The Significance of Online Journalism: The Magic of Blogging

Posted on July 6, 2011

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by Minji Lee

With the magic of the web, now anyone with an opinion can be a writer. The authority that newspaper journalists had and the power governments wielded on the media, in part, have been subverted. As often as not, non-professional writers are getting more attention than the professional ones on the internet. The range of people who write have enormously widened, and so did the range of people who read. The web connects people all around the globe, allowing them to access an interminable stream of information. This mutual relationship between writers and viewers makes it possible for blogging, one of the most inventive and resourceful online communication methods, to survive.

A blog is a website where individuals or groups can publish a running log of events, personal insights or other content which appears in reverse date order on the site.[1] Justin Hall, an intern at Wired magazine and a student at Swarthmore College, did what we now call “blogging” for the first time in 1994[2], and Jorn Barger later coined the term “weblog” on 17 December 1997.[3] On a blog, the main author’s ‘article’ or post is given priority weighting through layout, design and text formatting – others may add their comments to the main post but those comments will be seen as subsidiary to the main item.[4] In 2007, a survey by Universal McCann reported 170 million blogs worldwide with a global readership of 340 million people.

For the past years, blog has played the leading role in the history of online journalism. Blog is like a local cafeteria where people gather and talk about their lives with their friends, giving and receiving knowledge on travel, cosmetics, restaurants, fashion, music, etc. It is very accessible and inexpensive, but you get tons of information on every aspect of our lives. As an online communication method, blog extends the scope of people we can share information with, from our close friends to people around the world. Now, with just one mouse click, we can find people who have things in common with us, who have the information we have been looking for, or to whom we can talk about our interests as many as possible.

In the world of blogging, people working in any field can be a competent writer. For example, even if you are not a full-time professional gourmet, you are still able to give the information on food to people. Kathy YL Chan,[5] a Chinese-American realtor who works for Prudential Douglas Elliman in New York City, provides us with in-depth knowledge on deserts and restaurants mainly in Manhattan and Hawaii (which is her hometown) on her blog called A Passion For Food. Her photos of the restaurants and the food as if they were taken by a professional photographer.

Not only that, Chan also openly writes about her daily lives. If she became interested in the world of tea, she would introduce what kind of tea she likes and thinks good. If she shopped, she would tell you what kinds of shoes or bags she shopped and which place is good to hang out on Saturday, and just talks about how her day was. It is as if you have a really cool friend who tells you all the juicy information worth learning. The readers might seem voyeuristic, but there is something special and fun about visiting blogs like Chan’s. In other words, on a blog, you get whole another kind of pleasure that you cannot find reading traditional newspaper articles.

▲Kathy YL Chan’s blog.

An average Korean housewife nicknamed Rose[6] has more than 1,000 recipes for deserts, snacks, and Japanese, Chinese, Western, and Korean cuisines on her blog called Rose World. For each recipe, she carefully took photos of the cooking process for readers to understand more easily. Also, she will answer all the questions you may have had hassling in the kitchen. She may not be a culinary school graduate, but because of her know-how and real-life way of cooking, and her kindness to answer all the trivial questions that people send to her via online message, readers would rather prefer going to her blog than buying an impractical cookbook written by a chef who worked at a Michelin star restaurant. Blog gave her unlimited opportunities to fully express her own knowledge of cooking, and all the housewives around the world – who had trouble juggling in the kitchen – the succulent details they wanted.

▲ Rose World.

Across The Sea’s blog.

A Korean corporate worker nicknamed Across The Sea,[7] who has lived in Los Angeles, California, for 15 years, offers profound knowledge on travel and restaurants in the US with spectacular photography. He has a profession completely unrelated to travel and restaurant businesses. He says he simply enjoys sharing information on traveling and great places or restaurants worth checking out in the West with perspective tourists around the world.

Eugene Kim,[8] a Korean-American investment banker, utilizes blogging to share his passion for gastronomy with people. Because of his enthusiasm for gastronomy, he became one of the six judges in South Korea’s panel for “The S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants.” On his blog called Gourmet Circle, he introduces luxurious meals in the fanciest hotels in Hong Kong, Singapore, New York, Seoul, and Europe. When you see his blog, it is almost impossible to believe that all those latest news of restaurants and the authentic gastronomic knowledge come from an investment banker with no professional culinary education. Just as Across The Sea, Kim said he basically wanted to share his interests in gastronomy with other people.

 

▲ Gourmet Circle.

The level of photography and the depth of the information these bloggers offer are too sophisticated to be gratuitous. No one forced them to do blogging. No one paid them to do that. They just enjoy sharing their interests and knowledge with other people. And as a bonus, we get to be given this huge pool of information and search for whatever we want. This would probably be the main strength that blogging has: people’s genuine joy and happiness of sharing information created this magnificent online community in which anyone – regardless of their profession, gender, age, nationality, or ethnicity – can be a successful journalist with thousands of readers. Even though it is not an official publication, you can make a good use of your knowledge and knack for things you like and earn satisfaction out of sharing them with people around the globe.

Apart from millions of food and travel blogs that exist in the online community, there are still many kinds of blogs to talk about. For example, the New York Social Diary, created by David Patrick Columbia, is a gossip blog with vivid reports of the socialites, charity events, weddings, parties, and the art world in New York City[9]. With Columbia’s fourteen years of experience as a society journalist, the blog provides lively news of New York’s high society to people around the world.

The TsunamiHelp blog, created by India-based bloggers Peter Griffin, Rohit Gupta and Dina Mehta after a 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit the Indian Ocean on 26 December 2004, shows how blog can be a helpful to the global society. The blog posted information about the relief effort, agencies to contact for information and to offer help, reports from the scene from eyewitnesses, and links to media coverage of the disaster – all gleaned from a variety of information sources via e-mail and text messages sent to them from volunteers.[10]

Blogging has also reshaped the political landscape around the world.[11] According to Wikipedia, a significant instance of political blogs influencing politics occurred during the 2006 Virginia Senate campaign. In that campaign, S. R. Sidarth, who is Indian-American and was acting as a “tracker” for challenger Jim Webb’s senate campaign, was sent to video record incumbent republican Senator George Allen during campaign stops. During one such campaign stop, Sadith recorded Senator Allen calling him a “macaca”. The term refers to a species of monkey, and is regarded by some as an ethnic slur. The video was posted on the popular video-sharing site YouTube. The story was picked up by local media, and then by national media, due to heavy attention by blogs such as the liberal blog Daily Kos. The media attention has been widely cited as a key reason why Senator Allen was defeated by now-Senator Jim Webb. One consequence of the macaca event was to end Senator Allen’s presidential ambitions. In addition, the defeat of Senator Allen was enough to give senate democrats a one-vote senate majority when the 110th Congressional term began. The examples of political blogs other than Daily Kos include Wonkette, Talking Points Memo, Michelle Malkin, Digby’s Hullabaloo, and Hot Air.

The realm of blogging has grown tremendously in the past few years. Blogging, with its many benefits as a tool of online journalism, has affected not only the social and political aspects of the world, but also our personal lives. Blog has facilitated the fast flow of information and made journalism more accessible than ever. Although some dangerous consequences may ensue (as all other online journalism methods have faced unexpected challenges throughout their expansion,) it is certain that blogging brought drastic evolution to online journalism.


[1] Silvia Cambié and Yang-May Ooi, International Communications Strategy (Kogan Page, 2009) 105

[2] Silvia Cambié and Yang-May Ooi, International Communications Strategy (Kogan Page, 2009) 104

Hall set the tone for what most people think blogging is all about by writing about his alcoholic father and his sexual relationships with different partners on his sit, Link.net, and is credited by the New York Times Magazine as ‘the founding father of personal blogging.’

[3] “Blog,” Wikipedia.com

According to Wikipedia, the short form, “blog,” was coined by Peter Merholz, who jokingly broke the word weblog into the phrase we blog in the sidebar of his blog Peterme.com in April or May 1999. Shortly thereafter, Evan Williams at Pyra Labs used “blog” as both a noun and verb (“to blog,” meaning “to edit one’s weblog or to post to one’s weblog”) and devised the term “blogger” in connection with Pyra Labs’ Blogger product, leading to the popularization of the terms.

[4] Silvia Cambié and Yang-May Ooi, International Communications Strategy (Kogan Page, 2009) 105

[5] http://www.apassionforfood.net/

Chan is an NYU Stern graduate. She recently launched Kathy YL Chan, Inc., a culinary marketing and sales business. She also writes for Serious Eats on a regular basis.

[6] http://blog.naver.com/julie7000

She currently lives in New Jersey with her daughter and husband. Around 20,000 people visit her blog every day. The blog has been approved to be a Powerblog since 2008 by Naver.

[7] http://blog.naver.com/xcreative

As his food blogging came to a big success, he now calls himself “freelance TV coordinator, travel journalist, and consultant.” He is currently writing a book on traveling in the US. The blog has been approved to be a Powerblog since 2009 by Naver.

[8] http://blog.naver.com/kosmose7

He now has over 2,800 posts on his blog about the sumptuous meals he had. He pays all those meals by himself. The blog has been approved to be a Powerblog since 2008 by Naver.

[10] Silvia Cambié and Yang-May Ooi, International Communications Strategy (Kogan Page, 2009) 160-1

The TsunamiHelp blog gave people the opportunity to help in a concrete way, even though some may have been at a distance from the scenes of disaster. People could find out information and send it to the blog – links to media reports or blogs, contact information for aid agencies, anything that would be of help. The TsunamiHelp blog is a prime example of people coming together spontaneously and self-organizing into an effective force across physical and national boundaries via the social media landscape. Jane Perrone, writing in The Guardian, comments ‘Perhaps most importantly of all, the TsunamiHelp blog has left a lasting legacy. The model of communication it forged has set the standard for web coverage of subsequent disasters, including Hurricane Katrina and the Pakistan earthquake, and many of the TsunamiHelp bloggers have used their expertise to launch similar projects on other disasters. And NGOs and academics are interested in using the TsunamiHelp model as a template for communication during future disasters.

[11] According to Wikipedia, Political blogs have also had drastic implications on political leaders themselves. Some political leaders have greatly benefited from broad audience base the internet provides.[who?] One such example is Howard Dean of Vermont, who raised unprecedented campaign funds via the internet through the use of grassroots blogs and his own website.[citation needed] On the contrary, some politicians have greatly suffered due to the increased exposure political blogs provide. Former United States President George Bush was frequently followed by blog sites online. In other cases, political blogs can serve as comic relief and are seemingly harmless to government officials.

Bloggers have also taken it upon themselves to promote and help finance candidates whom they believe are not being properly supported by the party establishment. Such support from bloggers was cited as a critical factor in the surprise victory of Massachusetts U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown in the 2010 special election. Bloggers in the Brown race promoted a moneybomb which raised over $10 million for the candidate

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