I subscribe to SmartMoney magazine, the dead tree version. Although I subscribe to and read several hundred blogs every day, I still find value in printed magazines, especially for reading while on an airplane (my Sony Reader can’t be used on takeoff and landing for instance). And I do find the “serendipity” factor discussed a few weeks ago in this space to be valuable as well.
Usually I find the magazine to be fairly insightful. But the “10 things” article in the current issue may be the dumbest one ever. The column generally exposes the dark underbelly of various products and services (see “10 things your florist won’t tell you” or “10 things your fitness club won’t tell you” — the two most recent ones). In this case, however, the writer targets bloggers.
Apart from the fact that bloggers don’t charge for people to read their content, the claims themselves are absurd. Although it may validate the story too much, I want to respond to each in turn.
1. “Hardly anybody reads me.” Incredulously, the article contains the following: “So what’s the norm? Google CEO Eric Schmidt told a recent gathering of U.K. politicians that the average blog has just one reader: the blogger.” If the whole point of the column is what you need to about a blogger, wouldn’t you only care if you were reading it? Therefore you would automatically double the audience. But more to the point, all content can have lots of readers or none. It’s just as true for magazine articles as it is for blogs.
2. “The more companies pay me, the more I like their stuff.” From the article: “Companies looking for ways to profit from the blogging phenomenon have tried everything from buying ad space on blogs to infiltrating discussion forums with hired PR shills.” Ah, advertising is the same as trolling? Gimme a break.
3. “Did I mention I’m not a real reporter?” The author of the piece, Daniel Cho, says that “more than one-third of bloggers consider their work a form of journalism.” I may not have been a math major, but doesn’t that mean that two-thirds of bloggers don’t consider themselves journalists? If I don’t claim to be a mathematician, should I make sure everyone knows that whenever I use numbers on my blog?
4. “I might infect your computer with a virus.” I’m really not making this up. This section reads like a 1980s “you might get AIDS from using a public toilet” argument. Cho writes “But blogs can contain malicious code just like any other site … Another tactic involves targeting innocent blogs and inserting malicious links into the reader comment section — one click and your computer could be infected.” Psst! Tell your bosses at SmartMoney because they have a web site and — are you sitting down? — they allow comments!
5. “I’m revealing company secrets.” This is one where there is the tiniest sliver of merit. Companies do need to have blogging policies so there are no misunderstandings about what it is OK to reveal about internal company matters online.
6. “Just because my name’s on it doesn’t mean I wrote it.” It’s possible Cho doesn’t realize ghost-writing is an entire industry. Is it better if the owner of a blog authors every word, sure. Is it atrocious if they have a ghost writer? No, though it probably won’t come across as well. Celebrities and prominent individuals frequently have others pen their words for their approval.
7. “My blog is just a stepping stone to bigger and better things.” Wow, bloggers have ambition! Stop the presses! Of course, I don’t imagine Daniel Cho wants to write “10 things” for the rest of his life and might actually like to see his title shortened from “Reporter-Researcher” to “Reporter.” But I’m sure he didn’t think of that when he wrote this article, which as it turns out appears to be his first piece in SmartMoney.
8. “I can control what you see on the Internet.” Yup, tinfoil hat time, folks. This part is all about Google search results. That would be Google, the search engine. Which as we all know bloggers control. (Just don’t tell Larry, Sergey or the aforementioned Eric.)
9. “Blogging just about ruined my life.” Do or say something stupid and it can matter later in life. But lots of things can do that.
10. “I’m already obsolete.” If blogging is done, why are you writing about it?
(via Jeff Jarvis)