Carnival Of Blog Coverage

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Carnival #7: The World Wide Blog

Much of the mainstream media's coverage of blogs tends to focus on America, but there is so much more to the blogosphere than that, as the coverage of the past couple of weeks indicates. Unfortunately, the news has not always been good.

The story that attracted the most attention was the arrest of Egyptian blogger Alaa Abd El-Fatah. He was nabbed as part of a sit-in. Bloggers are among those pushing for democracy in Europe, and the arrest sparked concern in their the community.

Such arrests may explain why bloggers in nearby Saudi Arabia are wary of a new official blogging community. Instapundit Glenn Reynolds provided more information at MSNBC and also in his column at TCS Daily. And Alaa kept right on blogging from jail.

Blogging is just as unwelcome in others pockets of the world, according to a report released by Reporters Without Borders for World Press Freedom Day, which was May 3. VNU Network published a story on the report.

In Singapore, the Elections Department recently issued a reminder about a ban on political blogs and podcasts. China also is targeting "unhealthy" blog postings, even as its blogosphere is booming. The boom is substantial enough that copyright protection has become an issue of concern to some commercial blogs.

Despite the restrictions on blogs in Asian countries, citizen journalism appears to be increasingly popular there. Citizen journalism also is making strides, albeit slowly, in Europe.

Also on more positive notes, Taiwan has a few "blawgmakers," or lawmakers who blog, and blogs are so popular in the rest of the world that English actually is a second language in the blogosphere.

Here's more coverage about blogs from the past couple of weeks:

Government and politics
-- "Network neutrality" has become a hot-button issue for bloggers in recent days. The term describes a legislative effort to keep dominant Internet providers from charging higher rates to some customers for high-speed Web access.

My latest column at Beltway Blogroll addressed the ongoing blog swarm on the issue. I also posted an interview with Craig Aaron of the Save the Internet coalition, as well as blog entries on the apparent conflict between a free market and free Internet and on net neutrality as campaign issue.

The Washington Post published a piece on how some bloggers are attacking former White House press secretary Mike McCurry. The Digital Divide Network also blogged about net neutrality.

-- Word that the National Security Agency has been collecting the telephone records of millions of Americans prompted a rush of commentary in the blogosphere -- enough of it that the mainstream media took notice.

-- An employee of the Virginia government was suspended for blogging. My entry on the topic includes links to a few MSM articles. AP also covered the news.

-- Liberal blogger John Aravosis of Americablog wondered aloud whether he and his fellow Democrats should stop criticizing officials of their own party until after the election. The discussion that followed prompted coverage in the Post. Newspapers also recently have covered how blogs are changing political discourse, boosting the campaigns of underdogs, and influencing the news-reporting process and evolution of political rumors.

-- The concern that campaigns might hire bloggers to do opposition research on candidates surfaced in Minnesota.

-- The battle between Sen. Joseph Lieberman and Ned Lamont for the Democratic Senate nomination in Connecticut is generating lots of buzz, with Lamont being the favorite among liberal bloggers and Lieberman being their whipping boy. Even The Wall Street Journal has taken note of the race. The political impact of bloggers more broadly already has been sufficient for MSM outlets to write about the revolutionary potential of blogs in Campaign 2006.

-- Connecticut lawmakers cleared a "shield" law that aims to protect the sources of bloggers as well as journalists.

-- The Los Angeles Police Department started a blog last week, a development that has sparked both news coverage and commentary.

-- A cyber attack earlier this month knocked millions of blogs offline.

-- Robert Bluey, the editor of Human Events Online, and Tim Chapman, the new director of the Center for Media and Public Policy at The Heritage Foundation, organized what they promise is the first of a series of off-the-record meetings on Capitol Hill for conservative bloggers.

-- Markos Moulitsas Zuniga of Daily Kos penned an op-ed in The Washington Post about the presidential ambitions of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. He thinks she has "a Bill Clinton problem." Power Line thinks Moulitsas needed a better editor, and Christian Grantham said the logic in the article is "intellectually retarded."

-- Time magazine published a piece about the emergence of blog specialists on Capitol Hill. Matt Stoller of MyDD was flattered to have earned complaints from anonymous Democratic aides.

-- Carol Darr of the Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet continues to get press coverage for her views on what might happen now that bloggers have a broad exemption from federal campaign finance law.

-- Blogads released its annual blog readership survey, a development that merited a mention in The Washington Post.

-- An advertising agency dropped its lawsuit against a Maine blogger after plenty of bad publicity over the suit. The case made a blogosphere hero of one Orlando, Fla., lawyer who helped defend the blogger.

Blogger Bill Hobbs, who lost his job for blogging, shared some thoughts on the Maine case, as did Instapundit. But Reynolds also reminded fellow bloggers that they are not immune from libel law.

-- "Blog rage" has been a hot topic in the MSM these days, what with all the vitriol from lefty bloggers directed at journalists like Jonathan Chait of The New Republic and Richard Cohen of the Post. Greg Sargent of The American Prospect tackled the issue, and Duncan Black of Eschaton responded.

CBS News added its thoughts on the Cohen flap and on the idea of blogs as a noise machine. Political Gateway reacted to the latter post. And the Prospect offered advice on "How To Avoid A Blog War."

-- Some bloggers think all the anger directed at them from the MSM is evidence that traditional media outlets feel threatened by the newcomers. But Jon Friedman of MarketWatch said they needn't feel threatened because the MSM still rule.

Maybe that's because so many people think you can't trust blogs. But the QandO Blog argued that blogs aren't supposed to be a trusted news source anyway.

-- Columnist Molly Ivins thinks it's a shame that bloggers are "breaking more toward opinion than journalism." She doesn't endorse the notion of credentialed journalists but does argue that bloggers should be able to write about a basic car accident before they get to cover a presidential campaign.

-- A prediction from an editor at a London newspaper: Most blogs "will disappear unnoticed, and frankly, unmissed by the world."

-- While the MSM continue to vent about blogs, they also continue to adopt them. The latest examples: blogs at a South Carolina newspaper and an auto blog at Consumer Reports. Some foreign correspondents are blogging, too, and more papers are welcoming content from bloggers. NBC News4 in Washington also just started a "Meet the Bloggers" feature for bloggers in Washington, D.C.

-- BBC issued staff guidelines to its bloggers.

-- One journalist thinks his colleagues can learn from bloggers how to "hat tip" the work of other writers. And another says freelance writers should consider blogs as a way to showcase their writing.

-- Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post advised magazine editors not to put their content behind subscription walls. Huffington, meanwhile, was profiled for her work in quickly creating a successful group blog.

-- The suspension of an ABC News producer over an opinionated e-mail that was exposed at The Drudge Report has one commentator wondering whether bloggers are contributing to the chilling of free speech in the MSM.

-- Plagiarism appears to be as much a problem in the blogosphere as the MSM. Some of them are good at exposing plagiarism by others, as happened in the recent case involving Raytheon CEO William Swanson.

-- Bloggers were out in force to cover E3, a conference of the videogame industry.

-- Liberal bloggers helped push a book by own of their own to the top of the charts.

-- Blogs can be a great way to foster business partnerships. They also can earn bloggers points toward redeemable gift cards at partners of

-- "Work Matters" columnist Cheryl Bean addressed the rights of both employees and employers when it comes to blogging. Some folks don't think Intel should be paying an employee to blog. The blogger bravely put the question to his readers.

-- Defending business brands is becoming increasingly important in the blogosphere.

-- An executive at Six Apart, a top blog software firm, touted business blogs. And the newspaper in Bradenton, Fla., noted the emergence of business blogs there.

-- AOL plans to launch a blog/social network to compete with MySpace. MySpace, meanwhile, continues to get bad press because of people who abuse the service.

-- Too many children reveal too much personal information on blogs -- and too many parents aren't aware of that behavior. But some people are trying to educate families about the dangers in the blogosphere.

-- On the flip side of the coin, blogs can serve as an aid to school course work. At least one university president also has found some value in blogging.

-- "Skypecasts": The next wave in the blog revolution? Or is it video blogs?

-- The National Basketball Association fined team owner Mark Cuban for comments he made at his blog.

-- Other recent stories have covered religious blogs in general, Jewish blogs in particular, medical blogs, and entertainment blogs focused on shows like "24" and "Grey's Anatomy." Mothers also are frequenting blogs.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Carnival #6: Scandal In The Blogosphere

Scandal has been a persistent theme in mainstream media coverage of the blogosphere the past couple of weeks.

The controversies have led to the resignation of a blogger at a religious university, the loss of a journalist's assignments as a blogger and columnist at a major daily newspaper, and a lawsuit against a blogger who criticized a government office in Maine. Another ongoing blog lawsuit involving Apple Computer also generated plenty of attention.

Bill Hobbs is the blogger who resigned from Belmont University, a religious school in Nashville. The Nashville Scene, an alternative newspaper, played a role in his downfall and complained about being "Blogged To Death" because of it.

The opposite happened in Los Angeles: A blogger who writes under the pseudonym Patterico chastised Los Angeles Times columnist/blogger Michael Hiltzik for using pseudonyms dishonestly -- by acting as "sock puppets" to praise and defend Hiltzik while pretending to be someone else. The end result: Hiltzik first lost his blog and later his column.

Associated Press, The Mercury News, The New York Times and The Washington Post covered the story. Bloggers Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine and Laura Heymann at Concurring Opinions were among those who reacted to the news. Instapundit Glenn Reynolds and Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters think the Times overreacted by pulling the blog and the column -- even though Morrissey said he is no fan of Hiltzik's work.

The Boston Globe had the story of the Maine blogger who was sued for allegedly making false statements about his state's tourism department and posting on his blog proposed advertisements for the department. The ad agency filed the suit. The blogger in question responded at the Maine Web Report, and blogger Ed Cone described the case as an example of "How Not To Fight A Web War."

E-Commerce Times, Internet News, The Motley Fool and Technology Review were among the publications that took an interest in the Apple lawsuit against a blogger who revealed details about an Apple product before its launch. The company alleges the violation of trade secrets. A blogger at ZDNet cited the case as evidence of "Why Tech Companies Hate The Blogosphere."

Other coverage of the blogosphere the past two weeks, by category:

-- Online Journalism Review wondered, "Can Newspapers Do Blogs Right?" Probably not, but that doesn't keep them from trying -- or deter media professionals from discussing the future of newspaper blogs.

The Palladium-Item in Indiana just added five blogs to its offerings, and the Houston Chronicle took another increasingly common route by hiring a conservative blogger who already has a loyal audience. Such steps are not limited to newspapers. BBC also decided to try its virtual hand at blogging. Even TV Guide is in the game.

-- Whether or not newspapers can do blogs rights, New Voices certainly thinks blogs have a future. They featured prominently in the $17,000 community journalism grants announced by the institution, which is affiliated with the University of Maryland.

-- Folks in the mainstream media have a love-hate relationship with blogs. They tend to hate them but love to talk about them. Comments by Jill Abramson of The New York Times and columnist Ellen Goodman chattered about the blogosphere at recent events. NewsBusters wasn't too impressed with Abramson's speech.

-- Daniel Henninger of The Wall Street Journal thinks "the world of blogs may be filling up with people who for the previous 200 millennia of human existence kept their weird thoughts more or less to themselves."

Instapundit accused Henninger of engaging in the very type of name-calling he condemned. And Dan Gillmor of the Center for Citizen Media countered, "If you don't like it, don't read it."

-- Blogs tend to be a popular topic at journalism conferences. KnoxViews has a recap of a recent one at the University of Tennessee. The topic also arose at a recent European media forum.

-- You know blogs are hip when "blog editor" becomes a trendy job in the MSM. Some good editors apparently are needed, if two recent commentaries about the writing style of blogs is correct.

-- Blog writing also came under fire in an opinion package published by The Philadelphia Inquirer. Bloggers Hugh Hewitt and Jarvis also contributed essays to the package. blogger Daniel Rubin added his voice to the debate after the series ran.

-- Howard Mortman continued his series on the blogs read by media stars. Jeff Zeleny, national political correspondent of The Chicago Tribune was the latest to share his list.

-- A Florida newspaper is hosting a Survivor-style blog festival.

-- The first annual Milblog Conference was largely one big griping session, with slaps at the mainstream media, anti-war protestors and even the military because of its discussions about restrictions on blogs. But there were some positive discussions, too, as noted in a BBC piece on how blogs connect family members with their children at war.

A milblogger penned a commentary after the conference. And days before it, The Boston Globe reported on the blog debate over the tenure of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

-- The military may want to restrict how soldiers use blogs, but the CIA recognizes them as an intelligence resource.

-- Few milbloggers think of liberal blogger Markos Moulitsas Zuniga of Daily Kos as a soldier -- or as a Republican. But he was both at one point in his life, as he explained himself at American Prospect Online.

-- A blogger in Pennsylvania convinced the state Senate to pass a bill to limit protests at military funerals.

Government and politics
-- "Given that formal rules for bloggers don't really exist, and there isn't really any oversight over blogs like there is over traditional media, it seems to me that blogs are set to become a natural tool for manipulating an election." So wrote Rob Enderle and TechNews World, and then he went on to predict how it might happen.

-- Bloggers probably wouldn't admit any attempts to manipulate elections, but bloggers in Indiana certainly are confident that they have the power to shape state and local politics. Bloggers in Albuquerque, N.M., tried to demonstrate their power recently by holding a blog-in at a city council meeting.

-- Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut is under fire from bloggers in his own party. They are making their preference for Ned Lamont well known and appear to be having an impact in the race.

-- In Ohio, congressional candidates are making a point of meeting the bloggers, as the blogosphere gains power in the Buckeye State. America Online also now has a home in Ohio. The title, Blogging Ohio, gets straight to the point.

-- On Capitol Hill, Democrats and Republicans are so determined to use the blogosphere to their advantage that they're even fighting over who knows more about them.

-- Carol Darr of the Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet participated in an online chat at the Web site of The Chronicle of Higher Education. The topic: applying campaign finance law to blogs. Adam Bonin took her to task, as he has before, at Daily Kos.

-- Twins Aaron and Matt Margolis have won enough of a following as both national and local political bloggers in Boston to merit a profile in The Boston Globe. A less-flattering look at angry liberal bloggers by The Washington Post sparked plenty of critical commentary. The American Thinker has a roundup of links.

-- A recent study in Europe, meanwhile, concluded that bloggers have a "disproportionately large influence on society, particularly the media. The Blogometer offered a roundup of blog reactions to the report.

-- I'm thinking my social studies classes would have been a lot more fun if blogging had existed in the 1980s.

-- St. Norbert College in Wisconsin is offering a blog service for students, in part in an effort to boost admissions. But a Catholic legal expert thinks blogs pose grave safety and legal issues to students.

-- Some young people see blogs as a good place to mourn. Bloggers in New Hampshire also paid tribute to a favorite college professor.

-- Blog censorship in China has been in the news lately, what with the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao visiting America. Two columnists opined against it.

-- The corporate world in the Czech Republic now includes blogs.

-- Businesses are starting to adopt blogs and wikis, a type of collaborative software, for the same reason they did e-mail -- to improve workflow.

-- The market for video blogs appears to be booming.

-- A look at the rewards and risks of corporate blogging. There's also buzz about business blogs in Wisconsin.

-- The Wall Street Journal hosted a discussion about whether blogs can make money. Jason Calacanis, who made millions of dollars by selling Weblogs Inc. to AOL, tracked the debate that ensued in the blogosphere.

-- Blogs can help drive book sales.

-- Is blogging a career boost or a career obstacle? Read and decide for yourself.

-- Sphere is a new blog search tool.

-- AOL launched a series of blogs focused on company stocks.

-- Blogger burnout is a perpetual problem. Is that what's happening in China?

-- Blog spam is on the rise.

-- The Economist pondered a definition for blog.

-- Hungry? Take a spin through the culinary blogosphere. Building or buying home? Check the blogosphere for tips and news.

-- Both golf and hockey fans have blogs of their own, too.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Carnival #5: Kingston Of The Blogosphere

Rep. Jack Kingston is among the most astute lawmakers when it comes to recognizing the opportunity that blogs and other technologies present for elected officials.

The Georgia Republican started a blog of his own last year; he also started posting entries at RedState at about the same time; and he is one of the few members of Congress to try "podcasting." Kingston unsuccessfully lobbied bloggers on behalf of Roy Blunt, R-Mo., in the race to become House majority leader earlier this year. And in March, his staff hosted a blog workshop for House Republican press secretaries. (Full disclosure: I was one of the speakers at that event.)

Kingston continued his efforts this week by holding a conference call with a handful of conservative bloggers. The subjects ranged from Iraq and Iran to immigration reform and energy independence. (You can get full reports at Capitol Report, Captain's Quarters,, Right Wing News, The Right Angle and Wizbang.)

Kingston's presence in the blogosphere and his passion for technology have generated plenty of positive press for him. He was one of my sources in my article about "The Rise of Blogs" for National Journal magazine in January, for instance, and as noted here in the last carnival, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in Kingston's home state profiled him in March. (Another disclosure: I was interviewed for that story.)

Kingston's latest blog call prompted yet another piece, this time in The Washington Times.

He isn't the only lawmaker getting attention for outreach to the blogosphere, though. Also this week, The Hill covered efforts by House Democrats, particularly Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Capitol Report, GOP Bloggers and even the blog of the Republican National Committee highlighted the less-flattering aspects of the article. The liberal Americablog, by contrast, played up this quote from the story: "The liberal blogosphere is better developed than its conservative counterpart." And Matt Stoller of MyDD added that "it's good to see more recognition of the progressive blogosphere."

It's always amusing to see how the same story can spark such conflicting reactions.

That's just the start of the coverage about government and politics in the blogosphere over the past several days. Here's more for your reading pleasure:

Government and politics
-- From the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah: "More and more politicians are bypassing the mainstream news media and turning to blogs, or Web logs, to post information and interact with constituents. Blogging even made it as a topic at this week's meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures in Washington."

-- The Federal Election Commission ruling that exempted blogs from campaign finance rules sparked coverage for days afterward. The most recent pieces appeared in The Financial Times and The Washington Post. The Tennessean of Nashville also penned an editorial praising the FEC for its vote. And at Beltway Blogroll this week, I examined what the rules might mean for the future of Internet politics.

The regulatory reality is not nearly so friendly toward would-be political bloggers in Singapore.

-- How did a Wisconsin blogger topple a county Democratic chairman? The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has the answer: "He used unnamed sources. He posted lewd photos. He let his opinion be known about what he believed was the unethical and unprincipled behavior. ... He used tools that most mainstream media steer away from, but that bloggers are now using with gusto."

The Sheboygan Press also penned a general feature on the blogging phenomenon.

-- All poli-blogging is local -- well, some of it anyway. Bloggers in Mesa, Ariz., are sharing their thoughts on who the next police chief should be. Local blogs are hitting their stride in northern Virginia. And gubernatorial candidates in Massachusetts have taken note of the power of the blogosphere.

-- The Phoenix takes a closer look at the assertions of bloggers and the realities of the immigration debate after protests across the nation this week.

-- The Defense Department is keeping watch over the blogosphere.

-- Apple Computer's fight against bloggers who play journalistic roles without journalistic credentials goes back to court this month. And if bloggers in Ireland aren't careful, they could find themselves in court for libel charges.

-- New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, a Democratic candidate for governor in the Empire State, caused a stir in the blogosphere when he said the economy in upstate New York "looks like Appalachia." Being from Appalachia -- I'm a proud redneck in a white collar from West Virginia -- I find the slam a little irksome, though I can't really argue with reality that the Appalachian economy is perpetually troubled.

-- Two conservative writers criticized some of their own colleagues for rushing to believe the worst about freelance journalist Jill Carroll while she was held captive in the Middle East.

Jeff Jacoby told bloggers they need to learn to "Hold That Opinion" sometimes. And in a piece at the CBS News blog Public Eye, Jim Geraghty, a blogger himself at National Review Online, lamented that "a significant portion of the blogosphere has ... gone sour."

Liberal writer Ellen Goodman said bloggers should apologize to Carroll. And the Lincoln Journal Star in Nebraska blasted bloggers for attacking her, concluding: "This is as good a place as any for the blogosphere to start paying its dues and examining, or developing, its conscience."

Allah Pundit also posted a roundup of reactions at

-- had a bad experience after hiring a conservative blogger. But rather than shun the blogosphere because of that experience, now the publication is looking for both conservative and liberal bloggers.

-- Byron Calame, the public editor at The New York Times, examined his paper's moves into the blogosphere. It's moves are pretty lame, actually, and so is Calame's column -- just what you'd expect from a green-eyeshade newsman of a bygone era.

The Times also created a new "Ask The Editors" feature, and blogger Michelle Malkin encouraged her readers to have some fun with it.

-- The merging of old and new media is continuing, and bloggers are set to benefit from the three latest cases of convergence: The LexisNexis database firm struck a deal with Newstex to deliver blog content; Reuters inked a deal with the international blog network Global Voices Online; and the new BlogBurst syndication service already has some major newspaper clients for the expert blog commentary it hopes to offer.

The convergence, noted by Tech News World and Wired News, is even evident at the local level. This week's proof: The Beaumont Enterprise invited young people to join a new group blog for Southeast Texas.

-- Public television host David Brancaccio is a fan of blogs. Here are excerpts from an interview with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

"The idea of citizen voices expressing themselves through blogs is fabulous. There's people reading them and there's people with cool opinions. I read blogs quite a bit because they are other smart people with more time on their hands than me, [and they] have aggregated stories that I need to see. ... When we screw up, the bloggers are right there to hold our feet to the fire. But there has to be a basis of actual fact, fact does matter. It's not all just spin. But if blogs are built upon a foundation of facts that journalism can provide, then that's a great synergy."

-- CBS News hired Katie Couric as the first solo female anchor for an American evening news program. That sounds like a big development, but some bloggers apparently could care less. Others have shown more interest.

-- The San Francisco Chronicle profiled Markos Moulitsas Zuniga of Daily Kos and included a podcast of the interview with the story.

-- The government of Singapore is being condemned for gagging bloggers and other online activists in the run-up to the Asian nation's election. Computerworld wonders whether the censorship will work.

-- Bloggers are doing their part to spread a conspiracy theory about Iran's plan to topple the United States.

-- Video blogs could be threatened by pending television legislation in the European Union.

-- A pro-democratic blogger from Nepal was scheduled to speak at the University of California at Los Angeles about his country's oppression of democratic activists.

-- Blogs are gaining popularity among legislators in Finland. Plus a look at blogging in South Africa.

-- Shanghai Daily reported on the popularity of a new blogging service for Chinese children.

-- Will Richardson of New Jersey earned recognition as a pioneer educational blogger. So did Alexander Halavais of State University of New York.

Kansas University students blogged about their studies abroad in Italy. And blogs by teachers have led to the equivalent of a virtual teachers' lounge where everyone has access.

-- The first Blooker Prize for a book based on a blog went to an amateur chef. The book chronicled her attempt to cook the recipes of Julia Childs.

The blog-to-book transition is working out well for more writers, like the author of "Bitter is the New Black" and 26-year-old Jason Mulgrew, who has both book and television deals, and has been named among the most eligible bachelors.

-- Some bloggers/wannabe sailors have made cussing part of their shtick. It's little wonder, then, that when The Daily News in Longview, Wash., asked on its blog whether there is too much foul language these days, bloggers had plenty to say on the topic.

-- The Guardian published a piece on feminist blogs, and AlterNet reacted.

-- Some lawyers see blogs as a tool to help them get clients.

-- One of the benefits of blogging: freebies. One of the risks of blogging: spam. Plus the latest word on blog/podcast/RSS advertising -- and the news is good.

-- The movie "Snakes On A Plane" is the subject of plenty of commentary in the blogosphere. One movie expert thinks Hollywood should be using blogs and podcasts, too. Some celebrities already are.

-- Blogging can be a productivity killer, but apparently there is a niche for productivity blogs that aim to "offer a way out of a life of perpetually unfinished to-do lists." Other niches: classical blogs, the Masters golf tournament, neckties, beef jerky and more.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Carnival #4: All About Plagiarism

Plagiarism has been a dominant topic in and about both the blogosphere and the MSM the past couple of weeks. First, bloggers exposed one of their own as a serial plagiarist in works that he wrote before he became a blogger. Then bloggers turned the tables on the MSM, providing evidence of plagiarism by the wire service Associated Press.

Ben Domenech of RedState was the blogger busted for lifting the work of others. He's a conservative, and liberal bloggers upset that The Washington Post had contracted with Domenech to write a new blog called Red America went looking for any dirt they could find on him. They found abundant evidence of his plagiarism. At Beltway Blogroll, which I write for, I recapped the coverage of the Domenech debacle in both the blogosphere and traditional media.

Jim Brady of caught a lot of grief for his role in hiring Domenech, but Slate media critic Jack Shafer later defended Brady.

Soon after that uproar faded, Larisa Alexandrovna picked a fight with AP for not properly crediting work she had done in her role as the managing editor of Raw Story. It's not plagiarism of the sort that Domenech reluctantly confessed, but at the least AP ended up looking rather foolish -- first for defending its actions by stating that AP does not credit blogs and then for flip-flopping on that elitist stance.

In a column for Editor & Publisher, blogger Brad Friedman took the MSM in general to task for giving bloggers short shrift. Plenty of blogs, including Captain's Quarters, Eschaton, Instapundit, MyDD, Talking Points Memo, also penned critical commentary.

Plagiarism is a big deal no matter where you blog. But libel is probably less of a concern in America than it is in places like the United Kingdom. It's definitely an issue there, as evidenced by a "bloggers beware" article in the Manchester Evening News. And in Ireland, a blog faces closure after making allegedly libelous statements about businesses, people, artists and politicians. It must be tough for bloggers to have a voice in Ireland.

There have been plenty of other blog stories in the MSM since mid-March, covering everything from a hiker who blogs to travel and tourism blogs, as well as beauty blogs. Here's your guide:

Government and politics
-- In a follow-up to the lead item in the Carnival #3, the Federal Election Commission largely exempted blogs from campaign finance rules. The House responded by pulling a related bill that appears to be moot in light of the FEC action.

Both a column at TechWeb News and an editorial in a Texas newspaper warned that the decision has opened the door to further blog regulation. And the Los Angeles Times added that the low barrier to entry into the blogosphere and the penchant of bloggers to uncover hidden agendas make for "a far more effective regulatory force than the FEC could ever hope to apply."

-- Bloggers are being portrayed as both heroes and villains in the story surrounding the release of freelance journalist Jill Carroll by captors in Iraq.

-- AP profiled Michigan's political blogs, and the two major parties apparently pay attention to each other's blogging. "I follow Democrats' blogs. Democrats follow our blogs," Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis told AP.

-- A coalition of Democratic bloggers in Texas took a fellow Democrat to task for his recent behavior in a congressional race. Roger Owen, the Democratic nominee in the 1st District, called another Democrat "a piece of dirt."

-- Something called the WisPolitics/WisOpinion Blog Summit was held several days ago, and the school paper at the University of Wisconsin at Madison has a full report. In Virginia, liberal bloggers are fighting for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party.

-- Are blogs part of or entirely "the liberal base of the Democratic Party"? The Washington Post tackled that question as the result of criticism from one of the top liberal blogs. Me thinks John Aravosis of Americablog protesteth too much. But this analysis seems to be on the mark: "Blogs can be anything from vital, valid journalism to hysterical ranting to dull and even offensive adolescent musings."

-- Other recent stories noted: the political transformation wrought by blogs; the "netroots" as "the ultimate in digital optimization"; blogs as a tool for political attacks, even down to the local level; the immigration debate as a wedge issue for conservative blogs; the growth of the environmental blogging movement; blog leadership by Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga. (full disclosure: I'm quoted in the story) ; the American Civil Liberties Union's defense of a blogger parody; and the push to engage "Reagan's children" via the blogosphere.

-- The Anderson Independent-Mail in South Carolina has joined the media blogging revolution. But the clueless Canon City Daily Record in Colorado, however, apparently thinks too many mainstream media outlets are rushing to embrace blogs.

-- A columnist in Ohio offered these predictions after speaking at a blog forum: "It's only a matter of time before every community has a blog that is influencing public opinion, or at least is part of the mainstream conversation. It's only a matter of time before every newspaper has some sort of blog-like companion to its print editions."

-- What does columnist Molly Ivins think of bloggers? "Bloggers are not news-gatherers, but opinion-mongers. I have long argued that no one should be allowed to write opinion without spending years as a reporter -- nothing like interviewing all four eyewitnesses to an automobile accident and then trying to write an accurate account of what happened." And here's more MSM commentary on "the painful truth about bloggers."

-- A San Francisco Chronicle columnist longs for the day when bloggers, the MSM and other enemies in the digital revolution can all get along. Two signs that the day is coming: the launch of BlogBurst, a network for syndicating blog content in newspapers, and Time magazine's foray into the blogosphere also hints at that possibility. But one newspaperman thinks such moves may spell the end of "the blog as a disruptive and rebellious medium."

-- The path to blogger fame and fortune ironically appears to be recognition in the mainstream media that so many bloggers despise. And in marking the 10th anniversary of his paper's move online, the computer columnist for The Chicago Tribune said, "The lifeblood of content for the blogosphere comes from the very news organizations that so many bloggers think they are making obsolete."

-- Newspapers in Michigan and Wisconsin independently noted the benefits of college blogs, including their ability to offer both advice and insider views of the college scene. The best education bloggers say their medium of choice is having an impact on teaching and learning.

-- A dean of students and English teacher in Pennsylvania is so smitten with blogs and the lessons they can teach that he is requiring students to write their own and link to his in order to create a "virtual classroom.

-- The contrary view: School administrators in Fort Wayne, Ind., are so disturbed by what they have seen on some blogs that they tried to block student access to them. Some information on blogs and social-networking sites like MySpace are even being used to aid criminal probes.

-- Blogging is the medium of the young, but some older folks like the medium, too.

-- "The risks of blogging can discourage companies from even trying -- or can cause them to post Web sites that blog readers see as lame attempts to blog." That's one of several insights from a recent MSNBC piece about blogging in the business world. The article suggests that smart companies engage the blogosphere, and I concur. The pharmaceutical industry appears to be getting the message.

-- Microsoft employees recently aired their gripes about the company anonymously at Mini-Microsoft, a forum whose mission is to "slim down Microsoft into a lean, mean, efficient, customer-pleasing, profit-making machine."

-- Smaller businesses in the Tampa, Fla., region are more likely than larger ones to have blogs. They understand that blogs can be a powerful marketing tool.

-- Most bloggers are writing volunteers, so it makes sense that there is a budding blog community in the Volunteer State (that's Tennessee for those of you who are challenged in the state nicknames department).

-- The problem with blogs: bad grammar. They are more "brain dump" than writing forum.

-- Bloggers Blends: a new coffee brand just for bleary-eyed bloggers. Maybe they'll serve it as part of the Blogonomics conference/cruise.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Carnival #3: The Fight For Online Political Speech

Bloggers were the focus of attention in pockets of official Washington this week, as both the House and the Federal Election Commission pondered changes to campaign finance rules on behalf of bloggers. Neither body ultimately took action, but the press covered the developments as they unfolded. set the stage with a piece last week on a House committee's approval of legislation designed to largely exempt blogs from campaign finance rules. The House was expected to consider the legislation today but delayed action as concerns about the legislation mounted. Two major newspapers, The New York Times and the Philadelphia Daily News, voiced some concerns in editorials. The Christian Science Monitor and UPI also covered the story.

The Nation explored the behind-the-scenes maneuvering and politics in detail, and at Beltway Blogroll, my blog/column at, I took note of the "strange blogfellows" that have emerged during the debate over the past year.

Two other topics I've covered at Beltway Blogroll recently also have been in the news: Wal-Mart's outreach to bloggers and blog ethics.

The Wal-Mart story was hot last week, after publication of a New York Times story that raised questions about bloggers parroting information straight from Wal-Mart's public relations firm. An executive with that PR firm discussed the issue in an online chat at, and Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz also covered the story.

The ethics issue arose when a writer at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy penned a piece on bloggers who take free trips designed to promote, say, a destination or a business. I had addressed the issue earlier this year and was quoted in the story. Most bloggers weren't too fond of my take in my first blog entry, and the latest blurb generated more criticism.

Blogging generated a bit of controversy in China recently, too. Word spread that the government there had closed a couple of top blogs, and mainstream media outlets like Reuters were all over the story. The next day, however, Reuters reported that the blogs had reappeared. Apparently that's because the whole story was a hoax -- a fact that China Daily happily reported. Curiously, some Chinese officials started blogging at about the same time.

China Daily also had a recent piece on the increasing popularity of blogging in China, and so did National Public Radio. Similar articles have reported on blogging in Kenya, Lebanon and exotic places like (tongue planted firmly in cheek) Buffalo, N.Y.

Other news from the blogging front the past two weeks:

Government and politics
-- White House adviser Karl Rove has had some praiseworthy things to say about blogs in the past, but he apparently has seen the dark side of the blogosphere, too. The Chicago Sun-Times recently noted this not-so-flattering quote from Rove: "There is so much ugliness and viciousness and fundamental untruths that the blogosphere transmits. It also is a vehicle for ugly rumors, for scurrilous personal attacks, an avenue for the creation of urban legends, which are deeply corrosive of the political system and of people's faith in it."

-- Two members of Congress want bloggers to review pre-war intelligence documents related to the war in Iraq. The documents have been made available online.

-- The Mixed Signals blog of National Public Radio notes a recent exchange about the military and blogging between a House lawmaker and a top general testifying before Congress.

-- A few newspapers have taken a recent interest in the increasing political impact of blogs. The newspaper in Asheville, N.C., ran a piece on blogs and free speech, and the Washington bureau of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explored the role of blogs in the nation's capital. The longtime statehouse reporter of the Tallahassee Democrat in Florida, meanwhile, tried his hand (or mouth) at audio blogging this year's legislative session. And a New Jersey paper editorialized against the move by one lawmaker there to ban anonymous speech at blogs.

-- "A lame excuse? A case of recovered memory? Or something worse?" Those are the questions Slate columnist Jack Shafer asked in closing the column where he ridiculed former New York Times reporter Judy Miller for arguing that blogs killed her career. Blogger Arianna Huffington offered an equally harsh criticism of Miller's anti-blog whine.

-- Some Washington Post bloggers are paid extra for their online work; others are not. Guess who is jealous of whom?

-- The Seattle Post-Intelligencer announced newcomers to its citizen blogging effort.

-- Bloggers are engaged in the effort to convince Iraqi captors to release freelance reporter Jill Carroll.

-- People in Singapore apparently don't have much confidence in blogs as a news source.

-- George Clooney is no blogger and doesn't want anyone to think he is, so The Huffington Post had to remove the entry it manufactured and attributed to him.

-- Bloggers beat their journalistic counterparts to the punch in reviewing a stage production of "Lord of the Rings" in Canada.

-- More companies are deciding that blogging may not be such a bad idea after all -- and it might even help the bottom line if they do it right. Another piece calls the concept "blogging the brand," and a third article said blogs can be viable marketing tools. Bloomberg also had a story on corporate blogging. All the interest might explain why the blog software maker Six Apart is selling business-friendly blog tools.

-- That said, human resources experts said employee bloggers still need to be careful of what they say and do online. That's because it is still possible to get fired for blogging.

-- Newsweek profiled "blog king" Jason Calacanis, who made millions of dollars last fall by selling his upstart blogging company to America Online.

-- Federal Computer Week compiled a list of tech blogs for its readers to peruse.

-- A newspaper in Florida gave a plug to Technorati, the blog search engine, in an article headlined "Deciphering Blogs from the Blech."

-- Last week's Carnival of Blog coverage noted some of the controversy surrounding MySpace, a blogging service popular with young people. One concerned parent tackled that subject in a newspaper column about the "MySpace monster" last week, while a newspaper in Tennessee penned an article on what parents can do to help clean MySpace.

-- Blog-based books, or "blooks," now have their own award, the Blooker Prize. "An Army of Davids" isn't eligible for the prize, but that blog-authored book continues to generate interest. Both the New York Post and TCSDaily reviewed it recently.

-- There also have been recent blurbs about blogging and philanthropy, and blogging and tourism.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Carnival #2: Youth + Blogs = Trouble

One of the best attributes of the blogosphere is its ability to empower everyone to say what they think or post whatever they please. But when immature people seize that power, trouble is sure to ensue. Some of the recent news coverage about blogs provides the evidence.

In Denver late last month, for instance, police arrested a 16-year-old boy for posting to the MySpace blog network photographs of himself holding handguns. He posted the photos the same day he was suspended from a high school in the same district as Columbine High School, which was the scene of an infamous shooting in 1999. In Michigan, 15 to 20 teenagers faced school disciplinary action after they posted photos of themselves at drinking parties.

Another student is facing child pornography charges for posting pictures of two underage people have sex. In Greenwich, Conn., five female students were arrested for allegedly posting to the Xanga blog network a threat aimed at deterring another student from testifying in a drug bust against one of their friends. Two other MySpace-related incidents also have been reported recently, one involving graphic threats against a student and the other about the arrest of two men suspected of sexual contact with minors arranged through the social-networking site.

Such espisodes, especially the ones that might endanger children's lives, are occurring often enough that public officials are taking notice. A school in Washington state recently held a forum on protecting children online, including by monitoring their blog activities. Some schools also have blocked access to blog communities like MySpace and Xanga on school computers. Universities, corporations and others also are getting into the blog-monitoring practice.

The jump from high school into college does not necessarily make one wiser when it comes to thinking twice before blogging, either. A university blogger in China, which is known for its repression of Internet freedom, landed in trouble for criticizing a journalism professor. Plus in Canada, allegations of "cyber libel" are becoming more common as blogs become more popular.

As has been the case with the Internet as a whole, the blogosphere can be used for good or evil. The evil tends to get more attention in the mainstream media, but sometimes we journalists also take note of the good news.

In Pennsylvania, for example, a psychology professor is requiring her students to monitor blogs as a better way to understand adolescent behavior in the information age. The Indianapolis Star has a positive story about blogs on campus. And The Harvard Crimson has an article on a new blog networking effort aimed at sharing ideas, communicating events and increasing campus-wide discussion.

Flashback to Carnival #1

My first roundup at the Carnival of Blog Coverage recapped the recent buzz about declining readership in the blogosphere. A handful of blog fans in the mainstream media dismissed that notion in follow-up articles.

Eric Zorn of The Chicago Tribune, for instance, challenged the apparently wishful thinking of his own newspaper, which published an editorial after the recent readership polls. National Journal media critic William Powers, who works just a couple of floors up from me, also did his part to counter the anti-blog buzz, as did Jason Fry of The Wall Street Journal. Washington Post Internet columnist Frank Ahrens also penned a piece in response to the surveys.

Other recent articles have covered banking and blogging, lawyers and blogging and trucking and blogging. Here's a detailed look at blog coverage since late February, divided by category:

Government and politics
-- U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla., has a public-relations team that is funneling information to blogs focused on military efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq and in turn directing Internet traffic back toward the military's CENTCOM Web site. CENTCOM also is podcasting now.

-- A blogger used the Freedom of Information Act to gain access to orders issued by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

-- The bid by Pennsylvania Republican Rick Santorum for another six-year Senate term is being covered in thorough, and sometimes personal, detail by critical bloggers. And AlterNet asks, "Can Blogs Revolutionize Progressive Politics?"

-- Not every candidate should have a blog, if you ask Michael Turk, who up until last year headed the e-campaign efforts of the Republican National Committee. I'm having fun tracking candidate blogs at National Journal's Beltway Blogroll, so I hope candidates ignore his article.

-- A columnist in Helena, Mont., imagined a world without blogs -- and he didn't like it.

-- Slate Editor Jacob Weisberg compared bloggers to "a hen sitting on the eggs, incubating the story while there's nowhere for it to go."

-- Journalism professor Jay Rosen of PressThink and his students launched a new blog venture called Blue Plate Special. The first issue includes a list of the best blogging newspapers and facts about those efforts, as well as features on blogging efforts at the Houston Chronicle and USA Today.

-- MarketWatch profiled blogger Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine. Another blogger admitted to being pleasantly surprised that New York Times write David Carr is not such an old fogey when it comes to blogs. And The Washington Post published a profile of Confederate Yankee Bob Owen.

-- If you want to know what blogs the "famous media" read, visit Extreme Mortman, where my former National Journal colleague Howard Mortman is regularly listing the favorites of MSMers. Those who have participated so far include Jeff DuFour of The Hill, Howard Fineman of Newsweek, John Harwood of The Wall Street Journal, Walter Shapiro of Salon, Roger Simon of Bloomberg and Jake Tapper of ABC News.

-- The Center for Citizen Media reported on a new service called BlogBurst that aims to syndicate blog content to newspapers.

Book reviews
Two books by bloggers are about to be released, and both they and their authors are getting plenty of press. The first tome is Army of Davids, by Instapundit Glenn Reynolds; the second is Crashing the Gate, by Jerome Armstrong of MyDD and Markos Moulitsas Zuniga of Daily Kos.

Reynolds will be at the National Press Club in Washington on Monday to promote his book, which recently has been reviewed by ABC News and The Philadelphia Inquirer. In addition, journalist/blogger Ed Cone interviewed Reynolds at last month. Crashing the Gate, meanwhile, has been reviewed by The Nation, and MSNBC mentioned the book in a profile of Armstrong.

Both books also have been the subject of multiple reviews by bloggers, and at MyDD, Armstrong invited readers to join a conversation about Crashing The Gate.

-- The Chinese government may not be fond of its people blogging, but officials have come to realize the power of the blog. AP reports that the government has created lawmaker blogs in an attempt to boost public interest in the figurehead parliament and companion advisory board.

-- The government of Pakistan is blocking access to blogs that have invited people to post images of the Muslim prophet Muhammad.

-- If you're looking for a new job, the best place to look might be the employee blogs in your favorite companies. "[B]loggers do a lot of chitchatting about work-related issues that can be a gold mine of information for job hunters," the Houston Chronicle reports. BusinessWeek Online also has "The Inside Story on Company Blogs."

-- Companies are incorporating blogs into their public-relations campaigns as they try to create buzz around products. And apparently blogs already have enough power that specialized companies are trying to quantify the impact of blogs on businesses.

-- The ECT News Network examines the relationship between retailers and customers who blog.