As someone else somewhere recently commented (can’t remember who or where, sorry!) blogging can be said to be like “shouting into a very large hole in the ground”.
I only mention that particular metaphor as it’s a fairly accurate description when you consider the core problem with those new to the blog world – scale. I’ve been pondering this since that Sunday Times article and think it might be worthwhile some of us taking a small step back so we can see the forest we are currently inhabiting.
Go on, step back, step out of the trees. Bloody long way, ain’t it. And what’s with all this marshland, not to mention the rotting blog corpses all over the place, the big shouty noises from behind that bush, and the fact that all the trees seem to be tightly gathered in bunches. Yipes, is that a pack of wolves!!? Ohh no my mistake, it’s a flutter of butterflies, how pretty. Ohh yeuch, I’ve just realised that the entire forest floor is covered in decomposing mulch and there is a distinct smell of bullshit.
Buggeration, now I’m lost.
Can’t see the forest for the trees? I can’t even find the path!
[Ed: Get off this metaphor train, next stop is No Reader City!]
Anyway my, partial, point is this. We all know journalists are lazy, so why are we surprised when they keep coming up with sweepingly awful generalisations about blogging? The view inside the “blogosphere” is very very different to that on the outside. I know where to find (what I consider to be) a lot of good blogs, I know which ones to avoid, I can tell the casual blogger from the dedicated hobbyist, but no-one from the press bothers to ask me. I bet they don’t ask you either.
Now, I’m no researcher (is it THAT obvious?) but given the sheer number of blogs, with more being added every minute, it’s almost no wonder that finding good examples is so hard. It’s not surprising that, when they see the size of the forest, our journalist cohorts plump for those sites on the fringes instead of delving past the sticky willows to find the richer pickings (lost my way a bit on that one, but you get what I mean).
Of course that isn’t an excuse, these journo guys and gals are paid to go that little bit further into the forest, but I think there shortcomings are understandable if not excusable. Mind you, even then, if all they can find is the dregs then I wonder why they keep writing articles about them?
What’s most odd is that this has been churning on and on and on for over two years now. Every now and then we get the equivalent of a small solar flare and every jumps up and down, shouts a lot, and tries to sound important and knowledgeable – The sun is exploding, the end of the world is nigh!! Blogging is the new journalism!! and so on. A few weeks later and everyone has put it to one side, only for the same arguments and babble to be dragged out later on.
So when a journalist gets some basic facts wrong about this little hobby of ours what should we do? Well, we are in a unique position to correct, few other hobbies have such an easily accessible, and global, interface so obviously there is plenty of scope for us to educate and enhance. Of course the view is that journalists, and this is where I’M generalising, are basically bashing blogs as they see them as a threat. If that’s the case then why don’t we take the high road here, be the grown up, and invite them in for a snoop around.
In the long run if bloggers and journalists are going to be competing (I wonder when a new term will be invented that will cover the new breed of blogging journalists that is sure to come about as both mediums become less and less distinct – joggists?? blornalists??) then the actions and noise that is currently being made is going to be used to set the scale. We have the bigger voice, it’s just a pity it is so fractious.
P.S. THIS may be another argument for why the Bloggies are a good thing. But I can’t be bothered taking it that far.