, 2006 at 3:19 pm

    You are the Person of the Year…

    And so am I. Time chooses YOU, meaning all of us participating in media and information construction and sharing on the Internet, as their Man (now Person) of the Year.
    Time begins: “Person of the Year: You — Yes, you. You control the In…

  6. #6 Seth Finkelstein
    on Dec 17th, 2006 at 4:07 pm

    But, Dan, it’s not “Us”. “We” aren’t the conference-goers, the participants in the venture-capital funds, the data-mining businesses, the buyout candidates. Yes, “inside the gates.” – as in GATEKEEPERS!

    Working for free while a tiny elite profits, is a “You” not an “Us” :-( .

  7. #7 Rhea
    on Dec 17th, 2006 at 7:06 pm

    So it really is all about me. I mean, us.

  8. #8 Delia
    on Dec 17th, 2006 at 8:04 pm

    I think there is some truth in what Seth is saying: Dan Gillmor appears to be correct in that there is a “you” *as opposed* to “us” as far as the main stream media is concerned… but if that is a flaw it doesn’t seem to be one that is corrected in the blogosphere… (just not sure that Dan’s comments implied that things were all that different when blogs themselves are under scrutiny). D.

  9. #9 Delia
    on Dec 17th, 2006 at 8:44 pm

    … still, I think the charge that the Time was in the wrong is misplaced (because it ignores practical issues; just imagine they would have done that…so… Time: “the person of the year is…*us*!” what?*???* that would have never worked without an explanatory paragraph… and by the time you do all that…the effect is lost); It helps to put yourself in the other’s shoes before starting to criticize (not that I’m all that good at it myself…) D.

  10. #10 Andrew Lih » Blog Archive » “You” are Time’s Person of the Year
    on Dec 18th, 2006 at 12:26 am

    [...] UPDATE: Good post from my former partner in teaching citizen media, Dan Gillmor. “I look forward to the day when Time and other traditional magazines fully embrace us when it comes to the journalism. This is coming, and faster than anyone (including me) would have predicted just a year or two ago. It can’t come fast enough, because the time is short to make the transition.” [...]

  11. #11 Citizen Media Watch » Citizen media voices: It’s US, not YOU
    on Dec 18th, 2006 at 6:30 am

    [...] Dan Gillmor at Citizen media center praises the choice, but criticizes the choice of “You”: there’s a tiny bit of reality in the fact that the cover didn’t say “Us” instead of “You” — in part because it was a vestige of the magazine’s traditional, royal thinking wherein they told us everything and we bought it or didn’t. If the people of the year are all of you, that leaves “we the deciders of what is news” still inside the gates. [...]

  12. #12 Open Parenthesis
    on Dec 18th, 2006 at 9:17 am

    The Person of the Year is Who?…

    As you’ve probably already heard, you’ve won Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” for 2006. Well, not you specifically, but “You,” the abstract third-person plural pronoun.
    (Perhaps really it should be Y&#8217…

  13. #13 Garrick Van Buren .com » Where Theory and Practice in Publishing Differ
    on Dec 18th, 2006 at 11:50 am

    [...] RELATED: “I look forward to the day when Time and other traditional magazines fully embrace us when it comes to the journalism.” – Dan Gillmor “….Time is, separating themselves where there is no separation.” – Dave Winer Newspapers Technorati [...]

  14. #14 pwb
    on Dec 18th, 2006 at 12:20 pm

    Uhmm…wouldn’t Time declaring “Us” as person of the year be a bit insulting to readers?

  15. #15 Framtider.net » Blog Archive » links for 2006-12-18
    on Dec 18th, 2006 at 1:22 pm

    [...] Center for Citizen Media: Blog: Us, not You Dan Gillmor på Center for Citizen Media pekar på att det hos Time fortfarande handlar om vi, i medierna som styr, och ni, i publiken som ibland får delta, i stället för oss. (tags: dan_gillmor time center_for_citizen_media person_of_the_year 2006 deltagande_journalistik deltagande_kultur) [...]

  16. #16 Mostly Muppet Dot Com
    on Dec 18th, 2006 at 2:24 pm

    I’m Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year”…

    Turns out I am the Time’s 2006 “Person of the Year”.
    To be fair, you are too, especially if you read or write a blog, listen or produce a podcast, edit or consume Wikipedia or watch and create video on YouTube.
    Pretty much any warm bo…

  17. #17 Venture Voice
    on Dec 18th, 2006 at 5:35 pm

    The Irony of You…

    Setting off a barrage of cutesy opening lines by bloggers, Time Magazine designated “You” as the person of the year. Bloggers responded with begrudging thanks, collective self-congratulations, lessons in semantics and more musings. Triumph! Citizen m…

  18. #18 Tonym
    on Dec 19th, 2006 at 2:49 am

    Err, isn’t the Man of the Year…. Dave Winer?

    Its all RSS and isn’t he the one to blame for that?

    Blog on!

  19. #19 Bill
    on Dec 19th, 2006 at 3:56 pm

    I agree with pwb, above, in that Time couldn’t state that the person of the year is “we” or “us.” It’s not a statement on how they view their own position as an old-school media company, it’s just that no reader on the planet would see “us” on the cover and not think that Time was celebrating itself! Who here wouldn’t see “person of the year: us” and think, “what arrogant a-holes”? Also, even if it is grammatically correct, “we” just looks wrong and has the same major flaw as “us.”

    I’ve seen a bunch of people proclaiming that Time was making some major “us” vs. “them” statement by using “you.” Everyone’s overthinking it. Time had no choice in wording.

  20. #20 Delia
    on Dec 19th, 2006 at 5:45 pm

    Well… Fully agree with Bill&pwb! (just that… I thought I said that *first*…)
    re: http://citmedia.org/blog/2006/12/17/us-not-you/#comment-4103

  21. #21 David
    on Dec 20th, 2006 at 8:42 am

    I interviewed Time Mag’s #2 about the POY award and asked him about this. His response “He makes an interesting subtle point. I think “You” just makes more sense, as a form of addressing the audience. “Us” seems to refer to the magazine, and even though we embrace it we are speaking to the reader.”

    More here

  22. #22 The Big Media, The Big Book and the Big School at
    on Dec 20th, 2006 at 5:43 pm

    [...] Compare Doctor of Philosophy Doctor Carroll’s attitude with the Big Media’s attitude: Time’s choice of You! as the person of the year “was a vestige of the magazine’s traditional, royal thinking wherein they told us everything they thought we needed to know (and what to think about it.) Our role: We bought it or didn’t.” This is written by Dan Gillmor in Center for Citizen Media http://citmedia.org/blog/2006/12/17/us-not-you/ [...]

  23. #23 Patrick Herron
    on Dec 22nd, 2006 at 3:51 pm

    Dan, when they say “you” they really mean it. For Time to embrace an Us it would mean for the Great Dictatorial Eye to embrace its own demise. They thrive on telling Us what it is, what we do, what we think.

  24. #24 Community Guy
    on Dec 24th, 2006 at 5:54 am

    RANT: Bloggers morph into Jack Black….

    Bloggers turn into Jack Black in High Fidelity……