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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.

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.

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Corante Blog

Monday, March 26th, 2007

Mini rant: Stop calling everything a blog!

Posted by Kevin Anderson

Ok, I just looked up from desk and saw a segment on Sky News called Business Blog. What the hell is so bloggy about a business reporter sitting behind a desk on the telly? NOTHING! So stop calling it a blog.

Oh, but wait you say, Michael Wilson does have a blog on Typepad, buried somewhere in the sub-basement on the Sky News website right around the corner from janitor’s loo. Great! More news sushi! Just chop up what you would normally do and dump it on a blog.

What is interactive about this? Nothing. How is this engaging your audience? It’s not. Transparency? Nope. Easy for the gob on a stick (what some TV producers call the ‘talent’)? Possibly. Bottom line, what is compelling about this for the audience? Nothing. It will fail.

What I’m about to say may sound ridiculous coming from a ‘Blogs Editor’, but there is nothing magical about blog software - it’s just a really easy content-management system with comments. Just dumping content into a blog isn’t going to entice the masses to come round and participate. You actually have to engage with the audience, not just produce more flat boring content.

If you want to start a conversation with people, stop talking at them and start talking with them. Follow them sometimes, not the news agenda all the time. Link out. Link to blogs not just other news sites. Kick off a conversation. Don’t just ask: “What do you think?”

You can have the best technology and still fail because your content is stuck in the age of publishing, not the age of participation. And for chrissakes, stop calling everything a blog because you think a bit of branding is all it takes.

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12 Responses to “Mini rant: Stop calling everything a blog!”

  1. andyp Says:

    Yep, absolutely behind your proto-campaign to stop people branding things blogs when they are not. The London Lite newspaper does something similarly stupid in some of the 2-sentence reader film reviews and other snippets they publish, which I think they brand “blogs” too - although I haven’t actually looked at a copy for a few months so I can’t remember exactly what they call them. Interestingly they do have a section on their website where their section editors have blogs… I just had a quick flick through it, and very few have entries that have been commented on, and even fewer have more than 1 comment to imply that the author has read or responded as part of a conversation. At least they are making an effort.

  2. avi Says:

    Parasites are everywhere.

  3. Lee Says:

    It seems to be that people are adopting the moniker to seem ahead and forward thinking.

    The examples given, london lite and Sky News, show companies that are actually responding to the meta tag culture. Blog becoming quickly attributed to something quick, a thought, a dash, a note underlined.

    If anything at least it’s perhaps enabling non blog readers to engage with the term, then visit one, then comes thier first comment, then comes their first subscription (wow i can get all the content in my toolbar!).

  4. George Says:

    This isn’t all that surprising when there’s such a basic misunderstanding of blogging among many people who ought to know better. Only yesterday, a ‘leading website editor’ (though the anonymity makes it difficult to judge his or her credentials) was quoted in The Independent as saying “What is the difference between a short newspaper article and a blog post anyway?” (http://news.independent.co.uk/media/article2390870.ece)

  5. Kevin Anderson Says:

    George,

    I think that some of this is down to commonly held misconceptions about blogging. Many in the media think that blogging is just opinion - mistaking opinion from people just blogging about their lives. They think that they do opinion and commentary better than just about anyone and go about setting up a blog.

    It may be a basic misunderstanding of blogging, but it’s a commmon one.

    thanks everyone for the comments.
    k

  6. Gord Says:

    Isn’t this a bit rich coming from someone who works for a newspaper that rebrands all of its comment pieces as ‘blogs’, no matter who produces them, how they’re written, or whether there’s any chance for a conversation?

    David Cameron’s a Guardian blogger, is he?

    http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/david_cameron/index.html

  7. Alfie Says:

    Ah, when I saw the post title I hoped this was a cry for folk to stop calling “posts” “blogs”, the inevitable “I wrote a blog about you at the party last night” statements get me riled up beyond the point that they should.

  8. Ben Says:

    Thanks for the mini-rant Kevin, very erudite, I’ve passed in on to my firm as a good explanation on how a blog differs from a list of press releases… our company blog has a tendancy to go to the ‘this is what we’re doing today’ statements of fact with little room for discussion/dialogue.

  9. Julian Says:

    This got me thinking - have a read!

  10. Peter Says:

    Kevin - While some of your points are pretty valid I think you’ve missed a key point. What I believe you saw was Sky News’ Business Editor Michael Wilson asking viewers to comment on a story he’d just read about ‘Green Fuel’, Did you by any chance have the sound turned down and jumped to the conclusion that he was actually doing a ‘TV Blog’? We don’t do that.

    What we are trying to do is give our viewers a channel to comment on and discuss our stories and how we cover them. Whether that fits the definition of a blog is open to debate.

    That said, you’re right about the need for more ‘conversation’ through these channels.

    Peter Hoskins, Senior Business Producer, Sky News

  11. Kevin Anderson Says:

    Peter,

    First off, thanks for taking the time to respond.

    It’s been a few weeks, and I can’t remember exactly what the piece was about. I will admit on this particular day, I did have the sound turned down, but I was responding to what was on the site as much as what was on the air. Although your business editor might have been trying to kick off a discussion, I found the post still was too much of a traditional news piece online, what I might have rather uncharitably called in a fit of pique ‘more boring, flat content’. But as a viewer, not as a blogger or the Guardian blogs editor, I didn’t really feel much of an invitation or motivation to take part in a debate.

    I can understand using a piece as the launching pad for a debate, but as a suggestion, you might want to use the two ways after the news item to actually lay out different parts of the debate or even see if bloggers are talking about the issues that you’re covering. You might use that blog research as the basis for your blog post. As I tell journalists at the Guardian, bloggers pay attention to who is linking to them. We often get a few comments from bloggers who we link to. Linking out and quoting bloggers is a good way to frame or kick off the debate, and I find it much more inviting than the traditional news treatments that I see often on the BBC or Sky with the throw away comment “What do you think?”

    I’ve also responded to Julian March who commented on your blogs about my post. But again, thanks for making the effort to respond.

  12. Sony Joy Says:

    Hey check out http://www.mobshare.in
    Will that qualify for a blog? ;-) But this one is a mobile blog… You can send pics from your phone directly to mobshare via MMS. Now that matches my ‘mobile lifestyle’