Posts from February 28, 2005

To the barricades, bloggers — yet again

To the barricades, bloggers — yet again

: The Global Voices blog reports that Jeff Ooi, the pioneering (and charming) Maylasian blogger, was taken in for questioning regarding a blog post. This is the dark side of blogs getting attention in the wrong countries.



: I’m scheduled to do two blogcasts from Buzzmachine World Headquarters on MSNBC’s Connected between 5 and 6p ET — one on winds of change in the Middle East as soon through blogs there, the other a blog round-up, including the Oscars.

Here are the links I talked about (since some didn’t show up on the screen and I blew a few). My notes for the segments:

Egypt: Links here.


This is moving fast and we’re seeing comment and coverage from Lebanon. This is being called the “Cedar Revolution” (after the velvet and orange revolutions).

Across the Bay says:

“The popular pressure has managed to topple a cabinet without a single act of violence or bloodshed. It’s a proud moment for the Lebanese people.”

Cave Man in Beirut says:

“The government has fallen. And now the fun begins.”

bahrain1.jpgBahrain: Links here.

(Note the new pictures up at Chan’ad Bahraini; these are brave souls.)

Hillary Clinton:

Daniel Owen at Oval Office 2008 says:

Joe Biden… says of Hillary, “she is … the elephant in the living room. She’s the big deal.” “I don’t know how you beat her for the Democratic nomination,” added former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey, “she’s a rock star.”

Oscars left and right:

Even the reviews of the show are turning into a red-state-v.-blue-state shtick.

Jeralyn Meritt at complaints that Robin Williams efforts to sing a song making fun of censorship was censored so much that he had to kill it.

But over at the conservative blogs….

LaShawn Barber at complains:

“What happened to class and civility? Chris Rock said,

Who’s afraid of the big, bad blogger

Who’s afraid of the big, bad blogger

: Marketwatch’s Jon Friedman writes today that he’s afraid of bloggers. Not shivering in his boots but fearful nonetheless about all the usual qualms: are we journalists, are we trustworthy, etc., etc.

Let me try to put your mind at ease, Jon. Stop thinking of us as bloggers. Think of us as plain people — readers, men-on-the-street, sources — who happen to blog. That’s all we really are: the people. And the people know stuff. So it’s good you now have a way to find out what we know. If you use it wisely, it will improve your reporting because you’ll know more and then your readers will know more and then we’ll all hug and light our Bics and sing.

By the way, for anyone coming here from Jon’s column, there’s an error in it: It says that Bill Keller of The Times has asked his editors to get together with bloggers to talk about all this. I’m the one who asked that, not Bill. But you can read our email exchange here.

To the barricades, bloggers (again)

To the barricades, bloggers (again)

: Middle-Eastern regimes are discovering blogs… and jailing bloggers. Two are in jail in Iran (and one is in exile). Now a Bahraini blogger has been arrested for what he wrote on his blog. His “crimes:”

1. Defaming the royalty

2. Inciting hatred towards the regime

3. Publishing news to destabilize security (“تزعزع الأمن”)

4. Violating the Press Laws

5. Violating the Communication Laws

Much more on the case here. The arrested blogger’s site is here.

The Oscars we didn’t see

The Oscars we didn’t see

: Chris Rock acted like he was visiting his grandmother. He couldn’t be him. He had to worry about obnoxious prigs like Sean Penn giving him crap for a Jude Law joke. Jeesh.

: On Howard this morning, Artie Lang said a pal of his wrote a joke for Rock that Rock was too nervous to use. The introduction of Halle Berry he should have made: “Our next presenter has lost more men than the Iraqi army.”

: And getaloada of the fracas over the producers’ efforts to edit a ditty that Robin Williams was going to sing [via TalkLeft]:

Overnight, Mr. Shaiman and his partner, Scott Wittman, dashed off a mock expos

Yes, she’s excited about journalism

Yes, she’s excited about journalism

: More than a year ago, the teen Iranian-American blogger at Blue Bird Escape returned to her homeland and wrote about it in her blog in a series of truly remarkable posts that showed without varnish her reaction to the life of women — the life that would have been hers — in Iran. I linked to her frequently then for I was wowed by her talent, insight, and honesty. When her brother, an Iranian journalist, came to the U.S. on vacation from Europe, he arranged for us to meet: him, his blogging sister, and their parents, for a delightful lunch. I said then that I hoped she would chose to write; there’s no doubt she has the voice.

Today, I wandered back to her blog and found this:

USA Today is an amazing place. It’s where everything happens, the news you see on television happens right in front of you. Our journalism staff got to visit it today, including me. I can’t explain the rush of excitement I felt as I walked around. Looking at reporters’ desks that were piled up with paper and their computers ready for their stories made me want to sit and start working right away. I’ve had the dream of being a journalist for a long time. It just sounds like such an exciting and thrilling job. I feel like I’ve accomplished something just by knowing what I want to be.

It makes me happy that she’s considering writing. It also makes me happy that such a smart and talented young person is considering journalism, is excited about journalism. At a time when we ink-pixel-stained wretches are getting considerable grief on both content and business sides, it’s a relief to see that the future of the trade will be in good hands. And her advantage: By the time she gets into the business, she’ll already have been writing for a public for years.

What’s really changing the news biz

What’s really changing the news biz

: Citizens’ media isn’t changing the news business nearly as much as business is changing the news business.

Craig Newmark of Craigslist has been touting the potential of local citizens’ media — as do I — and he has been taunting us with hints of content plans — I can’t wait to hear what’s on his mind. But it seems he has felt a twinge of caution about this as he said:

Hey, there’s a lot of furor now around the emerging area of citizens’ journalism, where ordinary citizens complement the work of professionals and maybe go beyond.

That’s a big topic, best discussed elsewhere.

I just want to remind everyone that people’s jobs are involved, writers, editors, delivery people, PR people, and more.

When an industry goes through a major shift, sometimes people lose jobs.

I don’t have anything smart to suggest, except that news professionals starting looking hard at the blogging phenomenon, and try to get ready.

But Craig himself is having more impact on jobs in the news business than any blog phenom. I’ve said this to him over dinner.

In one oft-quoted study, CraigsList eliminated $65 million in newspaper classified revenue in one market alone: San Francisco. He didn’t shift it from the papers to his pocket. He destroyed it, burned it up — gone — as consumers got a new deal. I say that with no judgment: Let the market decide. And, in fact, I’ve also said — and said to Craig — that I believe he and Monster and company are only waystations to a different future, a distributed future when these buyers and sellers won’t need to come to a centralized marketplace but, instead, will sit out there, anywhere, on the internet waiting to be found by some specialized successors to Google that put them together (with, perhaps, no revenue at all). See this chart on Craigslist showing pageviews of the major job sites and know that there’s another colored line — called distributed — that hasn’t even shown up yet.


Now add to this the factors we know: declining print circulation… increasing competition from the internet and from new, free print products… declining viewership of network news…

I gave my blogboy presentation to a bunch of strategic guys at a certain major mass media company (not my employer’s) the other day and said that the mass market was dead, to be replaced by the mass of niches, and the young MBAs in the room screeched as if I’d goosed them. Fine, I said, imagine that things won’t change and others will come along and eat you up bit by bit. You’ll still be there, but you’ll have new competitors and your growth will be gone.

The business of news is changing and anyone with an ounce of sense knows that. And many in the business fret about how we are going to be able to support quality journalism; it’s a real worry.

But — now, at long last, here’s my point — citizens’ media and other innovations may not be the threat but one of the solutions:

1. You’ve heard me say before that citizens’ media may be a new source of news, information, and viewpoints that established media cannot afford to gather on their own. That’s the idea behind hyperlocal citizens’ media. And the hope behind it is that it opens up a new opportunities to attrack new audiences and advertisers. This doesn’t replace existing jobs; it expands existing coverage and, if it works, helps support existing operations — though that’s all still quite unproven.

2. Online provides a means of diversification for big media. That’s what the Marketwatch deal meant for Dow Jones: a way to get more ad-supported traffic and less-expensive content and audience. That’s what the deal means for The New York Times: a way to get search and cost-per-click advertising that is going, instead, to Google now and a way to expand into distributed networks of niche content. If these deals work, they, too, help support existing operations.

3. Citizens’ media and online tools show the way to much, much cheaper content creation. Note my silly blogcasts for MSNBC last week: a $100 camera and a $40/month internet connection and I was broadcasting to the world. Video, audio, and text tools show how to create content at a far lower cost. This does, indeed, affect jobs — but restructuring has come to every other industry, why not content? If we put less money into commodity content and into production hoo-has that don’t really matter, then we can maintain budgets to build unique and valuable content.

At the same time, all the new competitors of online do what new competion always does: wake up the old, established players and enliven the good ones and kill the bad ones. That, too is good.

The news business is unquestionably changing. But it’s not necessarily for the worse. There are more news outlets; I believe that in aggregate, people will consume news more; and there are new efficiencies and new opportunities. It may not be an easy road to get there, that’s all.