Journos Are Scared Of Bloggers Volume 2

Tuesday, December 19, 2006 6:28 | Filed in Blogging, Language

After coming across something on Stephen Lang’s site some time ago where he takes exception to an Observer journo attacking book-review bloggers. Now to be fair, the journalist in question did maintain that there are quality review blogs out there, but also that there is a lot of dross and putrid opinion that you have to wade through before you get to them, and seems to think this is why the professionals are better.

Bollocks. Oh, damn, that’s not the most lucid argument, is it? Well, let’s put it another way. I choose not to read certain columnists and certain newspapers (I’m thinking particularly Gary Bushell / Richard Littlejohn) because I don’t like their columns or their opinions. In some cases, I might find the columns dross and the opinions putrid.

That is not the same thing as saying that they are dross or putrid, merely that they don’t suit me. I’m sure plenty of people do like them. But — and this is my point — you’ll find precisely the same scenario with bloggers.

You would no more keep re-visiting a blog you don’t like than you would keep re-reading a newspaper columnist you hate (unless it’s a “love-to-hate” scenario, but that’s a different matter). So those bloggers (and, I suppose newspaper columnists) who it is widely accepted aren’t much good simply won’t get read. The bloggers will drop down the search engine rankings, the columnists will maybe have to change their style, career or newspaper.

And then in the Guardian Magazine on saturday, I find Guy Browning explaining How To … Blog. To be fair to Guy, his column is meant to be funny, so I should maybe be a little more light-hearted about it, but he just picks out the same old tired stereotypes of bloggers every time:

Ninety per cent of the people who read your blog live within six miles of your computer. The other 10% read it on your computer.Guy Browning

I’ll admit some of my readers live within six miles. But as I’ve had messages or comments from people based outside the UK — in Sweden, in the US, in Australia, then I suspect you’d still be wrong even if you were trying to claim an “average” distance of sixty miles. Never mind, Guy, try again.

“I don’t know what to write about today,” is not a good way of starting a blog.Guy Browning

Well, shucks, you’ve got me on that one. I’m not denying there are some atrociously crap blogs out there, but these tend to be the people who want a blog because they think it’s fashionable, not because they’ve got anything to say. These blogs will have petered out within three months.

There’s nothing more surprising and enjoyable than getting a comment on your blog.Guy Browning

It certainly is enjoyable. I can think of nicer things — the birth of my children, for example. Nor would I say it’s particularly surprising, given that my last seven posts have generated twenty-three comments. That’s an average of about three comments per day. And, according the the “Bloglebrity” widget, I’m a C-List Blogger. So there’s two whole categories of more popular bloggers than me — I’ve frequently seen posts with hundreds of comments.

Okay, so I’m whinging a bit, Guy Browning has written a genuinely funny article, but I couldn’t help but take it to heart a bit because I am a blogger, and he’s painting us with the same Broad Brush Of Generalisation™ rather than looking at us as individuals. From any other source, I’d not even have bothered.

But it does honestly seem like print journalists have got some kind of a bee in their bonnet about bloggers. Many of us are crap, that’s true. But don’t tar all of us with the same brush, okay?

But — and I do want to make this clear — despite all the above, I’m not having a go at Guy. Well, all right, but just a little bit. It’s a great column, I really enjoy it, and it’s funny. I just prefer it when it doesn’t feel like it’s an attack on a hobby of mine. Although strangely enough, I would have been quite happy for him to take the piss out me by generalising about computer programmers…

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2 Comments to Journos Are Scared Of Bloggers Volume 2

  1. Steve says:

    December 19th, 2006 at 9:52 am

    I just think some journalists should leave the internet alone because they can’t cope with/feel threatened by it.
    There was a whole Guardian magazine devoted to Web 2.0 recently and they just seemed to have trouble grasping the general concept of the web, let alone Web 2.0!

  2. Mike Cherim says:

    December 19th, 2006 at 1:59 pm

    My readers live within 6 million miles of me. Guaranteed. None live within 6 miles I’m almost certain of this. Nobody reads my posts on my machine.

    The media is scared of bloggers. We do it for free and often times do it better. More truthfully for sure. Blogger dilute the media and enrichen it at the same time.

    I’m a C-Lister too with 72 links in the past 180 days according to that thingy. Neat.

    For the record, I’m delighted when I get a comment on my blog. I see some of the blogs out there and the author can write “foo” fifty times and get 20 comments saying how great it is. I wish I could pull that off.

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