An Open Letter to Michael Dell: Create a Freedom Award for Citizen Journalists

Michael:

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As you set out to remake Dell’s reputation, you wisely are returning to what made the company great in the first place. “Dell 2.0” builds on the foundational imperative to broaden and deepen relationships with your customers. That “back to your roots” strategy for Dell need not conflict with your own desire to stake new, high ground as a thought-leader for your industry and beyond.

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Here’s one idea for original thought-leadership that builds on your company’s renewed customer focus:

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Become a champion for citizen journalism globally.

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The rise of consumer-generated media empowers individuals as never before, and certainly Dell has played a huge role in making the rise of the “citizen journalist” possible. Somewhere in the world a new blog is created every second – an amazing fact considering that less than 20 percent of the world’s population lives in countries with complete freedom of the press. Repressive governments and their henchmen shut down home-market media and terrorize journalists working for international news organizations. Once the scrutiny of a free press has been minimalized, abusive practices toward the country’s populace inevitably ratchet up. Citizen journalists can be tiny lights of freedom from repressive lands and may be the best hope for exposing corruption and abuse as a first step toward freedom from tyranny.

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The Committee for the Protection of Journalists works to promote press freedom globally, drawing attention to abuses that endanger working journalists. And repression is on the rise. The number of journalists jailed worldwide increased again in 2006, and "one in three is now an Internet blogger, online editor, or Web-based reporter, " according to an analysis by the CPJ.

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CPJ also celebrates heroic acts of journalistic excellence. Its annual International Press Freedom Award banquet is a highly visible and beautiful tribute to worthy journalistic heroes. But there is of yet no award for citizen journalism. Dell could establish a new award to celebrate heroism from an amateur journalist courageously blogging from a repressive country. And you, Michael Dell, could deliver the keynote speech making a clarion call for amateur journalists around the world to join the groundswell against repression.

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That would be thought-leadership in action, a Force for Good for sure, and true to Dell’s core principles. Think about it, Michael, it’s totally you.

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– Jon Harmon

Comments

  1. I fully agree with you, Jon. Millions thanks for bringing forth this ssue. CPJ should reward the CitJs. Keep it up.

  2. Vahsek says:

    Freedom award for citizen journalists!
    Good idea.

  3. Hi Jon
    Our apologies for not commenting when you posted this in December. Being off for the holidays and a slower pace likely contributed to our oversight in not catching your blog until now.
    Appreciate your putting forward such an interesting idea, while also linking it to Dell 2.0, and Dell’s roots — direct relationships with our customers. Most thoughtful and considerate of you to think of Dell and offer the citizen journalist idea.
    We cannot commit to anything right now. However, you you have caught our attention and imagination…and also our consideration. As we plan for the year ahead we will certainly give your suggestions further consideration.
    In the meantime, just want to also note the value Dell places on interactions like this one. Your “open letter” is why you find Dell actively conversing with bloggers. Dialogues like this, every day, contribute to our learning while also furthering what we are all about, the direct relationship with customers.
    Hope you had a great holiday. Thanks again, on several fronts :-) .

  4. Bob Caswell says:

    The first Dell 2.0 link is broken. The new location of that story is here:
    http://www.techconsumer.com/2006/12/03/dell-20-the-to-do-list-now-that-hp-is-number-one/

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