Ada Lovelace Day

About The Authors

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.

Email Suw

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 BBCNews.com.

And, yes, he’s married to Suw.

E-mail Kevin.

Member of the Media 2.0 Workgroup
Dark Blogs Case Study

Case Study 01 - A European Pharmaceutical Group

Find out how a large pharma company uses dark blogs (behind the firewall) to gather and disseminate competitive intelligence material.


free page hit counter



hit counter script


All content © Kevin Anderson and/or Suw Charman

Interview series:
at the FASTforward blog. Amongst them: John Hagel, David Weinberger, JP Rangaswami, Don Tapscott, and many more!

Corante Blog

Monday, September 18th, 2006

Why I blog, and why the MSM should and many times shouldn’t

Posted by Kevin Anderson

That’s the title of the talk I gave last week at IBC and that I have given in various forms at other places over the last year. I began the talk by showing off some numbers from Dave Sifry’s most recent State of the Blogosphere reports, the latest one being from early in August. Technorati is now tracking 50 million blogs, and that’s just a self-selecting sample of people who have registered with the site (well self selecting and plenty of splogs, spam blogs, which the Team Technorati is working on trimming from its ranks). That’s a lot of people.

The mainstream media, or MSM for short, can give 16-year-olds trying to lay their hands on the latest fashion a run for their money when it comes to herd-like activity. And newspapers, TV networks and everyone else trying to protect or resurrect an old media business model have jumped enmasse on what Jon Stewart called the Blogwagon. But it’s mostly been an unthinking, headlong rush towards the blogosphere, “to get snaps” from the good-as-advertising-gold 18-to-34 demographic.

Is this really about giving a voice to the already voiced, as Jon Stewart says? What value is it to our audiences to serve up ‘news sushi’, content we already produce and publish but just served up in bite-sized blog bits in reverse chronological order? And I can hear the editors out there saying: “But blogs are just snarky comment, and hey we’ve got snarky columnists in spades. We are so going to own the Technorati and iTunes Top 10.” (And I’ve heard them say this.) Sorry, but if you want to sit up on high and keep pushing your content out at the “great unwashed masses”, YouTube, CraigsList and their successors are so gonna own your asses.

This is not about changing your content management system. You’ve already sunk a lot of cash into those. This is about changing your culture. What do blogs allow you to do that you don’t already do?

  1. Blogs can get you closer to your audience

    And that’s exactly where you need to be. I met Robert Scoble at a Geek Dinner here in London last summer, and he talked about having a conversation with his customers on how Microsoft could better serve their needs. I don’t really understand when journalists moved away from their audience, but many people have that impression.
  2. Blogs can bring new voices to your journalism

    Since when did journalism become a game of pick the pundit? It’s lazy, and it’s turned a lot of journalism into a talking shop amongst pundits, politicians and other journalists. Google yourself some new voices. In the last year, blogs have helped me bring serving soldiers in Iraq onto programmes, helped me hear from a Saudi teenager calling for women’s right to vote and let me eavesdrop in on a guy’s thoughts as he left New Orleans to escape Katrina.
  3. Blogs can get you closer to the story

    Blogs and a world of tools that have grown up around them make creating multimedia stories in the field easier than ever. I’m an online journalist because I believe that the internet is a revolutionary medium. I can do better journalism with blogging tools: Real, raw and in the field, while being in constant contact with my audience. What do they want to know? What questions do they have for the people I’m interviewing?
  4. Blogs could just re-invigorate western democracy

    OK, OK, maybe I’m getting a little carried away. But I’m still an idealist at heart. That’s one of the reasons I got into journalism. Steve Yelvington, who really should be in your RSS reader, put it this way recently:

    1. The end of mass media. Here’s what the 20the century gave us: A population of consumers whose economic role was to eat what they’re served and pay up. These “people formerly known as the audience” are alienated, disengaged and angry. Instead of setting our sights on building a nation of shopkeepers, bankers and passive consumers, what if we set our sights on building a nation of participants in cultural and civic life? Perhaps this world where everyone can be a publisher will not be such a bad place.

And as Steve says a few days later in his blog, there isn’t a silver bullet, and I’m not going to try to sell blogs as one. But Steve told me in Florida a year ago that blogs represent a complex set of social behaviours that we’re just understanding. Blogs are just the tip of the ice berg in this fast moving world of participatory media. Blogging and the mainstream media has to be more than ‘me-too-ism’, and it can be. With a little thought to understand these new behaviours and a willingness to actually accept and adapt to these changes instead of wishing they weren’t happening, we might just have a chance.

technorati tags:, ,

Email a copy of 'Why I blog, and why the MSM should and many times shouldn't' to a friend

EMAIL THIS ENTRY TO A FRIEND



Separate multiple entries with a comma. Maximum 5 entries.



Separate multiple entries with a comma. Maximum 5 entries.





E-Mail Image Verification

Loading ... Loading ...

5 Responses to “Why I blog, and why the MSM should and many times shouldn’t”

  1. Steve Says:

    Kevin, you’ve made some great points. I still think that the MSM is in its blogging infancy; it is still trying to figure this medium out. For instance, I’ve wondered what kind of business model views its customers as annoyances. Or, why don’t news organizations tap into their biggest fans by treating them as fiends instead of as friends?

    Ultimately, I, the reader/viewer/site visitor/listener, is the one that the MSN must appease. It should make sense to try to connect with me to find out what I want to learn more about, what questions I have, etc. Blogging is one way to find that out.

  2. Loki Says:

    Kevin, I think you are dead right. (I also appreciate the link to my “fleeing Katrina podcasts”) Here in New Orleans we are undergoing an evolution in the local blogosphere. MSM has failed us through a combination of hyperbole and misreporting, most people worldwide do not realize that 80% of the city is still decimated.

    Local New Orleans bloggers have begun to mobilize and work towards effecting positive change during this mismanaged attempt at rebuilding our home. We share information, develop collaborative projects, and try to watchdog the situation while fighting for our survival.

    I am so glad to live in an age where this sort of information technology is commonplace. I would still be trying to locate many of my friends and family were it not for the internet. I am also proud to say that people around the world have written me, shocked and appaled at the situation my neighbors and I face living here.

    MSM has provided a lot of phot-ops for President Bush, but the face of things on the street is quite different. (See the list of NOLA Blogger links in my sidebar)

    I certainly hope we have that chance you speak of….

  3. Kevin Says:

    Loki!

    Good to see you. I really like the Think New Orleans project that you’re involved with. I hope the geek dinners there are a big success. My friend Ian here in London organises the Geek Dinners here.

    Thanks for the comment. I have a lot of hope that a better partnership between the MSM and ‘the people formerly known as the audience’ can do some good.

  4. Loki Says:

    If you ever make it down here I’ll buy you a drink!

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Nice