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.

Media
-- 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.

Business
-- 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 Gather.com.

-- "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.

Culture
-- 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:

Media
-- 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. Philly.com 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.

Military
-- 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.

Culture
-- 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.

International
-- 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.

Business
-- 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.

Miscellaneous
-- 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.