Women's Health Base

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Posts Tagged ‘professional blogs’

Community Blogging – Overcoming Apathy

Posted by hannahflynn on November 11, 2008

As I have previously mentioned I began a community blog recently, but with little success. I had come face-to-face with the reader:lurker:contribution ratio. So it was with interest that I listened to Adam Tinworth’s views on the subject.

My own experience of community blogging has been as a regular reader (rather than contributor to) Feministing and Short Sharp Science. Two very different subject areas (!) and two different interpretations of the meaning of ‘community blog’.

Short Sharp Science started off as a series of specialist blogs on the New Scientist website, but recently became one ‘super-blog’. Its contributors are the same people who contribute to the magazine including its editors and reporters. Rather than being the place to report the harder science that the magazine takes care of it contains a lot of more human interest and political approaches to the subject matter. Short Sharp Science is a community, but it is a professional community and one of science journalists and not enthusiasts.

On the other hand, to contribute to Feministing all that is needed is to sign up and post. This could be considered a fairly dangerous approach to blogging but the site is extremely successful and its proprietor Jessica Valenti a successful journalist in her own right who works with her team of editors to moderate the blog. So how do they do it? Social networking of course! The site has branched out with a Facebook group, a YouTube page and a Meetup Alliance.

A good example of an open community blog that embraces a geographical rather than a subject area is Dublin Community Blog. All that is needed to contribute is a quick email to the administrator to put you on the list of authors. The blog contains what’s-on information and has also embraced traffic-driving sites such as Flickr.

So is the answer to a successful community blog an increase in traffic rather than enthusiasm? It would make sense looking at the reader and contributor ratios. Unless there is an RL equivalent, like with New Scientist’s Short Sharp Science, it is unlikely to attract traffic alone. However, it is important to question how the use of these UGC sites would be differ from straight news sites.


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Self-Publishing and the Rise of Aggregation

Posted by hannahflynn on November 3, 2008

 The major problem with UGC is not the blurring of lines between journalist and ‘user’. Instead it is the dotsam and websam we have to wade through to reach quality new sources.

Matthew Yeoman mentioned the two forms of aggregation he has been engaging with: private journalism and The Ag. While we have all been introduced to RSS feeds, Netvibes and YahooPipes Mashups in an attempt to source our news effectively, news aggregators with analysis are the lazy person’s option….and keeps the journalist very much in the frame.

One of the most sucessful news aggregators, The Daily Beast has a layout similar to most of the others. It has ‘Beast Originals’ offering independent opinion and analysis as well as links to the biggest current stories. My assertation that aggregators are the ‘lazy person’s’ option for sourcing news is exemplified in their ‘Cheat Sheet – Must Reads From All Over’.  

Hitwise UK published results last month that showed news aggregator use has increased dramatically recently. They are also responsible for 26 per cent of traffic sent to news and media sites. Googlenews, NewsNow and Stumble Upon make up the top three. Their definition of what an aggregator is was fairly loose, and included sites like Twitter. Perhaps a look at the direction of traffic to and from more traditional aggregation sites including Yahoo News and the Huffington Post would be revealing.

Its interesting that this rise has happened at the same time that blogging is declining. It is also interesting to note how similar some aggregators, especially specialist content aggregators, are to blogs. There is very little difference between The Ag and some of the broadsheet’s blogs. Gizmodo, a gadget website calls itself a weblog and has been referred to by others as a news aggregation site.  

OJR talked about news aggregators as a way of taking RSS to the masses back in 2005. He also points out that they are the answer to the time required to sift through vast amounts of niche news sites. As the most successful blogs have generally been the blogs associated with traditional news sources, aggregation could be seen as a mere extension of professional blogging, and one which journalists are very much in control of.

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