Monthly Archives: March 2014

So Many Options, So Little Regulation

This infographic from http://blog.qmee.com/qmee-online-in-60-seconds/ confirms my suspicions about how difficult it is to become a credible blogger. With 571 websites created and 347 blogs written every minute, how can one stand out from the pack of opinions and resources to become trustworthy and build a fan base? Not only that, but how do serious bloggers get access to public figures and information while other writers with the exact same title simply make up facts and cost the credibility of bloggers in general?

This is why I find issue with allowing all internet writers the protection of journalists. Bloggers do not have editors and fact checkers to validate their information, and therefore should not always be taken seriously. Yes, some bloggers put in the time and effort to write in-depth stories about events and public officials, but even if they do get all their information right there is a slim chance that the topics of their stories will grant them the time for an interview, which I personally think is a necessity to any story. I understand that bloggers are credited with discovering many stories that the media has left unmentioned, but they also they have more room for error and uncertainty.

I think the solution to this would be if every blogger who wished to have an accredited page to go through an online SPJ course. After they complete the journalism course, they would be allowed to post on their page that they are SPJ approved. This will promote ethical blogs, and will separate the pranksters from the actual citizen journalists. This would also help public figures decipher which bloggers are trustworthy and which ones might be in it for other reasons. In

There is way too much information on the web to control content, and without an overarching set of standards I do not believe that blogging can progress past where it is today. Sure, some people look at blogs for their news, but when a breaking story happens, we turn to the corporate media like CNN and MSNBC to bring us the updates. A code of ethics that serious bloggers would adhere to would create a better environment for trust on all sides of writing a story. The sources would be more comfortable, the author would be protected, and the readers would know that they are getting accurate information.

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“The commission should make it clear that the information superhighway is not a tollway.”

http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/01/23/6562

I’m no longer shocked by the extent that the government and large corporations can (and do) manipulate what Americans are allowed to see. This is just another perfect example of how ignorance can lead to massive consequences. Many people, including myself before this class, are not aware of the extent that we are being controlled and babysat by people that have no authority or permission to do so. The media doesn’t cover it, because they are all a part of the master plan and therefore they actually benefit from the lack of knowledge. Is there anything we can do to stop it or will we eventually be controlled as much as other nations that we deem oppressed dictatorships?  

Legal Insurrection

http://legalinsurrection.com/

Having William Jacobson in class the other day was really informative and interesting. He, like many bloggers, began by pointing out the bias of the mainstream media in their coverage of the 2oo8 presidential election. Jacobson was discomforted by the lack of coverage on conservative candidates, and took it upon himself to fill in that gap. His webpage, Legal Insurrection, still strives to give the conservative perspective on issues.

Beginning a blog is only the first hurdle of handling a website. To get a larger audience, Jacobson would write for other webpages and link them back to his site. He would also contact other bloggers by email, and request recognition from larger pages. With this strategy LI gained one million viewers in 11 months.

Soon, Jacobson realized that in order to update his content enough, he would need the assistance of other writers. He recruited a student, and then hired some free-lance online contributors to make his site more active. Within a few months, with the revenue from ads, he and his staff were putting out a $5,000 dollar website.

The ads are provided by a supplier based on keywords in the stories. This can become interesting when positive liberal candidates and ideas pop up on the page, because they are mentioned negatively in a few articles. However, they don’t solely rely on ad revenue for their page. They also conduct fundraisers and provide a donate button so that their fans can fund the site.

This blog like others has more freedom with their content, which allows them to take the time to do investigative stories, and cover things that the mainstream cannot. Jacobson specifically mentioned their coverage of Elizabeth Warren, the Treyvon Martin case and elections that they could cover hour by hour instead of other topics. However, while they can cover these topics more thoroughly, they also have a more difficult time getting access and interviews. This is interesting, because even though they don’t have the ability to talk to primary sources they still put out information. I personally have issue with the accuracy and accountability that is lost when this happens.

I learned a lot chatting with Jacobson about his work, and it was an insightful look into how private blogs are set-up and run.

 

Turning a Hobby into a Job

http://images.businessweek.com/ss/07/07/0714_bloggers/index.htm

While most writers struggle to gain notoriety and make enough money to fuel their passion, others are fortunate enough to gather a following of other people that share their interests and fuel their passion simply by creating a blog. By exploiting a niche in the internet, they are able to turn their hobbies into their livelihood. 

This slideshow was interesting because it illustrates the difference that blogs have made in the lives of these individuals without them needing the assistance of a company or publisher. The authors of the blogs are 100 percent in control of the content of their blogs, but they still get to make money and share their thoughts with others. 

Most of the blogs were funded by advertising revenue. The blogs’ topics make it easy for advertisers to get an audience that would be more likely interested in their products, and therefore the space is in high demand. Its more productive to put a cat food ad on a blog about silly cats instead of on a random paper with an unknown audience.

I found this interesting, because most of these authors had no intention or premonition that this fame would come with their blogs. Simply by filling a hole in the internet, they are able to do what they love and make money doing it. 

 

Audience Funding

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/18/AR2006081800210_pf.html

When independent producers of films want to begin a new project they usually begin by asking banks and large donors. This method however can backfire quickly if enough funding isn’t provided or if the donors expect to have their opinions expressed in the film. When Jim Gilliam was asked to raise funds to produce a Greenwald film, instead of using this model, he branched out and decided that something a bit different would be more productive. 

Gilliam decided that instead of asking uninterested parties to donate to a cause they had no interest in, he could raise even more money by asking their fans to support their efforts. His innovation paid off, and eventually the film was completely donor funded. While some increments came in large quantities, most of the donations were between 20 and 100 dollhairs. 

This, contrary to popular belief, is not such a radical idea though. Many independent newspapers back in the day were not funded by their price or ad sales, but by their readers who wanted to know more about what the paper had to say. When the product has a need, and fills a niche in a community there will be sufficient interest to fund it. 

The role of independent media is to inform the masses about what is otherwise brushed under the rug. This funding model is so perfect for what independent media aims to do, because it puts VALUE on information that the mainstream media has deemed worthless. By letting fans choose what they want to support, independent is better tailored to their interests and needs.