Archive for the ‘blogs’ tag

Reports of the death of blogging have been greatly exaggerated

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Blogging has had a hard time in the last fortnight. A couple of weeks ago the BBC reported on the death of blogging – picking up on an article in Wired magazine suggesting it had been superseded by other communication like Twitter.

Then earlier this week Hazel Blears (in a much trailed speech) said blogging was fuelling ‘a culture of cynicism and despair’ and accused particular bloggers (she cited Guido Fawkes) of ‘vicious nihilism’ (it’s worth reading Fawkes’ response to this accusation).

Yet missing amongst these attacks from big media and politicians is the real story about blogging – its shift from minority to mainstream.

Blogging has changed, but rather than dying it has been enhanced and its audience enormously enlarged through its adoption by the mainstream.

Where did people look for the most up-to-date information about the financial crisis in the UK? Robert Peston’s blog. What do Nick Robinson, Benedict Brogan or Adam Boulton do when they have inside information about Westminster? Blog about it.

What Wired was really picking up on was the acceptance of the blog by major media organisations. The professionalisation of an activity that was previously deliberately amateur – and which often liked to define itself in opposition to big media. But that’s what the establishment does – when radicals start to become powerful the establishment embraces the radicals.

There are now only five or six political blogs with a substantial audience (including Guido Fawkes, Iain Dale’s Diary, Conservative Home, Political Betting). Most of those who edit and write for them now have formal or informal links with mainstream media organisations (Fawkes, to my knowledge, excepted).

All major news outlets have professional blogs. The Times even has a widget you can download which has instant access to its latest blogs.

More interesting than reporting on the death of blogging or accusing most political blogs of having ‘a disdain for the political system and politicians’, is thinking about how to stop professional blogs predominating. How to support and promote independent blogs that don’t necessarily have a big audience but represent otherwise unrepresented voices. The sort of blogs Jean Seaton talked about on Woman’s Hour (and referenced this blog – much appreciated).

Which is one of the reasons why we’re going to spend the next couple of months looking for good political blogs (political in the broadest sense, not just Westminster gossip) and getting them to enter this years special Orwell Prize for political blogging (that the Media Standards Trust runs along with Political Quarterly).

Only two years ago, the BBC called bloggers “sad, joyless people in their underwear who sit in front of their computers all day.” Now, because there’s lots more people blogging, and some of them wear suits and are employed by media organisations, it is suggesting blogging is all over. It isn’t. It’s just moved into a new phase.

Written by Martin Moore

November 6th, 2008 at 11:34 am

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Does lack of reflection prevent news thinking about its future?

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This week the Independent dropped its media supplement. The paper still prints 7 pages on media, but now it’s within the body of the main paper. Though it may continue to do this, past history suggests this is a prelude to gradually integrating media coverage to the other sections (and almost certainly reducing media coverage as a consequence).

The FT did something similar in 2005. Having experimented with a media supplement on a Tuesday – ‘Creative Business’ – it then ditched this in favour of integrating the content to Tuesday’s paper. After which its media news steadily dwindled.
And only last month Press Gazette moved from a weekly to a monthly – hardly a great format for timely media news. And though supplemented by its website it is difficult to see how, with an audience of 100,000 unique users per month, this will be self-funding, or how it will maintain the depth of its print edition. More likely it will rely increasingly for revenue on spin-offs, and on the annual Press Awards.
So in terms of news about news where does this leave us? Only the Guardian prints a separate weekly media supplement – and has successfully translated the print model online at guardian.co.uk/media. Other papers rely on individual media correspondents (like Dan Sabbagh).
Outside the Guardian the space is partly filled with new news sources online. There are a bunch of good media blogs out there (including Roy Greenslade, Adrian Monck, Martin Belam, Martin Stabe, Charlie Beckett), plus journalism.co.uk and paidcontent.org. And some specialized blogs are doing a better job at scrutinizing media institutions than the press used to (like OfcomWatch).
But without more structured and edited media news and analysis, what are we missing?
- Campaigns? Not sure who will fight the Freedom of Information cause without a weekly Press Gazette
- Space for debate? The Media Guardian’s BBC special this week illustrated the value of gathering different people together on an issue – particularly those who don’t agree with one another
- Identification of media trends? i.e. stuff a little more nuanced than, say, ‘circulation is going down’
- Opportunity to distill and reflect? Making sense of the vast outpouring of material from OFCOM would be a good start
- Hold some of the media to account? Private Eye can only go so far
Perhaps most of all we’re missing the type of reflection that might help the news media work out what it is and where it’s going. The type of reflection, in other words, that might help it define its sustainable future.

Written by Martin Moore

October 7th, 2008 at 12:44 pm

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Journalism… with added context

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What do you think was the most blogged about article in the UK Press this week?

‘Mobile phones “more dangerous than smoking or asbestos”‘ by Geoffrey Lean in last Sunday’s Independent. 140 blogs linked to Lean’s piece, from Greensboring in the States (“I wonder which is more painful, brain cancer or lung cancer?”), to Schall und Rausch in Germany, to ‘The Weekly Truth‘. Many added their own perspective, a few added further findings (e.g. Rania Masri on the industry response to the scientific report), others added scepticism (e.g. Jason Trost).

How do I know this? Because we’ve just added a great new feature to http://www.journalisted.com/. Click on any article written by a journalist and you’ll be able to see who’s blogging about it. We’re also in the process of adding who’s commenting on it and who’s sharing it – via Digg, Newsvine, Reddit etc. (To see a full list of all the articles people are blogging about you can go to www.journalisted.com/buzz.)

Why? So you can see who is saying what about an article. So you can get a little more context around an article and, hopefully, so you can find out more out about a subject.

Our aim is to gather as much useful information about news articles as possible from around the web, so people have the information they need to make up their own minds about a piece they’ve read.

It’s only just gone up in beta so there are a limited number of blogs right now, but it’s growing.

If you’ve got any thoughts about the new feature – or any ideas how we could make it better – please do comment below or drop me an email.

Written by Martin Moore

April 4th, 2008 at 11:42 am

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Blogging, commenting and anonymity

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Help me out here.

I’ve never really fully understood online etiquette when it comes to leaving comments / responding to them etc. I guess that’s half the point, none of us do – indeed when Jimmy Wales and Tim O’Reilly tried to institute a bloggers code of conduct they were roundly hung, drawn and quartered (you can see O’Reilly’s ‘Lessons Learned’ here).

But how are you supposed to react to anonymous or pseudonymous comments? Does anonymity promote equality – i.e. everyone gets the same degree of respect? Or does it prevent discussion ever getting past a superficial level? Do we need to know a little more about someone before replying?

I’m curious because I’m not sure how to respond to the comment on my previous blog.

‘President Ahmadinejad’ (real name?) has left a lengthy religious message – with many Biblical references and web links. President – if you’re out there – give me an indication of what kind of response you’re looking for. Since there isn’t really much attempt to debate here I’m assuming no response is expected (indeed it looks like President A has just posted his/her blog as a comment).

But it does raise a broader question about whether, in our world of ever-expanding communication and means to self-publish we’re simply creating endless opportunities for monologue (like this?).

Written by Martin Moore

November 19th, 2007 at 5:07 pm

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