Carnival Of Blog Coverage

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, HughHewitt.com, 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.

Media
-- 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 MichelleMalkin.com.

-- Washingtonpost.com 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.

International
-- 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.

Culture
-- 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 NationalJournal.com, I recapped the coverage of the Domenech debacle in both the blogosphere and traditional media.

Jim Brady of washingtonpost.com 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.

Media
-- 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."

Culture
-- 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.

Business
-- "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.

Miscellaneous
-- 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.