Little Guys

Like many others, I’m obviously very interested in Comment is Free from the Guardian, a ‘superblog’ similar to The Huffington Post.

Arianna Huffington today suggested that the ‘little guy’ finds a level playing field online. This is true in many ways, not least because governments can no longer control the media, and dissidents can find a voice. However, Tim Worstall points out that Arianna’s examples are hardly members of the disenfranchised:

A former editor of the Times, Guardian columnist, a man knighted for services to journalism, very definitely one of the Great and the Good, is one of the little guys? [On Simon Jenkins presenting real time opinions]

Arianna is one of the bloggers posting on Comment is Free, along with other high-profile names. I somehow wonder whether the new venture will help level the playing field at all…

At the Press Gazette blog, Justin from Chicken Yoghurt asks whether the mainstream media are blogging properly:

I have yet to see a newspaper blog where the writer has got down and dirty with the readers. This defeats the object of blogging to a large extent and is seen as poor etiquette by many non-newspaper bloggers

I might add to this, that linking is also a huge part of blogging. The web is a perfect place to cite others, take their arguments to task, or to new places. Not only should bloggers correspond with their reader(s), but allow those readers to link elsewhere too. The first article I read on Comment is Free was by Brian Brivati, on the discrepancies between The Left’s responses to Iraq and Darfur. Could I leave a link to my earlier thoughts on the same issue? No I could not… and my comment appears devoid of context, like some fucking chump who doesn’t know to type properly.

I could blame The Guardian’s editors for this, and suggest that they really don’t care about anyone else’s opinions. However, the truth of the matter is that because the The Guardian is a highly visible part of the media business, it must ensure that none of its comment is offensive, libellous or (in these heady days) blasphemous. Moderating comments is already a Herculean task for them. Moderating links would be impossible. The result is yet another site that cannot fully exploit the power of the internet. Only the little guy, operating from his bedroom or surreptitiously at work, has the time to moderate comments properly. He is the only true blogger. The mainstream media are desperate wannabes, spending money to join the club, but always on the periphery.

Funny how the two bloggers I quote directly in a post entitled “Little Guys” are actually two of the most read in the UK…

15 Replies to “Little Guys”

  1. You sad ****. Why don’t bloggers get a fucking live and walk out into the sunshine once in a while? You will never, ever matter one billionth as much as even the least-read newspaper, magazine or least viewed tv programme. That Huffington dickhead said it all “bogging is the most vital voice in the US”. Fuck off you twat. That’s like saying a stupid old drunk shouting through a piss-stained megaphone is the mnost vital voice or some wank writing on a toilet wall is. GET A LIFE

  2. Oh dear, you’ve acquired a troll Robert. Mr, um, spanker.

    You seem to miss the point. It matters not how many read the blog, but who. It was a blog that first raised the problems of the Legislative and Regulatory reform bill, a journalist read that blog, it became a news story that’s now finally breaking the mainstream media. But blogs will keep up the pressure even if the MSM moves on, and when it comes up for another vote, the media will have a pool of research to write about.

    Also, I know that at least one MP reads my blog, possibly more. Private Eye has a low circulation, but a big impact.

    Blogging is only now becoming known in the UK, it’s beginnign to break through, we’re a few years behind France and the US in that. I don’t actually want us to become a copy of the US bloggers; let’s learn from their mistakes shall we?

    We may not “matter” as much as the least read newspaper; but I guarantee that newspaper is paying people to read us.

  3. a) Right on Bert and MatGB (whose blog I shall now make a beeline for)
    b) Thank you Mr Spanker for a hilarious comment.

    But what is he doing reading blogs if he feels that way about them?

  4. It matters not how many read the blog, but who.

    MatGB – while I agree, the problem is that the net and the blogosphere is an even lonier place than the maintream media. Sure you can get people going on about the most vital stuff…. but amongst all the crap – how do you actually find it?

    I find Arianna’s article quite annoying. I plan to write about it later, but the blogosphere is actually very similar to mainstream media when there’s lots of little papers with ideas. Remember that Simpsons episode when everyone follows Lisa’s example and publishes their own paper? That’s the blogosphere. Just because there are no barriers to entry doesn’t mean its full of quality.

  5. how do you actually find it?

    This is where the importance of comments, interactivity and linkage comes in… and where BBC blogs and ‘Comment is Free’ fall down.

    Clay Shirky’s essay on Power Laws and Weblog Inequality is interesting reading about the rise of A-list bloggers:

    “At the head will be webloggers who join the mainstream media (a phrase which seems to mean “media we’ve gotten used to.”) The transformation here is simple – as a blogger’s audience grows large, more people read her work than she can possibly read, she can’t link to everyone who wants her attention, and she can’t answer all her incoming mail or follow up to the comments on her site. The result of these pressures is that she becomes a broadcast outlet, distributing material without participating in conversations about it.”

  6. When I started blogging it only hit me much later that the main stream media just-don’t-get-it. No doubt they will, but for the moment the truly public sphere is somewhere they cannot get to. Whether its for commercial, political or legal considerations, a newspaper has to place an impermeable barrier between itself and the real world.

    If your memory goes back long enough you may remember the Modern Review, the first organ that was entirely “Low Culture for Highbrows”; stuff we find weekly in every glossy magazine today. Those glossy magazines took many years to catch on to the idea – that you could write serious articles on someone or something that was popular as opposed to lauded.

  7. Sunny; I tend to read some blogs every day, others every few days, others weekly. I also read any roundup style blog that’s there, and nominate good stuff to Tim for Britblog weekly.

    Ergo; if it’s good, it gets linked to. On a day when I’ve got writers block, I just throw links to good stuff around; I know it’s pointing people in the direction of other well written posts or covering issues that are important.

    You’re right that not all of them are quality. When I first started, the blogroll was going to be just the best. But then, well, I kept finding good blogs, so it became ‘all the politics blogs’. But then I found some dire ones, and decided to filter at least some.

    But then, everyone has at least one good post in them, right?

    Robert; the issue with success meaning you can’t engage any more is why I think group blogs are, medium term, the way to go. Most of the time, someone asks Paul a question, I can answer it, and vice versa. Of course, getting a co-blogger whose views are almost identical to mine was fortuitous to say the least.

    On the other hand, if we get so succesful we become broadcast, then the ad revenue becomes enough to do it full time, right? Giving us more time to respond…

  8. Interactivity is not such a huge issue to some bloggers, eg. Norm Geras, Oliver Kamm – those guys don’t have comment facilities on their blogs yet still get lods of readers. On the other hand, I believe it’s always good to debate your views with others in order to refine and improve them, and to draw readers’ attention to things you want to show. Linking and commenting will always be important to the majority of bloggers.

    I don’t really understand why Guardian Unlimited couldn’t just put a disclaimer up on CIF saying “no responsiblity for commenters’ opinions/content of external links and such” just like the BBC does. The old Guardian newsblogs, troll-infested as they were, still allowed commenters to include links in their posts. The blog is very new, and I hope they’ll change it to allow links.

  9. Funny how the two bloggers I quote directly in a post entitled “Little Guys” are actually two of the most read in the UK…

    I really must show you my visitor stats some time, Robert. Harry’s Place, I ain’t. It’s more a question of, as Mat says, not how many but who, I think.

  10. Justin; you’re in the top 20 for Britblog last I looked, which pretty much shows that overall all our readerships are low; what scares me is how high mine are compared to others that I still think of, well, ‘better/more established’?

    Morethanthis? I think it’s the lact of comments that lead me to not read Norm as much, he’s on my feed, but I tend to just scroll past. Whereas other blogs I come back to regularly just to see comments (like this one, for example).

    Comments, to me, maketh the blog. And I get my fair share of anonymous trolls same as the rest.

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