Blogs Falling In An Empty Forest

16 Apr

Perfect headline for a final post, don’t you think?

It’s also the headline of an old NYT piece about the dismal failure rate of blogs–about 95 percent, as of 2009. I’m the author of two abandoned blogs now, so that statistic hardly surprises me.

And yet, I’m about to launch another blog (!!!) Possibly two. One for strictly professional and self-promotional purposes. The other for reasons entirely personal…

Because most blogs have an audience of exactly one–a truism I intend to embrace with my next blogging venture. The highly personal one anyway, which will be another tumbleweed in the wastelands of the Internet, alongside all of the other unfulfilled hopes and unsolicited opinions. And I’m OK with that.  I’ll have plenty of company, at least. Maybe I’ll post the link to my new blog here. Maybe not. We’ll see…

[Photo courtesy of Flickr user slimmer_jimmer]

Why the “Bloggers vs. Journalists” Debate Is Silly

30 May

As a blogger and journalist-in-training, I have always found the Will Bloggers Replace Journalism? debate irksome and misguided.

Show me these mythical bloggers — typing feverishly in their parents’ basements, still in pajamas, presumably — who are plotting the overthrow of journalism. Good luck finding them, because the only ones debating that question are either old-media journalists anxious about losing their monopoly or outsiders who understand neither blogging nor journalism.

Earlier this year, a survey conducted by PR Week and PR Newswire found that 52 percent of bloggers consider themselves journalists — cue the snorts and tongue clucking.

But there’s a substantial overlap between bloggers and journalists: 35 percent of bloggers are/were professional journalists, according to a 2009 study by Technorati.

Here are some other stats to consider, found via Marketing Pilgrim:

  • Over 75% of reporters see blogs as helpful in giving them story ideas, story angles and insight into the tone of an issue.
  • 70% of reporters check a blog list on a regular basis.
  • 21% of reporters spend over an hour per day reading blogs.
  • 57% of reporters read blogs at least two to three times a week.

That same survey, conducted among working reporters and editors, found that 30 percent of those surveyed have their own blog.

Their figures back up those of Technorati, which also had this to add: Continue reading

Some Empathy for Empathy-Deficient “Generation Me”

29 May

Generation Me: Now with 40 percent less empathy.

According to a new study, today’s college students are less likely than their counterparts of 20 and 30 years ago to agree with statements such as: “I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective” and “I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me.”

“Many people see the current group of college students — sometimes called ‘Generation Me‘ — as one of the most self-centered, narcissistic, competitive, confident and individualistic in recent history” — Researcher Sara Konrath to

Being overly confident, self-centered, full of entitlement, annoying in general — it’s called being young. Young people have been making those mistakes since the beginning of time. If today’s students lag behind their counterparts, perhaps it’s because youth itself has been prolonged — the average 25 year old from 1979, for example, probably had far more adult responsibilities than the 25 year old of today. And it’s not all their (or their parents’) fault: the job market and the slashing of employee benefits like healthcare play a large role.

As for empathy, some are highly empathic from birth; but most need some hard knocks from life before their puny, feeble Grinch-sized hearts can grow.

I picked up this little gem on YouTube, via a great RSA Animate illustration of the words of Jeremy Rifkin: Continue reading

How My Blog Got Noticed and Promoted by a Super Influencer

28 May

Today I found this post via @copyblogger: How to Get Your Blog Noticed and Promoted by Super Influencers.

That’s exactly what happened to me two days ago, with my prior blog post — but without even trying.

From Pushing Social’s aforementioned post:

“I’ve discovered that the top thought leaders on the web will bend over backwards to help a true fan.”

Very true, that. My top thought leader — one of the top 140 influencers on Twitter — somehow found my post almost immediately after I posted (Google Alerts, perhaps?). He used his Twitter platform to promote my post, called it “clever” even (my self-esteem is going to get a lot of mileage from that, for years to come). How did I find out? I noticed a sudden spike in traffic of rocket-launch proportions — a 1300% increase — which prompted me to investigate. And for one shining moment, I felt like an old-Hollywood starlet discovered at some lunch counter — plucked from obscurity, as it were.

But sic transit gloria — the glory fades. Still, I did pick up some Twitter followers. And I enjoyed  basking in the reflected starlight, however brief.

In the end, though, it’s still the quality of the content that reigns supreme: If I don’t build it, they won’t come (back). So… it’s back to work for me.

[How to Get Your Blog Noticed and Promoted by Super Influencers]

Celebrity Deathmatch, Journo-Nerd Edition

26 May

Last night, I attended a lecture entitled “The Death and Life of American Journalism,” given by Robert W. McChesney. Twenty minutes in, this much was clear: this guy understands the “death” part rather well; the “life” part, not so much.

If only Jay Rosen were here — that’s what I kept thinking as I fidgeted and waited for the Q & A portion to start. McChesney’s condescension toward citizen journalism, bloggers, Twitter — basically anything new or revolutionary beyond his ken — was great at eliciting clucks and gasps from the scores of elderly ladies present. But I found it infuriating, and deserving of a Rosen-style smackdown.

I got no such satisfaction. Not in real life. So I’m creating it here, by pitting some of Rosen’s ideas against McChesney’s. Here’s the match-up:

In this corner, we have Robert McChesney, professor of communication at the University of Illinois, host of the weekly radio talk show “Media Matters,” cofounder of the media reform organization Free Press, and author of 16 books on media and politics.

In the other corner, we have Jay Rosen, professor of journalism at New York University, press critic, writer and one of the top 140 influencers on Twitter.

Continue reading

How to win affection on Twitter

22 May

Today I went through the list of Tweeps I follow, weeding out a few here and there. It got me thinking about why I like the tweeple I like, how those tweeple pull it off. The ones who do it best, and thus have the most influence, do it through some combination of the following:

  1. Be generous. Retweet. Participate in Follow Friday (#FF). Make Twitter lists that others can appreciate. Use the Twitter platform to do some good when you can. For example, by helping people locate answers, or promote a worthy cause, or find a transplant donor for their dying 4 year old child, etc. Show you can be a mensch. Think about it: In whom would you rather invest your limited resources (such as attention)? The generous person who may one day be of service to you, or the person who seems to ask only, “What’s in it for me?”
  2. Show some emotion. Don’t be a Stepford Tweeter. Don’t be afraid to show enthusiasm, or passion, or strong opinions. I don’t mean be emotional — there’s a difference. Words express emotion (such as “wow,” “great,” “sucks,” when used sparingly). So do @jayrosen_nyu and @jeffjarvis, for example, but I’d never describe them as emotional.
  3. Be unique. The easiest way? Allow snippets of your personality to peek through, where appropriate. Otherwise, you’ll just fade into the Twitterverse. But always remember to retain some mystique. Because an unknown property is inherently more interesting, and I’m always going to want it (you) more.
  4. Be smart. Don’t underestimate the intelligence of your audience. Copyblogger crunched some data and found that smarter headlines actually get retweeted more often than those that are dumbed down. As David Foster Wallace once said, the best writers remind a reader of just how smart he/she really is.
  5. Make me laugh. Or at least display, on occasion, a well-developed sense of humor. Two Tweeters who do this well (for journo nerds like me, anyway): @FakeAPStylebook and @OHnewsroom
  6. Show discerning taste. Prove that you have good editorial taste and judgment. In order to do that, you need to…
  7. Include links. Be useful. Point me toward something new. Be a link in the chain, not a dead-end alley.

Social Networks Have Become “Social Entertainment,” Study Claims

20 May

All the world’s a stage, and we its (unpaid) Reality Stars.

The Internet, as a source of entertainment, is now second only to television, according to a new study by Edelman, the world’s largest independent public relations firm.

Peruse a site like Openbook, and you’ll see: Facebook is an embarrassment of riches, and crawling with oversharing “reality stars” who entertain with their bad behavior. On the Facebook show, characters cheat, visit strip clubs, tell you when they’re “having a wank,” share the results of their rectal exams, et cetera and ad nauseam.

There’s a reason producers love reality shows: they’re cheap to produce and have high profit margins. The Facebook show is even cheaper to produce — nobody gets paid. Except Zuckerberg et al., that is.

[News Unfiltered: Study Reveals Shift as Social Networks Become ‘Social Entertainment’]