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Independent Bloggers, can they compete? February 24, 2009

Posted by Ben Smith in Uncategorized.
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I looked at a couple of examples of independent political bloggers and I want to pose the question, can they they compete as a geniune alternative to mainstream media?

My first port of call was to explore the political webcasts of James Kotecki. He started out as a student with a keen interest in politics and decided he wanted to develop this interest further. He began uploading webcasts onto youtube where he would give his views on American politics. His endeavour in pursuing this idea and it’s growing popularity meant he was able to arrange and broadcast interviews with high profile politicians such presidential candidate Ron Paul and Senator John Edwards. Following the considerable growth in the following of his material, he obtained a job at the American television network ABC where he now produces video blogs on political matters. 

    Although some may see this as a success that an outsider was able to gain such a reputation and make his way into mainstream media, I think it could be looked upon differently. It could be seen as suppression of the independent voice. ABC were made aware of Kotecki through the popularity of his youtube channel may have looked upon giving him a job as a way of absorbing him into the mainstream media. In turn this strips him of his independence and his status as an alternative and competitor.

As a comparison I looked at Guido Fawkes blog which could be described as a blog version of Private Eye. This being that it is a satirical take on british politics. It may have spotted a gap in the market; however I feel that with any major success it could follow Kotecki’s example and the creator’s would another loss to the world of independent blogging.


What is the role of blogging in journalism? February 17, 2009

Posted by Ben Smith in Uncategorized.
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I spent some time looking over some of the popular independant and commercial blogs that have been created by experienced journalists and I pondered the role of blogging in journalism and the quality of content within them.

My first point of reference was the Drudge Report. Its creator, journalist Matt Drudge, collects and posts news from various sources around the world. The stories tend to involve gossip and scandal and this would seem to be Drudge’s method for attracting attention to his site. He has carefully selected these stories in an attempt to ensure quality content. However, without his personal contributions it seems to me to be no better than an internet search engine. The design of the site is very simplistic and this in my opinion does not give the impression of a professional site.

I then visited Wonkette,  a blog created by experienced and respected journalist Nick Denton following politics within Washington DC. It could be said to be similar to Private Eye, although Denton has found a niche in the market by focussing it on the happenings of one particular area. It is important for the success of the site that it has this niche. Blogging has grown so quickly that it is important for the success of a blog that it has a feature that makes it stand out from the crowd. The blog unlike a publication such as Private Eye can take advantage of its interactive nature and followers can readily comment on its content.

Lastly I visited the Autocar.co.uk the website of the well established and popular Autocar Magazine. The blogs are well written and concise are produced by extremely talented and experienced the journalists. They have made good use of images to compliment their writing and followers are are able to comment on their blogs. If I were to criticise their blogs I would say that they are slightly static and could benefit from links to video on the chosen subject matter.

This is a good example of blogging being used to a publication’s advantage by using it as an extension of it rather than be used to replace it as was feted on the launch of blogging. It would seem that blogging will continue to be a very useful tool to many publications.