Daily Archives: January 3, 2011

Blogging isn’t dead, influence contests should be, and hyperlinks rock.

My belated wishes for the media in the New Year:

Please stop making generalized statements that “bloggers” are ____.

Blogs, whether they’re written by members of the media, business people or “average” citizens matter in 2011. A blog is a platform. All kinds of people use them. Some are more popular than others. Some are written by subject matter experts. Given the adoption of blogging software at the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and New York Times, the term “blogger” is is more a term of derision that an accurate classification.

The distinction of “blog” versus mainstream publication online has increasingly blurred to become nearly unrecognizable. Go back and read Nick Denton’s post on why Gawker is moving beyond the blog and consider his plan for new media in 2011.

Please stop writing headlines that “[X] is dead” or about “wars” between companies.

Exception: foreign correspondents and war journalists, both of whom exist in decreasing numbers these days. If you’re not covering an actual war, stop using the metaphor. Seriously.

For instance, blogs aren’t dead, though some of the activity and conversation that existed there in 2006 has moved in Facebook or Twitter in 2011. If you go with such a headline, steel yourself for a critical response.

Please link to the outlet and the journalist that broke a story, whether it’s “old media” or a blog.

Hyperlinks are the dendrites of the Internet. Hyperlinks are like a retweet on Twitter: they’re both social currency. Linking up the source for news story or fact with a link is like footnoting a research paper, except that it both helps the reader learn more and provides credit and authority to the site linked. Neither mainstream media nor blogs should be lifting stories without linking in 2011. So stop.

Please stop disparaging the influence of “bloggers.” Or talking about their pajamas.

It really doesn’t matter what I’m wearing when I file, though these days it’s a suit more often than shorts or pajamas.

The argument that one irate customer taking the Internet won’t matter is passe in 2011, as many publicly traded companies have found during online backlashes. A powerful short video and a post can and will go viral online, particularly if it’s a customer service or product issue that resonates widely.

That’s even more true so for blogs and writers at the top of an industry vertical, although Consumer Reports still has plenty of clout. When experts share their views online, they gain algorithmic authority online, which over time leads to influence over a given community. If Louis Gray or Robert Scoble or Mike Arrington cover a startup, it can put them on the map.

There’s no need to ask media critics like Brian Stelter, Felix Salmon, Ken Doctor, David Carr, David Folkenflik or Jay Rosen if they read blogs: they do. So do more “mainstream media influencers” like Katie Couric or the Sunday talk show hosts, along do the top editors of every publication I’ve talked to last year. The Pulitzer Prize now includes online organizations.

Please stop hosting influence contests. Lift up new voices.

Sure, an influence project might have sounded like a good idea in 2010. Many people disagreed. Strongly. Despite the backlash, new social media contests are still coming online for people to game. Predictably, strong critiques emerged, including those that focus on a different kind of digital divide. There is an emerging industry of analytics services that crunch big data and social recommendations to determine online influence or grade social media accounts, although they all have a long journey yet to evolve.

Instead of encouraging a community to engage in a popularity contest, considering using the power of an established media platform to empower new voices, highlighting what’s unique about an area and connect neighbors who might not know one another.


Filed under blogging, journalism, social media, technology, Twitter