Blogging

From SourceWatch
Jump to: navigation, search

The dictionary defines blog (derived from web log) as, "A website that displays in chronological order the postings by one or more individuals and usually has links to comments on specific postings." [1] [2]

Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos weblog has written an insightful article about how bloggers helped turn the perception of first 2004 Presidential election debate in favor of John Kerry. "Bloggers, think tanks, the Kerry campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) all worked to fact-check Bush and point out his bizarre behaviour," he writes.[1]

"The flow of information flowed two ways, as the party establishment and allied organisations worked hand-in-hand with the blogs to gather ammunition, then blast it out to the world. The DNC and bloggers also urged readers and supporters to swamp online polls after the debate, and they did. Hours after the debate, just about every online poll gave Kerry huge victories in the debate."

Blogs driving the news

Commenting on the sentencing of Judith Miller in the outing of his wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA undercover operative, Ambassador Joseph Wilson had this to say July 6, 2005, about the role of blogging:

"I am glad to play a small role. In my America, when companies get big and lazy, competion arises. That is what is happening with the blogs. The press (MSM) has gotten fat and lazy. The blogs are now driving the stories."

WaPo Driving the "Right"

The Washington Post has hired Ben Domenech, co-founder of the conservative RedState.com, to write a new daily blog on its website called Red America, Editor & Publisher reported March 21, 2006.

"After a stint as chief speechwriter for Senator John Cornyn (R-Tx.), he co-founded [RedState.com] and became a book editor at Regnery Publishing, where he worked with Michelle Malkin and others," E&P wrote.

"Almost immediately the liberal blogosphere exploded with outrage over Domenech's hiring by the Post. But by Thursday bloggers had more than ideological reasons to oppose the Post's move, as he plagiarized film critic Stephanie Zacharek, and Mary Elizabeth Williams, writing about television," Joe Conason reported in Slate March 24, 2006. "As a college student Ben Domenech lifted arts criticism; as a GOP henchman, he was accused of fabricating a Tim Russert quote."

Dan Froomkin "has spent a decade at the Post, and also worked for the Winston-Salem Journal, the Miami Herald and the Orange County Register. Froomkin is also deputy editor of niemanwatchdog.org, the web site of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University," E&P wrote.

"Whatever Froomkin's political views may be, he is a veteran reporter with a long résumé of newspaper jobs, including a decade at the Post. Domenech is a partisan operative with no newsroom experience of any kind, no training in journalistic standards and ethics, and nothing to guide him except home schooling and Republican reflexes," Conason wrote.

Corporate blogging

Declaring "a new milestone for the commercialization of blogs," AdAge.com reports that Sony Consumer Electronics e-Solutions Group is paying $25,000 a month to be the exclusive sponsor of LifeHacker, a new weblog published by Gawker Media "about the software of personal gadgetry." Gawker blog readers are considered "prime influencers" or "connectors" on technology issues. "What Sony is paying for is reducing their odds that they look idiotic and increasing their odds that they hit a home run," explained Blogads.com founder Henry Copeland. But "ads can cheapen and compromise a blog," warned Carat Interactive's media director John Cate. [2]

Corporations have begun hiring bloggers to put out their messages and to promote products, wrote Mary Jacobs in the Dallas Morning News. Examples: "Stonyfield Farm Inc., a dairy products maker in Londonderry, N.H., hired a corporate blogger to write company-hosted blogs on nutrition and health as well as organic farming. Microsoft Corp. plans to hire bloggers to generate excitement about an upcoming product release. Electronic Data Systems Corp. of Plano last week launched its "Next Big Thing" blog at www.eds.com/blogs to discuss the future of technology." And Hill & Knowlton, one of the world's largest PR firms, is encouraging its employees all to blog—after they pass a quiz. Question #1: "Why do you want to blog?" is multiple choice, with the following options for answers: a) Get promoted; b) Get noticed; c) Get fired; d) Get headhunted; e) All of the above; f) None of the above; g) I don't know. [3]

In March 2006, news reports first appearing on blog sites and then in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal revealed that via the Edelman PR firm Wal-Mart was using bloggers to promote their company. [4]

The PR industry goes blog watching

In April 2005, the PR company Edelman and the "marketing intelligence" firm Intelliseek released a directory of the most influential bloggers and a white paper detailing the importance of blogs to marketing and PR. The directory "profiles bloggers in business, consumer packaged goods, consumer technology, healthcare, and marketing and public relations," and also "gives advice on blogger behavior and jargon."

"Clients are calling us with increasing regularity, asking what's going on [with blogs] and how is this affecting the business," said Edelman executive vice-president and GM of diversified services Rick Murray. Murray also warned that companies face risks when "attempting to communicate with the blogosphere -- you will do yourself harm." [5]

Edelman's white paper on blogs [6], called "Trust MEdia?: How Real People Are Finally Being Heard," was a little less ominous. "For companies, bloggers represent an immediate source of information and feedback, but also an opportunity to engage a rapidly expanding global network of influential, credible, passionate and involved group of real people who communicate constantly," said Pam Talbot, the head of Edelman U.S. The paper also notes that Edelman was the first major PR firm to launch a corporate blog, that of CEO Richard Edelman.

In April 2005, Issue Dynamics, Inc (IDI) "launched a formal Blogger Relations Practice and a companion website, http://www.bloggerrelations.com." The firm's press release stated, "IDI Blogger Relations clients have already included Fortune 50 corporations, national trade associations, advocacy groups and political party committees." The practice includes a "robust blog monitoring service," to provide clients with "actionable intelligence." Other practice offerings include "Blogger Outreach," Blog Building" (a "simple, inexpensive way to build a community for messaging, rapid response & brand protection, fundraising, analysis, and a host of other activities"), "Training" and "Blog Advertising." [7] [8]

Noting IDI's new practice, journalist, author and grassroots journalism advocate Dan Gillmor wrote, "As eWeek reported in February, a subsidiary of the firm issued a report denouncing municipal wireless installations without making clear that big telecom firms, which vehemently oppose municipal wireless systems, are among the firm's chief funders. (See also Glenn Fleishman's 'sock puppets' piece about this.) ... One of the imperatives in the emerging citizen journalism sphere will be to ferret out and tell readers about these techniques, in a systematic and lasting way." [9]

PR advice on handling activist bloggers

In an article posted to the Legal PR Bulletin, Richard S. Levick of Levick Strategic Communications advises companies on how they can defend themselves against online critics. Levick warns: "It is only a matter of time before blogs become commonplace weapons allowing well-organized adversaries to both disseminate and preserve shrewder anti-corporate messages. One recent blog, for example, attacks a plan by FedEx to build a hub at the Piedmont Triad Airport in Guilford County, North Carolina. Guilford County is a sprawling community that cannot easily convene town meetings to debate development projects. The blog is a natural substitute. ... The FedEx experience is illustrative for a larger reason as well. NGOs have often been marginalized as radicals. But because blogs are pure stealth warfare, people who might never choose to ally themselves with activists are more susceptible to their messages." And "NGOs are but one possible adversary. Labor unions and plaintiffs’ counsel are others. ... Tactically, blogs pose far greater threats than any other kind of online attack." [10]

RedState blogger boosts Wal-Mart for bucks

PR giant Edelman has hired RedState.org blogger Michael Krempasky "for his ability to connect with conservative audiences," O'Dwyer's PR Daily reports. "Krempasky, on his site, refers to the Edelman gig as his 'day job' versus his blogging hobby. His first mission is to play up Wal-Mart Stores' contribution to Hurricane Katrina. The world's largest retailer, which had over $282 billion in sales last year, has donated a total of $17 million for hurricane relief and is opening up "mini Wal-Marts" in effected areas to distribute food, diapers, clothing, water and other items to those in need. According to Edelman, Krempasky's hire demonstrates the firm's "leading role in trying to harness the power of the blogosphere for its clients." [11]

Fake bloggers

Fake blogs—a form of viral marketing in which PR or advertising agencies attempt to generate interest in their client's product by creating a fictional character on the internet—are drawing criticism from real bloggers. The Cohn & Wolfe PR firm had to apologize recently after "using a fictional character to leave a series of thinly veiled advertisements on blogs and other websites. A number of websites were hit last week with messages from Barry Scott," a fictional spokesman for a British household cleaning product. [12] [13]

British blogger Tom Coates was especially outraged and called it "a new low for marketers" after he wrote an emotional account of his relationship with his father, and then received comment spam from "Barry Scott" disguised as condolences. [14] Coates replied: "My view was that any right-thinking person would view trying to market your product on such a post as revolting, corrupt, cynical, disgusting, sick and dishonourable." According to some PR people, however, fake blogging is a good idea. [15]

Microsoft the enforcer

Microsoft shut down "a popular Chinese-language blog" by journalist Zhao Jing on December 30, on the grounds that it "has run edgy content potentially offensive to Chinese authorities." The blog "had criticized the government's firing of top editors at a progressive Beijing newspaper." Microsoft stated, "Most countries have laws and practices that require companies providing online services to make the internet safe for local users. ... In China, local laws and practices require consideration of unique elements." Mr. Zhao's earlier blog, hosted by the Scottish company Blog-City, was also blocked for writing about another newspaper. The Chinese government requires bloggers to register and prohibits online postings that are "against state security and public interest." Last year, Yahoo helped identify another Chinese journalist now serving a 10-year prison sentence for emailing a secret government order; [16] Cisco Systems has sold web filter programs to Chinese authorities.

Guides and books on blogging

Resources

Related SourceWatch resources

References

  1. blog, Dictionary.com, accessed May 2008.
  2. weblog, Dictionary.com, accessed May 2008.

External links