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A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

Posts from the Blogging Category

Ah, Media Twitter is all aflutter with this news from the New York Times:

The Gateway Pundit, a provocative conservative blog, gained notice last year for its fervent pro-Trump coverage and its penchant for promoting false rumors about voter fraud and Hillary Clinton’s health that rocketed around right-wing websites.

Now the site will report on politics from a prominent perch: the White House.

And they certainly seem pleased about it:

Heavens-to-Betsy, a blogger in the press room? There will be a predictable backlash from journalists (in fact there probably already is one), who will do some eye-rolling at the infiltration of the true journalists’ space. And they will all have forgotten this:

Bloggers and pundits have been granted access to White House briefings in previous administrations

The use of the word “blog” here is pretty arbitrary. The definition of “blog” and “website” are pretty hazy at the best of times and the past five years have only blurred that. (Remember when people were calling Buzzfeed and Huffington Post blogs?)

Gateway Pudit itself has a little fun with that distinction:

The New York Times, a provocative liberal blog

The concern here isn’t that the White House has granted press credentials to a Pro-Trump Blog, but that it has granted them to a Pro-Trump blog. But even that shouldn’t necessarily be of deep concern, because we have so much partisan press already (especially in the UK).

The pundit/propagandist boundary

When should we worry? Well, look at the outlet’s record for truth – if it’s so pro-Trump that it lies for the president, than it’s crossed that hazy line from partisan journalism to straight-up propaganda. And on that charge, they have some form:

The Gateway Pundit did not see protesters getting on or off the bus, and they offered no proof that any protesters had been paid (by George Soros or anyone else). The web site published three pictures of buses and then fabricated a story about paid protesters based on the mistaken observations of a sole Twitter user.

The Washington Post, a blog owned by tech mogul Jeff Bezos, has many more examples for you:

Just last week, the Gateway Pundit published the absurd, social media-generated claim that the Washington Post’s Doris Truong had sneakily snapped cellphone photos of notes belonging to secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson, during his confirmation hearing. Truong was not at the hearing; it made no sense to think she would have been at the hearing, since she is an editor of The Post’s website.

In some parts of the world, blogging is still very much a revolutionary activity:

Pakistani blogger Aasim Saeed who went missing earlier this month has been found but has quickly left the country fearing for his life, his family said on Sunday. Saeed’s father said his son was detained by “state agencies” while visiting Pakistan from Singapore, though he did not name which one. Pakistan’s government and Federal Investigation Agency have denied holding any of five liberal activists who went missing this month.

He, at least, is alive and visible. There are questions about others:

Five liberal activists, some of whom have posted blogs criticising the political influence of the military and speaking for the rights of religious minorities, had each gone missing separately since Jan. 4.

Medium publications on iOS

Medium is making Publications, its approach to creating “websites” within the platform, much more prominent in its apps:

Only publications that you follow on Medium will be featured on your app’s home screen (and only when they have new posts to read), so make sure to follow publications you enjoy. You can find suggested publications to follow here, or hit the Explore button (next to Publications) on your app’s home screen to browse curated categories.

It seems that Medium has finally chosen to be a platform over a publisher – and this is a nice step to making it more compelling.

Dave Winer:

You can look at journalism as a process that yields a result. It begins with an interest or a question. Are young blacks voting for Hillary? Begin with interviews, find young blacks, ask them. Talk to a few pollsters and sociologists, get expert opinions All the time you’re doing searches to find these people, you may not even have to speak with them, just read what they’ve said on Twitter or their blogs. Then you write it all up, edit it, add some pictures, maybe a video, give it a title, hit Publish. That’s a process and the result it yields. That’s journalism, imho.

Y’know, that’s not bad.

Dave Winer reiterates his distinction between blogging and journalism, in the wake of Gawker’s end:

Blogs are what sources write, not what reporters write. An irreverent scandal sheet written by professional reporters is not a blog.

The piece that triggered his comments proclaims that blogging is dead. Even within its own words, though, it contradicts that idea with a more complex one – that blogging is now just one of a ever-growing number of ways of expressing yourself online. Blogging has more competition – and is edging towards middle age. Nothing wrong with that.

If anything, the end of Gawker is just your cool, rebellious friend who got ever more frantic through his early 20s, dropping out of sight because eventually the lifestyle took too much toll on him. Blogging is entering the early stages of middle age, and becoming both compfortable and useful. As MG Siegler wrote earlier, when asks
ed why he still writes a blog:

My first answer is the best one: writing helps me clarify my own thoughts on any given topic.

That will never stop being useful.

Interesting profile of Ev Williams, the man behind Blogger, Twitter and now Medium, over at The Atlantic:

But as I spend more time with Ev, I catch him thinking of Medium as a project philosophically akin to the “Foundation” novels by Isaac Asimov. The heroes of those books sought to centralize all the learning across the galaxy before a dark age set in, knowing that though they cannot stop the shadowed era, they may be able to preserve scholarship and therefore shorten it. Ev’s ambitions, though not as grandiose, follow similar lines. Medium seeks to replicate the web’s old, chaotic hubbub on a single, ordered site—because, ultimately, Ev values the chaos.

Of all the things I expected to find in the WHSmith in Clapham Junction, this was not one of them:

Blogosphere Magazine on sale in WH Smith

Blogosphere? (Top shelf, right hand side.) There’s a word I haven’t heard – or used – in a long, long time. It’s a magazine that is

for bloggers by bloggers

Well, nearly 15 years in, I’m pretty sure I count as a blogger, so I picked up a copy. A £5 gamble based on nothing but a much-mocked piece of jargon. Get in there.

An indy mag at a mainstream price

It’s a curious beast this magazine. It has the feel and heft of an independent magazine – the sort of thing you’d find lining the walls of magCulture, and which you’d expect to cost around a tenner. But it’s very much priced as a mainstream mag. There’s a limited range of adverts – but some big brands are represented there, including Canon and Olympus, who seem like a good match for the target audience.

Talking of target audiences – who do they seem to be? I’d say it was clearly targeted at blogger and would-be bloggers, with a side order of blog readers. It’s a stark reminder that lifestyle blogging has become so pervasive that the audible of creators and wannabe creators (however oxymoronic that may seem) is sizeable enough to be a targetable niche in its own right.

If you want an example of this in action – check out a post on a major fashion blog, where all the commuters seem to be bloggers themselves. For example:

Wendy's Cookbook comment linkers

There’s an interview with the editor and founder on Passion Pods which I listened to this evening while preparing dinner for the family. It wasn’t a great surprise to hear that Alice Audley probably identifies more with the label “journalist” than “blogger” – she started blogging because she was told it was a good route into journalism, and she worked at The Telegraph before quitting last summer to run Blogosphere full time. The whole enterprise is a very journalistic take on blogging – right down to the absence of the magazine’s content on the website. That’s intentional, it transpires – Audley subscribes to a variation on the “original sin” theory about the tribulations of journalism: we shouldn’t give away what we expect people to pay for in another medium.

Regular readers will know what I think of that…

A slice of the blogosphere

Incisive wisdom on choosing your friends

Despite the title, Blogosphere is very much just about a small slice of the blogosphere. Don’t expect to find any trace of political, business or science blogging between its quality stock paper pages. This is lifestyle blogging all the way. In fact, I wonder how aware of the wider history and role of blogging the core team are. Audley describes a blogger who kicked off in 2006 as a “pioneer” in the Passion Pods interview – I wonder how the 1999-era pioneers whom inspired me to start back in the early 2000s would react to that idea.

But, this really doesn’t matter. This is a quasi-independent magazine with a mainstream price, targeting that band of aspirational lifestyle, food, fashion and travel bloggers that are much of the growth in blogging at the moment. It’s almost like Bloglovin’ came to life, and was then incarcerated in the pulped corpse of dead trees.

And the general design ethos of the magazine reflects that audience. There are some lovely sketches used to differentiation some sections:

Blogosphere's agony aunt

It’s got that young, urban, almost-hipster-but-not-quite vibe of lifestyle blogging, even if some of the featured bloggers are nearly as old as me…

Blogging with ink and paper

Profiling bloggers

A surprising chunk of the magazine is taken up with single page profiles of various bloggers. On one level this is fascinating – each is a mini-interview in its own right, and so you get some interesting insights into motivations and interests. On the other, it’s slightly frustrating. You end up sat there with the magazine in one hand and your iPad in the other, typing in URLs to check out the sites. This is where I longed for better online version of the content. It would allow you to separate the “lean back” enjoyment of reading the print product from the “lean forwards” checking out links.

The majority of the content is as lifestyle-y as its target audience – profiles of significant players. for example. This should give you a taste of the general tone:

There’s some advice on blogging, too, of variable quality. Some of its is sound and good practice while, for example, some of the SEO advice is at the very least, questionable, if not actively wrong.

It’s split into six sections:

  • beauty
  • fashion
  • food
  • travel
  • lifestyle
  • photography

Each is curated by a blogger know for their work in that space.

But the surprising thing about it is the sheer heft of the magazine – this is a 162 page behemoth, with only a small number of ad pages. It’s published quarterly – and that’s probably a good rate given the sheer amount of content on offer.

Verdict

Will I buy more of Blogosphere? Oh, yes.

Look: I’m not in anyway part of the target audience. The tag line “for bloggers by bloggers” would be more accurately rendered as “by a subset of bloggers for a subset of bloggers who aspire to be like that first group”, and I’m not any part of that. But the magazine sits at the heart of that cultural zeitgeist in blogging, and it’s useful to me in my work because of that.

Plus, it’s a bloomin’ lovely magazine. And magazines were my first love, personally and professionally. It’s nice to see my two passions, one former, one current, mingle in this way.

Further Reading

A blog is a bet on the long-term value of your content

Luca Sartoni on why he still blogs:

Social Networking Sites come and go. In ten years from now, Facebook will be different from what we are used now, it’s inevitable. Most likely, all the content we are publishing there it will be accessible in ways we cannot imagine now, but there is a chance it won’t be that easy to extract the whole value we are creating within the walled garden.

Now, admittedly Luca works for Automattic, which is the dominant player in the WordPress world. But his point remains valid: use social platforms for short-term gain, but always have an eye to the future and that means your own platform.

When I started in the social media game, the editors I worked with wanted to do things in MySpace and Second Life…