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Bloggers are not journalists, and blogs are not newspapers

I've been meaning to blog about this but many things are happening...

Anyway, as readers of joshuaongys or *fourfeetnine* may have noticed, I appeared in an article by NST ten days ago.
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Being interviewed was new to me - I've been asked my opinion on blogs a few times (e.g. by the Committee to Protect Journalists, the NST (last year sometime) and malaysiakini.tv - but nothing ever seemed to come out of it. This time, the journalist turned up with a photographer and the interview lasted almost an hour - with the photographer hovering around and snapping away constantly. It was an interesting chat, but it made me realise one thing for future reference - the journalist knows less about the subject than me, and therefore may not always be able to ask the right questions. No disrespect to the journalist here, who did a good job condensing my ramblings into coherent and concise points: it's a journalist's job to get information obviously, and if they knew everything they wouldn't have to interview people. But it made me understand more how politicians and people in the public eye must approach journalists - wanting to make sure that their own message is heard, whatever the journalist actually asks.

Another thought is how, as a blogger, I have already got quite used to putting stuff out there for all to see - which was initially a little worrying sometimes. With the interview it was different, however, because I had no control over what was written - the journalist was kind enough to do 'quote check' and show me the draft article for feedback, but in the end she could write whatever she wanted. With a blog I can think about it beforehand, and even if I want take it down afterwards (though that's not usually a good thing for bloggers to do).

Anyway, you can read the article and tell me what you think (click to enlarge).

In terms of research ethics, I also found myself thinking about how much I can say - I have done a few interviews with bloggers already, and learnt some things during them. But part of the conditions of the interview are that I only use that information for academic purposes, and also that I keep the information anonymised. So, for example in relation to how much people are paid for advertorials, I actually have more specific information but I thought that I had better not use it.

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Another thing that was weird was being asked for my 'Personal Top 10' of various types of blogs. Suddenly I felt some pressure about who I should mention - what if someone felt snubbed that I didn't mention them!? There are really so many blogs out there that are interesting in their own way and I wasn't sure how to choose. Anyway, I decided that the easiest is just to be honest and mention the ones I'm most likely to read, and that are the most likely to appeal to the general reader out there. But in a way I suddenly found myself in a position of potential influence - maybe I would affect the readership of those blogs that I mentioned.

But in fact - not at all. It's been noted before (e.g. by ShaolinTiger) that appearing in the newspaper has little to no effect on incoming blog traffic; the same happened to me. See on the 18th (when the article came out) there is no change, but I got a huge boost of about 1800 hits on the 21st from Audrey whom I had mentioned in my Top 10 (check her out – refreshing attitude and daily whatevers are her thing). This really suggests one thing - people who read newspapers don't read blogs much, and vice-versa.


So, it's interesting to see how there are so many similarities between blogs and newspapers - they use words and images, they appear regularly and articles are written by individuals - but there are key differences. The blog is under the control of one person (with whom the readers can have some sort of direct relationship), but a newspaper is a large organisation; and although in theory they may share similar interests and concerns, their audiences are from different groups.

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aud on :

"The blog is under the control of one person (with whom the readers can have some sort of direct relationship)"

so true! and when something out of the usual happens like tim's entry on my blog a few days back, people react violently and angrily :-(

julian on :

ooh my wonderful bringer of thousands of hits! **bows** :-P

yes there was a very strong reaction to that! :-O If you mean that your readers were kind of annoyed at Tim 'butting in' (though he had your permission I suppose) I think you're right - they want posts from you and not someone else I suppose... hmmm... interesting, you got me thinking there :-)

Bernard on :

Hmmm...I wonder how to get the traffic like that *points to the stat chart above*..

Anyway, good coverage. The thing that may reflect such a statement that "People who read newspapers don't read blogs much, and vice-versa." is that people do not see blog as an alternative to the main stream media, not at least yet.

:-|

julian on :

For the traffic - ask **points to commenter above** how she does it!

It's also the context of how people 'consume' newspapers maybe - most people (especially the weekend editions) will be reading while relaxing at breakfast or in their home. They may not have easy access to the internet, or not find it as enjoyable as sitting back with a newspaper.

julian on :

Yup :-)

kruel74 on :

Read the interview but totally forgot about it especially when you left my blog from the Top 10...sob, sob (kidding man)

julian on :

Hehe there wasn't a category for legal bloggers who like to talk about women :-P

hweicheng on :

This is pretty irrelevant... but I still can't believe this(ur awesome research) is happening...I've seen you on the papers a couple of times and I still cannot believe it is you. LOL

Do ignore my comment. =P

julian on :

OK duly ignored :-P

Actually it surprises me too, but it's nice to have some of my work recognised!

Wen Li on :

I second that!

Julian, I think you're probably the first (few?) that has made it this far academically, and I believe you are gonna be truly successful in this area in the near future.

Honestly, I am really happy that you chose this path doing such an awesome topic for your research because blogging is one of the biggest growing field which is significantly impacting the lives of many out there!

I must add that it's amazing to see you doing this! and would definitely love to read your findings!

my best wishes!

julian on :

Hopefully I am the first approaching blogs from this angle, though there is quite a lot of research out there about blogs, particularly from a political/civil society angle.

Thanks for the good wishes :-) I will try to post regular updates on this blog.

synical on :

I remember reading the piece in the NST :-)

That's all I got :-P

julian on :

thanks? ?:s **not knowing how to respond**

KY on :

that is because Audrey is very fehmesss!

julian on :

Ya lor, truly a princess of the blogosphere :-)

Nadine on :

julianhopkins.net to GoogleReader!
Nadine

julian on :

hehe no need for newspaper there!

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