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Blogosphere ...

Which trend will be credited to have started in the year 2005?

Reality Shows – but you had similar (albeit less orchestrated ones like Sa Re Ga Ma Pa) running even earlier; MMS – but again Podcasting or MMS are just improved forms of porn-exchange that has existed since we had earliest Sex sites on the net; Sensex – have you forgotten the dot com boom; Rain Havoc in Metros – no major precedents except the Tsunami; Blogs making news – ah! Any precedents here? I don’t have any.

Indeed, blogs have emerged as sure opinion makers this year. Though, blogs usually cannot be counted in isolation – they created opinion while being supported by emails, instant messaging and websites – however, in the past one year Blogs have risen from being support structures to the web to being central themes around which the online world is slowly starting to revolve. Further, Blogs are rising in numbers; overly optimistic estimates quote the number of Indian bloggers to 12 lakh – even a pessimistic figure of 40,000 is a decent number.

Not only has blogging caught up as a trend amongst young and old – blogs are fast becoming beagles to unearth important developments. Some examples include the exposure of IIPM by Gaurav Sabnis and Rashmi Bansal and use of blogs to create public awareness about manhandling of Nimish Advani at the Bangalore Railway Station. It is not surprising that even the regular media chooses to expose their sting operations through online partners like Tehelka and Cobrapost.

After the arrival of Electronic Media – print media did not remain the primary source of news. However, it still remained the source in news analysis and sociopolitical commentary. In fact, print media still is probably the more powerful medium when it comes to forming social opinion or influencing national and local decision making. However, the growth in the readership of blogs poses a stiff competition to print media not only in terms of readership but also in retaining their position as the primary sources of sociopolitical commentary.

Not just the increase in readership of blogs but even the changing (read: deteriorating) quality of print commentary also has a role to play in blogs becoming powerful. Of late, print media is reducing its role from journalism to mere reporting. The mad rush for masala news about celebrities and the rich and famous, in short the spread of Page 3 across all pages of newspapers is slowly wooing quality commentators away from newspapers. More so, now that even news-space is being traded like a commodity, yellow journalism seems to enter the genes of the way news gets reported. Further, politicization of print media leads to the pages being used by political forces for biased propaganda rather than unbiased commentary.

In such a scenario blogs provide a free, unbiased and fact based commentary which reflects larger public opinion. Bloggers are like the child who is not afraid to point out to a larger audience that the emperor is not fully clothed. Further, blogs are like personal edifices which get influenced by how people think what they do and observe in their personal lives. The content does not limit itself to public or social events but covers any incident that one goes through in his/her life. The joy of reading a blog is not only in the content but also in the linguistic beauty that it represents.

Finally as the society becomes flatter and diverse, seeming lay-men start to emerge as expert commentators. Open source culture of free knowledge-sharing which is pervading the world of Science & Technology is also responsible for popularity of blogging. Professionals form a large portion of blogger community; Professors and others related to teaching and research are also joining the club (at least in countries like US) – especially because students themselves form a major pool of blogging (esp. Blog-reading) community. While some freelance journalists have already joined the community, many more will follow in the coming days.

In spite of all the above reasons, blogs are far from becoming a threatening force for print media. There are some obvious features that blogs currently lack over print. A newspaper or journal offers selective and organized text, properly edited and cropped to remove unnecessary content. The closest blog world comes to this are sites like Technorati which provide ratings, or shared blogs which are maintained by a group of experts/ enthusiasts. Also, blogs can become highly personalized in some cases and might not always contain the mass appeal.

If a mechanism can be evolved to overcome these and similar shortcomings of blogs, then Blogs could start posing a worthy alternative to print media, thus luring ardent readers of newsprint to the Blogosphere.

Comments

  1. there is another type of media coming up very rapidly... PODcasting... or PODs... checkout

    ReplyDelete

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