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Suw Charman-Anderson

Suw Charman-Anderson

Suw Charman-Anderson is a social software consultant and writer who specialises in the use of blogs and wikis behind the firewall. With a background in journalism, publishing and web design, Suw is now one of the UK’s best known bloggers, frequently speaking at conferences and seminars.

Her personal blog is Chocolate and Vodka, and yes, she’s married to Kevin.

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Kevin Anderson

Kevin Anderson

Kevin Anderson is a freelance journalist and digital strategist with more than a decade of experience with the BBC and the Guardian. He has been a digital journalist since 1996 with experience in radio, television, print and the web. As a journalist, he uses blogs, social networks, Web 2.0 tools and mobile technology to break news, to engage with audiences and tell the story behind the headlines in multiple media and on multiple platforms.

From 2009-2010, he was the digital research editor at The Guardian where he focused on evaluating and adapting digital innovations to support The Guardian’s world-class journalism. He joined The Guardian in September 2006 as their first blogs editor after 8 years with the BBC working across the web, television and radio. He joined the BBC in 1998 to become their first online journalist outside of the UK, working as the Washington correspondent for

And, yes, he’s married to Suw.

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Sunday, February 13th, 2005

Bad Language: Associated Press’ fake blog

Posted by Suw Charman-Anderson

I saw on the feeds last week that Associated Press, old chestnut of the news wire, has started a blog called Bad Language. Flagged it ready to follow up but, whilst it’s easy enough to find syndicated versions of Bad Language posts, I’m having difficulty finding the blog itself. It’s one thing to read about it, but I really want to inspect the horse’s mouth for myself. Does it have fillings? Hallitosis? Gingivitis?

According to Yahoo, in Bad Language’s first post, Derrik J Lang, Associated Press Writer wrote:

Yeah, we know we’re like two years too late to straddle the blog bandwagon. But we’re backed by the largest and oldest news organization in the world. So, you know, we’ve got nothing to prove. Really. All you should expect from Bad Language is sarcasm-coated news and commentary about all things pop culture.

But where? No link.

MSN Entertainment syndicate another post, but insofar as I can see (and I can’t see all of it because MSN’s site doesn’t play well with Firefox) there’s no link back to the AP blog. The Miami Herald ran the story, but ditto. Editor and Publisher, ditto again.

Ok, cut to the chase, go straight to the AP website, but whilst I’ve found the horse, there’s no sign of the mouth - no link to the blog on the front page. Nothing on the site map either. Nothing on their What’s New page. Nothing on the Press Releases page.

What about Technorati? A quick keyword search turns up a lot of commentary but no links to Bad Language itself. I’m starting to wonder if this blog actually exists. Then a breakthrough from Common Sense Journalism:

And just to show how hip AP is, the Yahoo story does not have a link to this new blog. Yeah, that’s hip: let’s put out a blog that’s not easy to find among the 5 million or so that now exist.

(AP is following its old model, apparently, of making it accessible only through member newspaper sites. Here’s today’s entry (sub req after you’ve clicked once) at the Miami Herald about the “Playboy: The Mansion” video game. The writing is pretty much old AP with a (not much) breezier spin.

(Visit Bug Me Not to get a login if you need to.)

So Bad Language isn’t, in fact, a blog at all. It’s another wire, written as if it was a blog and unavailable to the general public except through the sites of those purveyors of news who have the cash to pay up for it. Bad Language is a phantom, a pretence, a fake.

I really don’t understand what AP think they are doing. You can’t become a part of the blogosphere simply by calling a wire a blog. It doesn’t work like that. Blogs syndication means that anyone can pick up an RSS feed and read it at their leisure, it’s not the same as old-fashioned news syndication where anyone who wants to reproduce your articles has to pay through the nose for it.

Blogs are discrete entities with a single, stable URI for the main page and permalinks for individual entries. They have trackbacks and comments and archives and categories. You can search Technorati for their cosmos or Truth Laid Bare for their position in the ecosystem. But Bad Language exists only in distributed form, scattered across the web on a number of news sites. It is not a blog, not by any stretch of the imagination.

AP have obviously and spectacularly failed to understand what ’syndication’ means in the blog sense or what a blog actually is. And what’s worse, the entries I’ve read so far are just not very good. Whilst it’s true that I have read drivel less interesting in my years as a blogger, this poor copy of Wonkette is written by someone who is supposedly a professional writer and it really should be better.

AP have a long, long way to go before they can claim membership of the blogosphere. Firstly, they need a blog. Secondly, they need a blogger who can write interesting and compelling posts. Thirdly, they need to engage with the blogosphere directly, on a first person basis, not try to latch on to the buzz through the intermediaries of news sites like Yahoo.

Question is, do they have the backbone to break their old media habits and truly embrace blogging?

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18 Responses to “Bad Language: Associated Press’ fake blog”

  1. Mark Wubben Says:

    Question is, should we care?

  2. Tim Aldrich Says:

    It matters little if we care.

    The point is that AP should care. It matters to people who care about the future of AP if they are saying ‘we blog, we understand new media’ but patently don’t.

  3. Nikki Carraway Says:

    At least they’re trying. From what little I’ve read, I think that blog is sorta good.

  4. Suw Charman Says:

    Should we care? Yes, I think anyone interested in the business of blogging should care a lot about fake blogs because if people who don’t know what blogs are think that Bad Language is a typical example, then that’s an awful lot of re-education that real bloggers are going to have to do. It’s a bit like feeding someone snails after telling them that it’s chicken - next time you offer them chicken they’re going to assume they’ll be getting snails.

    As for them trying… well, they’re not really trying very hard, except to jump on the ‘we’ve got a blog, aren’t we cool?’ bandwagon. As it’s a morning for analogies, it’s a bit like telling everyone you’ve bought a Ferrari, when really you’ve bought a Tonka Toy.

  5. Nikki Carraway Says:

    Those are analogies are not very good.

  6. Suw Charman Says:

    Feel free to suggest better analogies, Nikki.

    The bottom line for me is that Associated Press are, at best, misrepresenting Bad Language. They are saying they have launched a blog when they haven’t - it’s just a wire, like all their others. Until they actually launch a proper blog, with a single URI, RSS feeds, permalinks, trackbacks and comments, then any analogy where Person A is pretending that $Old_Thing is actually $New_Thing holds true.

  7. mikeymike Says:

    I am astounded, could they possibly think this is a blog because of the writing style? BTW Nikki in case you don’t know this, you are what’s known as a “troll”.

  8. Foster Says:

    Maybe someone should teach them to use one o dems newfangled hyperlinks instead of posting urls at the bottom of the piece. . . and seriously, blogspot accounts are free. . . why on earth are they doing it on Yahoo?

  9. Morgan Says:

    Actually, I think Nikki is what is commonly known as “an AP employee”.

  10. Foster Says:

    Damn! The more i look at this the worse it looks. . . Its not a blog, and its not newspaper material. Its like reading a small-town middle school newspaper. . .

    For chissakes, nobody in the blogosphere starts off EVERY POST with ‘By DERRIK J. LANG, Associated Press Writer’. . . if i didnt know better, id say this comes from the onion. . .

  11. Foster Says:

    No AP reporter would say something like: “Those are analogies are not very good.”

    Stuff like that comes from The New York Times.

  12. Foster Says:

    Haha! sorry to comment so much, but. . .

    The AP is NOT the oldest news agency in the world, as claimed by the blogs first post.
    L’Agence France-Presse is.

  13. Bubba James Says:

    i knowed a.p. a.p. deck. he went up aside my haid with a sangletree. near bout kilt my ass!

  14. MisterPundit Says:

    Figures. When I read “AP” and “New Media” in the same sentence I knew it was time to adjust my tinfoil hat and grab hold of the edge of my seat.

  15. ss Says:

    In the Playboy video game review, the AP “blogger” asserts that players (teenage boys presumably) will get tired of boobs, boobs, boobs. Um. I have to question this person’s credentials to review Playboy anything, especially Playboy products aimed at teenagers. Animated boobs are good enough to keep you busy all weekend when you’re 14.

    Maybe these kids will get bored intermitently, but their interest will perk back up in about 5 to 10 minutes.

  16. Registration Firewall Humbug Says:

    A “blog” behind a registration firewall?

    That’s not “cluelessness”, that’s “wishful thinking.”

    Why on Earth would I register to read AP’s twaddle when I can get the good stuff (InstaPundit, Protein Wisdom, etc.) for free?

  17. Minnie Pearl Says:

    Looks like ya’ll spoke too soon.

  18. Bad Language Says:

    Not a blog, not Bad Language

    Apparently Associated Press has launched a service called Bad Language which claims to be a blog but isn’t. Nothing to do with me and launched after I launched this site, although I’m sure that’s just a coincidence. What is interest…