My life has been in media — music, newspapers, online, books, investing and education. (Here’s my CV, if you’re interested.)

My current focus, as I recently wrote in my “What’s next for me…” blog post, is “to help people who are working to save democracy, and by extension freedom of expression, in part by helping journalism perform its most essential role.” 

I’ve just retired from my longtime job at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, which I joined in 2008 as a professor of practice. Over the past decade media literacy has been my primary focus there, stemming from my 2009 book Mediactive. My goal with that project, and current goal, has been to help turn passive media consumers into active users — as participants at every step of the process starting with what we read. The book has been translated into a number of languages including Japanese (also freely available under a Creative Commons license), Chinese, Armenian, and most recently, editions in Ukraine and Myanmar.

In 2017, I co-founded the ASU News Co/Lab. It’s an experimental lab that collaborates with others to improve the information ecosystem. An example: We’ve been running an an open online course on media literacy. It’s geared toward adults and you should sign up! (The “live” sessions are concluded for the moment, but you can take the course at your own pace.) In addition to lab projects, I teach courses in digital media literacy, part of a recently launched B.A. program offered by the Cronkite School via ASU Online. Please visit the News Co/Lab website for much more information about what we’re doing to help repair our poisoned discourse.

I spent a fair amount of time in Japan, and am a non-resident senior fellow at the Cyber Civilization Research Center at Keio University in Tokyo.

I also write articles and commentary, including occasional paid online pieces for Slate Magazine’s Future Tense, Nikkei Asia, Medium and even LinkedIn. My personal blog is here, and often contains cross-posted pieces I publish elsewhere.

My first book, We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People (2004 and 2006; O’Reilly Media), is still on the market and still selling — and, as has been the case since publication, available for free download under a Creative Commons copyright license. The book has been translated into many foreign languages, including Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Korean and Arabic. (When it was first published in Japan, that country’s most popular weekly magazine, Aera, put me on the cover, which was quite an experience!)

I no longer use Twitter, due to the increasingly vile behavior of the new CEO and co-owner. You can find me on Mastodon, the decentralized network of servers that I hope will demonstrate the value of a truly open Internet. I hope you’ll join me there for some civil conversations. (I’m experimenting with Bluesky, Threads, and other services, but not in any significant way.)

I’m involved in several outside projects; have a number of media investments; and  serve on media-related boards and advisory boards. These include:

  • Investor, Wikia (better known as Fandom), a privately held consumer wiki company co-founded by my friend Jimmy Wales.
  • Shareholder in Berkshire Hathaway, Amazon, and Cloudflare.
  • Board member, the Signals Network, a nonprofit working to protect whistleblowers and connect them to journalism organizations. (I’ve served on a number of nonprofit boards over the years. If you want to discuss having me join yours, let me know.)
  • Co-founder, Dopplr, a travel site and “social atlas”. Nokia bought Dopplr in 2009.

Over the years I’ve spoken at hundreds of events, public and private, and have been paid on a number of occasions. Among the organizations from which I’ve received compensation are: the National Federation of Advanced Information Services, Schibsted (Norway), ABC (Spain), TVN (Chile), Clarin (Argentina), Consumer Electronics Association (US), International Prepress Association, TIDE (Germany), Newspaper Association of America, Knight Center for Digital Media, National Association of Science Writers, New York Press Association, BlogBoat (Belgium), IGN (a unit of News Corp.) the University of Colorado, Washington & Lee University, Northeastern University, the University of Hong Kong, Louisiana State University, Columbia University and others. I’ve also visited several countries including Russia, Colombia, Egypt and Croatia on behalf of the U.S. State Department, giving talks and workshops for journalists and new-media people and promoting the ideas behind citizen media. 

I count the business failure of Bayosphere, a new-media startup that aimed to fuel local journalism in 2005, as one of my best learning experiences.

From 1994-2005 I was a columnist at the San Jose Mercury News, Silicon Valley’s daily newspaper, and wrote a blog for The blog was one of the first by a journalist for a traditional media company. I joined the Mercury News after six years with the Detroit Free Press. Before that, I was with the Kansas  City Times and several newspapers in Vermont. Over the years I’ve freelanced for the New York Times, Boston Globe, Economist, Financial Times and many other publications.

During the 1986-87 academic year I was a Knight-Wallace journalism fellow at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where I studied history, political theory and economics.

The Wikipedia page about me is way out of date. Please do not rely on it.

Before becoming a journalist I played music for seven years.

Note: I believe the Trump presidency and rise of right-wing extremism have been a catastrophe for the United States and the world — and for journalism’s honor. As someone who cares deeply about journalism and its essential role, I’m beyond disappointed at the way — exemplified in the Trump era but not limited to it — that Big Journalism, and the Washington press corps in particular, has so thoroughly failed to do its job in recent years. Appallingly, our top media organizations still refuse to recognize their mistakes, much less correct them. I fear that western democracy may be on its last legs, and journalism’s business-as-usual attitudes and deeds during this emergency are one of the key reasons.

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