Saturday, November 26, 2005

Bloggers and their "rebel" reputation

Boy, I think it's about time that the media stop having such a simplistic view of blogging and bloggers.

Today's case in point: this NY Times article about how companies are starting to spend ad dollars on blogs and how that may risk the "rebel reputation" that bloggers have.

Their first example is Anita Campbell and her Small Business Trends blog. (And if I were Anita I'd be pretty damn annoyed that the Times manages to embed links in a dozen other places in the article, but not to her blog!) Now, I ask you, while Anita may be a person who was on the leading edge of business blogging, perhaps even a true innovator in this space...would anyone categorize her as a "rebel"? She's a business woman doing business and using her blog to help her. Exactly who is going to be shocked and appalled by her advertising? Hasn't blog advertising gone pretty mainstream? I feel fairly anachronistic because I only have 1 little ad running, and some of my blogs run no ads at all.

So far not too many people seem to be talking about the story. Steve Rubel focuses on the numbers they present in the story, which are interesting and don't surprise me. I'm just surprised at the whole tenor of the article. That image of a blogger who is eschewing the mainstream may apply to some percentage of bloggers, journalistic, political, maybe even tech or business...but this idea that bloggers are a wild-eyed bunch of anti-establishment online anarchists is soooo 2003, don't you think?


Mainstream journalism has long been agenda driven and "who cares about the facts."

First case in point: The word "hacker" was misappropriated by Journalists in the 70s and 80s because it fit their agenda. A "hack" is a code which is intended as a work around - or to resolve a problem. Hackers are people who write hacks. But Journalists wanted to awaken people to the danger of cracking. Yet there are far fewer crackers than hackers. Therefore it was more sensational to paint all hackers as being potential crackers.

Second Case in Point: In the 1950s, Allen Drury began a series of Novels with the book "Advise and Consent." A large percentage of the space used in these novels was intended to expose "agenda-driven" journalism.

Third Case in Point: Journalism's use of the word "allegedly." Allegedly is an adverb which is supposed to modify a verb. But journalists decided that saying "The police allege ..." or "The Prosecutor alleged ..." was boring - therefore breaking all rules of grammar they state that a "suspect allegedly committed a crime."

Fourth case in point: Recently a blogger wrote about being contacted by a reporter. The reporter only wanted to interview the blogger if the blogger would say something which would support the reporter's bias about blogging.

Fifth case in point: Journalists like to use words which bias the audience. For example, instead of using the word "government" use the word "regime" if you want your readers to oppose a certain government.

This type of biased journalism has been going on for decades. Now it affects you, as well.
Interesting examples, James. Thanks. My S.O. will appreciate your mention of how the word "hacker" has been corrupted.

Of course I'm well aware of how the media can carefully use words to shade "objective" stories to support a distinct point of view. I'm quite used to writing about that on my political blog.

This particular angle, though, just seems really boring and past its prime. Who is really going to jump on this agenda-driven bandwagon? I don't think most people give two figs.
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