We’re much dismayed to announce that Dan Gillmor, our respected colleague here at the Mercury News, has decided to leave to pursue a personal project. He was a great inspiration for us. He was a trendsetter, starting one of the first blogs from within a major news organization, and winning awards for his class. We did not always agree with Dan, but he wrote with a passion and a conviction that always had the social good at heart. It is that legacy that he leaves with us. We were both honored to have worked alongside him for more than five years. And we look forward to hearing more about his new venture. He informed us of his pending departure today, but we’ll let him talk more about his plans as he finds it fit to do so.
Dan will be starting a grass-roots journalism venture, and says he has gotten seed funding. The plan is typical Gillmor. It reflects his appreciation of the need for news to bubble up from the masses. It also allows him to partake of the dream that he has written so much about: The entrepreneur starting something interesting. ï¿½Iï¿½m jumping off a cliff with the expectation of assembling a hang-glider before I get to the bottom,ï¿½ he told us this evening, in a phone call from Boston, where he is attending a conference at Harvard. ï¿½I figured the worst risk is that Iï¿½d be out of work in six months.ï¿½
We know Dan wonï¿½t be out of work. And we know heï¿½ll be doing something meaningful. We wish him well.
– Matt & Mike
I am very sad to announce that Dan Gillmor is leaving the Mercury News at
the end of the month.
After a decade telling our readers about upcoming technology trends, policies and people, Dan has decided to take the ultimate Silicon Valley plunge: he’s co-founding an Internet start-up.
The new company will be developing a Web platform for citizen-generated,
grassroots journalism–the topic of Dan’s recent book, “We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People.”
The decision to leave isn’t something that came easily to Dan. In a note to
me, he said:
Something powerful is happening, it’s in the early stages and I have a chance to help figure this out.
A friend who knows about this asked the question I’m sure some others will ask: “Are you nuts?” I hope not. Of course, I AM leaving one of the best gigs in journalism. The Merc has been incredibly good to me. There are so many talented and good-hearted folks here.
I hate the idea of leaving. But I’d hate not trying this even more.
It’s hard to overstate Dan’s impact on Silicon Valley, the technology industry and the Mercury News.
Dan has a rare gift among journalists: foresight. He can see what’s going to be important long before other people, and he tells readers why they should pay attention.
Most prominently, Dan was an early advocate of federal antitrust action
against Microsoft and is credited with helping persuade the federal government to bring its landmark antitrust case against the software company. His writing on public policy debates is well known–among other issues, Dan warned our readers of the perils of electronic voting in September 2002, as Santa Clara County officials were considering adopting the technology. As we know, concerns about e-voting later became one of the biggest election stories of 2004, both here and across the country.
Highly respected by the movers and shakers of the technology world, he has
written fascinating columns about Andy Grove, Steve Ballmer, Michael Powell
and other luminaries. He has brought a global perspective to our pages, extending the Mercury News’ influence far beyond San Jose. And his access
has resulted in some notable scoops, including the column this year
foretelling how Google was likely to structure its IPO.
In the journalism industry, Dan has been a pioneer in exploring new ways of
reaching readers. He launched his experimental Web log in 1999, interacting
with his audience with an immediacy that most journalists never dream of. He
became an evangelist for blogging, and today, it is a mainstream phenomenon
that hundreds of thousands of ordinary people use to communicate their
perspectives to the world.
Perhaps Dan’s greatest impact, however, has been on the Mercury News itself.
Ever since he joined the paper in September 1994, he has been a gracious and
kind colleague, always ready to help a reporter with a source or jump on the
news of the day. He has generously passed on news tips and ideas, nudged his
bosses to pay attention to the big picture despite the daily madness and tirelessly promoted the Mercury News as the world’s best source of
We will miss him greatly. However, we’re not letting him totally disappear: he promises to stay in touch and may even write occasionally for us on the direction of technology and journalism.