As a relative newcomer to blogging I’m fascinated by people’s reactions to it. I must admit, it took me a long time to get my head around it. But as each day goes by I begin to understand its power and wonderful unpredictability.
As a journalist with nearly 20 years experience, I can fully understand why so many people – particularly those in the ‘industry’ – are so scared by its presence. The blog is the Princess Di of journalism – alluring, compelling but something of a loose cannon. Its unpredictability is legendary and attempts by large corporations to manipulate bloggers’ opinions have backfired spectacularly.
But it’s not just the big corporations who are scared of blogs – so are journalists. If you want proof of this take a look at the latest report on beauty blogging on WGSN, the world’s leading fashion and style forecaster (and a company with its own excellent blogs). In it, the beauty editor of the Telegraph Magazine expresses a somewhat lofty dismay at the current raft of beauty blogs saying: “Those who set up blogs and say what they do and don’t like have no authority. I find that, in the main, the information they provide isn’t helpful to the consumer.” The article goes on to say that she sees blogging as an excuse to set up a platform to talk about yourself.
Now, I don’t know the beauty editor in question personally so have absolutely no axe to grind here but frankly I have yet to meet a journalist who doesn’t want to talk about themselves – especially that particular breed of hack who prefers the more gentrified moniker of ‘columnist’. And I very much suspect that when she talks about bloggers lacking authority she is referring to Joe public rather than the increasing number of her established colleagues in the beauty and grooming industry who now have blogs. But if she is referring to the scores of amateur writers out there who like to give their honest appraisal of a new product so what? Who says that an ordinary punter’s review of an eye cream or aftershave balm is any less valid just because they’re not a journalist (and often one cajoled with lavish press gifts and with powerful advertisers to placate)?
As a fellow hack myself I totally understand her apprehension about the format (it has the potential to change the nature of journalism forever) but to ignore or dismiss blogging it is to deny, Canute-style, its increasing influence in the industry. I’m sorry, but blogging is here. Get used to it.