Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Blurred boundaries

When does a blog become a part of MSM? Or how do you differentiate between a blog and news portal? My definition of a blog is this - A blog is a webpage maintained by a individual or a group solely to disperse information related to the interests of the blogger(s) without any supervision of any sort. The blogger is both the financier, contributor and the editor of the information propagated through the blog.

But today, I read of a "blog portal that will be funded by investor's money"(via Kaps), my thoughts raced to this same definition from above. The entrepreneur has been throwing around terms like "revenue model" and sources close to the venture say that companies like Pepsi and Motorola are going to be sponsors. So what makes this "blog portal" different from, say, a portal like the online edition of TOI? TOI has a revenue model as well and a number of different companies advertise on there as well. If charging anywhere between 50 paise and a rupee for every click on their ads would make this new venture a "blog portal", then what is the USP over any other blog that subscribes to Google's Adsense?

But what is even more glaring is the byline for the blog: .... is the foremost blog representing the thoughts, aspirations, feeling and experiences of Indian youth. Most of the content is written by those in the 16-25 age group, with professional editors mentoring them to ensure professional quality material.

While the emphasis in the above text is mine, I am starting to wonder where the concept of blogs ends and MSM begins? When a similar case (i.e., blurring of boundaries) happens with any other subject, that would be taken as a positive, i.e. an attempt to bridge a gap, but when blogs seem to be the perfect antithesis to MSM, this seems to be a "I too" (grammatical error totally intentional) attempt by whoever is behind this attempt. And this thought comes to mind solely because of the presence of "professional editors" in this exercise. If the focus is to mentor future journos, then a un-monitored blog would be a perfect way to set them on that path! But this attempt seems to be something else. Is this the attempt of a tech-illiterate businessman to earn some money without ever knowing what he is dealing with?


thennavan said...

I think you pretty much summed up in the last line what it is :-)

Shankari said...

Went there today. Apart from the issues you raised, (GLAD u did!) it was pretty sweet and unremarkable bunch of kids...

Kaps said...

icarus prakash commented on my blog that they have copied their reviews from others....and I realized this myself after following the links provided by Prakash.

and what the hell is a blog PORTAL?

anantha said...

Kaps: Beats me...!

Shankari: Thats my point. By supervising, wouldn't we curtail creativity?

Thennavan: Ya.. I am waiting to see how they are gonna continue.. so its a wait and watch. But I see a contradiction in their definitions and though this sounds like high a funda concept, I basically think that they are trying to reinvent the wheel, whether or not they know it..

Balaji said...

"I too" (grammatical error totally intentional) - what about the other typos(?) in the post? :) et tu anti?!

anantha said...

BB: Thanx thalaiva... one of the pitfalls of having a really bad dialup connection (even here) is that you sometimes don't get a chance to do everything u want to. Nethu connection was a pain...and hence this embarrassment!

Prerona said...

Hey Anti, sorry for such a big delay in replying to your comment on my gmail post - i just saw it!


listen, these links to the post page - you know how to make them conditional? that is, they should be there only if there is more (than the summary in the post page)

Balaji said...

thanx for taking that in the right spirit anti. yours is 1 of the blogs where the writing quality has been consistently high. so those typos kinda jumped out @ me :)

anantha said...

BB: Thanx :) The truth was out there. And in case, I know why it was caused :)

?! said...

"blogs seem to be the perfect antithesis to MSM" ...

MSM bashing is one of the topics that bloggers seem to relish. MSM is not necessarily the evil antiblog idea. Blogs are not necessarily rants of the obscure and unorganised.

MSM exists to provide a structured framework for dissemination of a general perception we call news. It funds it by advertising openly. And by covert ads called bias. Blogs dealing with news exist to point out a different or personal perception.

They are not on opposite sides of a moral or mental battlefield : they each occupy their own spaces. When Desipundit.com carries ads by Yahoo, is Yahoo funding the blog ? By several yardsticks, Yahoo can be defined as part of MSM. Does that mean Desipundit can no longer qualify to be part of the blogosphere ?

The gent is funding a blog. Paying people to write. Editing it. Its credibility would depend on content and perceived bias of the articles. If he'd kept shut and just put an ad for tech writers/content writers and started posting it, would it have been better ?

Just some random thoughts.

icarus prakash said...

random thoughts: MSM bashing is another thing. I admit that i dont subscribe to the views of most of the bloggers who indulge in bashing MSM. organized media and citizen's media ( read blogs) are two different animals and they can co-exist.

if a blog portal - whatever that means - gets funding, the historical event within quotes, WILL sure find a place in one of the supposedly leading business newspaper. So i personally dont have any comments the newsreport or it's editors.

But in this case, what amuses me is that the audacity with which, these so-called bloggers, get a domain name, register, cut and paste articles, get some dubiously sounding organization to fund, hire a PR man to plant news in MSM and finaly make us to write on them.

The only thing they chose to forget is that, google tool bar with a search tool is only few hundred kilobytes and is compatible with most of the browsers :-)

these kind of exploitations should be exposed.

anantha said...

?!: Understand where you are coming from. But this was not a anti-MSM rant. Not at all. This is a rant on "professional monitoring" of (what the site's owners/creaters describe) as "bloggers".

They are not on opposite sides of a moral or mental battlefield : they each occupy their own spaces.
Exactly. But I stand by my anti-thesis comment, because we have seen several cases where news-space has been sold and self-propagatory articles inserted in exchange for cash. So the boundaries bettween "advertisements" and news has blurred. And since most of people have been getting their news through the MSM, they have to put up with these so-called news articles that they don't need. But they do read them.
You might say that blogs are another form of advertisements, but atleast the consumer/reader has a choice. Several reasons - he/she does not pay for it and also a blog post is usually on one subject. And if that subject is not what the reader looks for, he might just close the window and get out.
DP carries ads from Yahoo, but Yahoo does not have any editorial control over DP. So unless Patrix and Co. hand over editorial control to the highest bidder who will impose editorial control, DP is and shall remain a blog.
So my definitions are this (am borrowing your words here)
The gent is funding a blog. Paying people to write. Editing it - MSM
The gent is funding a blog. Paying people to write and edit their own posts. - Blog

?! said...

Anti, this is getting semantic.

The people are CHOOSING to get their posts edited. If I pay an editor to edit, say, some poetry that I post, does it stop being MY post ? Some writing networks have paid/unpaid editorial help. Remains the author's work.They have the choice to get out if they don't like the revised version, right ? They stay, ergo it is their post.

Paying for a newspaper is not funding it. ( By a LONG shot. The price one pays for a paper wouldna get you the same quantity of white paper in Mumbai).Ads fund a paper. As far as choice is concerned, the consumer has a variety of newspapers to choose from. Blog post :(maybe) one subject. Blog : several posts. Newspaper article : (maybe) one subject. Several articles == a paper. Don't like an article, shut the page.
You pay directly to read a paper; you pay indirectly in terms of Cable TV charges to see BBC or Sun TV or Gemini.You do pay for reading a blog in terms of net access, just more indirectly.

Lotsa ads masqueradng as news.
Enough fakes masquerading as blog posts: IIPM's fake support network is a case in point.

Every media has an agenda. One's maybe overtly moneymaking. Other's might be more subtle money-oriented. Yet another's might be furtherance of a social/political point of view.

The point is, blogs == mostly unorganised media. MSM == organised biz model. Just as lack of organization is no guarantee of zero bias, an organized biz model is not necessarily slanted.

Since we rely on the media for news, we simply rely on our gut feel for perceived bias and try to read a few more sources to get a better picture.

Basically, I don't believe that blogs are an antithesis to MSM. They are two independent entities.

anantha said...

?!: The people are CHOOSING to get their posts edited.
I guess its the other way around. They are being chosen to get their posts edited.
If I pay an editor to edit, say, some poetry that I post, does it stop being MY post.
In that case it does not, since you have the option of accepting your editor's work. But if he is paying you, he's the final authority. Do you see the difference? I don't have anything to go against the your other points, well except your last statement. :)

?! said...


Where i am ranting, finding not so good similarities between MSM and blogs.

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