Definition and description:
Blogs were one of the earliest and most effective means of communication in the social media sphere, besides forums. The Dictionary defines blog as “a discussion or informational website published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete, often informal diary-style text entries (posts).” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary1 (MWD) defines a blog as a ‘Web site on which someone writes about personal opinions, activities, and experiences; the things that a person writes on such a web site.” A blog can be used as a verb; blogger and blogging as nouns and its first known use were in 1999.
A blogger is a publisher, creator, and distributor of content. Blogging is the art of creating content and the one who writes is called as a blogger. The blog is the combination of two words – web and logging which is a technique of online journaling. It is popularly described as a log of writings publicly posted on WWW.
A blog contains contents that can be archived with entries arranged in calendar format with the most recent posts appearing first. A typical weblog has three elements — title, link, and description. Blogs are commentaries written on anything and everything in the universe. However, bloggers usually adhere to a specific subject which helps in forming virtual communities among like-minded people without physical, religious, ethnic or cultural boundaries. Most bloggers express their opinion on happenings; in that sense, it is more analytical and reactionary. There is a provision in a blog to receive comments on an article years after an entry is made. By contrast, comments on online news stories taper out within a few days. By tracking feedbacks and emails, a blogger gets to know what his/her readers are looking for; whether they were happy or unhappy with the post.
After publishing a post, a blogger can share the links on social networking sites such as Twitter and FB. Sharing the content on social media is helpful in generating more traffic and promoting one’s blog. Also, you can own any number of blogs — you can have a food blog, political, fashion, health, education, and a travel blog. There is no restriction on running blogs on hosting sites.
A blog is usually free for online viewers to read. Some blogs do seek mandatory registration or subscription from readers but such blogs are not commonly found. Blogs are a diary-kind of websites that are easier to launch, operate and maintain. The writer makes entries informally and they are arranged in reverse chronological order. The technology to set up a blog is easy and inexpensive, even free. Blog hosting services such as WordPress (WP) or Blogger offer various kinds of colour schemes and layouts.
Search engine operations (SEO) on the Internet recognize blogs through high-quality content. SEOs are always on the lookout for new content. A blogger gives labels or tags which help SEOs in uploading new contents on the net. Google is the major search engine that gives ranking to blogs.
Blogs can be hosted by blog hosting services or regular web hosting sites or by using blog software (Source: Wikipedia). Blogger is the most popular blog hosting site being used today according to critics. However, statistics on bloggers listed under it is not available to the public. Statistics of blogs listed on other popular blog hosting services worldwide are: Tumblr — 172 million blogs, Technorati — 1.3 million and WordPress — 75.8 million (February 2014 figures).
Blogs get ranking from Alexa Internet, indiblogger.in (which gives scoring of Indian blogs) and Google. Google finds and ranks web pages based on the number of links made to them. Earlier, blog specialist search engine Technorati gave rankings based on the number of incoming links (Technorati stopped doing this from 2014). In August 2006, Technorati found that the most linked-to blog on the Internet was that of Chinese actress Xu Jinglei. Chinese media Xinhua reported that this blog received more than 50 million page views, claiming it to be the most popular blog in the world. Technorati had rated Boing Boing to be the most-read group-written blog (Source: Wikipedia).
Features of Blog:
A typical blog has text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages and other media related to its topic.2 The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format forms a vital element of blogging. Most blogs are primarily textual, although video blogging (YouTube), music (MP3 blog), photographs (photoblog) and audio blogging (podcasting) have come up.
The below features of blogging are also its advantages:
- Innovativeness: Creative writing by an individual or group of individuals
- Personal touch: Documenting one’s own experience > Interactivity: Sharing one’s knowledge or skills with a larger audience
- Introspection: Expressing opinion and discussing about events Lack of commercial interest: Most bloggers write out of passion and don’t have market constraints unlike MSM which is concerned about advertisers’ interest
- Amateur journalism: Anyone who wishes to share knowledge or discuss a particular subject can take on the role of being an analyst, reporter, and columnist. Many fashion writers, who showcase their personal style, play `model’ for their blogs. All that a blogger needs are a passion for writing and access to the Internet in order to become a publisher. You don’t have to show any degree certificate or get a recommendation from anyone. If like-minded people endorse your blog, you will gain authority and credibility.
Types of blogs3:
Blogs are of different types. They vary in many ways — recognized by the kind of content, owners (owned by an individual/ couple, group, corporate), and the type of device used.
Specific-topic blogs: These are blogs that focus on a certain topic such as political, social, travel, fashion, music, arts, business, literature and parenting and so on. These are blogs written by an individual or a team on various subjects of interest. This genre of independent blogs was chosen as samples for the study as they are aimed at sharing knowledge and have implications on online audience.
Personal blogs: This is a kind of digital diary or commentary by an individual. Extremely detailed blogging takes place reflecting one’s life. That’s the reason why these kinds of blogs have not been included for evaluation in the present study.
Corporate blogging: Companies use blogs for communication with employees and investors and they are always positive with a ‘feel-good’ look about the firm. Corporate blogs are used to develop communication within an enterprise or for external purposes of marketing, public relations or branding. Since the purpose is purely business-oriented, these blogs were not taken as samples for the present study.
Media-type blogs: These are blogs defined by the media devices used. Video blogs are called vlogs (some writers who run regular blogs include a section called vlogs by clicking which a visitor can watch videos, for instance, http://ankionthemove.com has such a provision); blogs that comprise of links are called linklogs; those with a portfolio of sketches are known as sketch blogs; those that contain only photographs are called photoblogs (http://arunsnap.blogspot.in and http://indianfunpic.com are examples of such blogs evaluated in the present study); and those that use audio device are called podcasting. Blogs with short texts and mixed media types are known as tumblelogs.
Blogs and advertising:
Once blogs get traffic, they typically attract advertisers and most bloggers accept advertising for financial assistance. Most blogs feature banner advertisements, some blogs post sponsored reviews (of books or products) and promotional content, either to financially benefit the blogger, support website hosting costs (many hosting sites offer free service) or to promote the blogger’s favorite causes or products. The popularity of blogs has given rise to “fake blogs” created by companies as a marketing tool to promote their products.
Many famous travel bloggers have tie-ups with big hotels and travel agencies who finance their travel and boarding expenses besides featuring advertisements. In recent years, prominent travel blogs even have media sponsors. Sankara Subramanian, owner of the travel blog – Be On The Road, has hailed blogging as “a powerful medium which has given me appreciation in mainstream media, tourism boards, travel companies and much more. In simple words, it is my brand and it represents me and my style of travel.”
The general perception is that bloggers enter the field out of passion to write and share their experiences and leave midway as updating the blog consistently with fresh content is a rigorous exercise. Those who have stayed for years together are the ones who have tasted success in blogging – either in terms of money or fame or both.
Is blogging journalism?
The Wikipedia.org site has placed blog under Journalism category. Many journalists, columnists, writers, scholars, and students of journalism have taken to weblogging to express their views. A senior journalist from Mysore, Krishnaprasad who started the blog https://churumuri.wordpress.com in March 2006 is credited with providing exclusive news on transport businessman Vijay Sankeshwar’s bid to sell Vijayanand Printers Limited (VPL) which published Vijaya Karnataka, Vijay Times and Usha Kirana newspapers, in May 2006.
“A blog is a personal viewpoint, very often informal and not bound by the classic writing structure that journalism school teaches us. It could be as free-flowing or structured as its author chooses it to be. They exceed the remit of a news piece by becoming invaluable online resources, pooling in supplementary data on the topic by way of hyperlinks, pictures, diagrams, and references. Most times, space constraint and format do not allow everything to be tucked into a news article,” Subhra Priyadarshini4 pointed out.
In a study, Kristina Sedeke (2012) stated that blogging is a new form of online journalism though critics raise objections on the contention that blogs lack proper journalistic practices that guarantee quality and credible reporting.
Since most MSM journalists have switched on to the SM to not only announce breaking news but also to interpret stories, it would be unfair to overlook or downplay the role that blogs play in shaping the mindset of the online audience.
T K Ganesh5 has stated, “the advent of blogs is one of the dramatic manifestations of the impact of media technology on news distribution. Becoming a journalist is as easy as starting a website and uploading one’s opinions.” He has cited many reasons as to why blogging is journalism in the 21st century. According to him, bloggers have taken over as the watchdogs of both the government and the mainstream media. Bloggers circle around media websites, often criticizing and commenting on news stories and correcting errors even before the printed versions have hit the newsstands or the electronic versions have zipped through the airwaves. He had found that bloggers are outscooping the traditional media, providing in-depth commentary and diverse viewpoints and pointing out media errors. “They will become even more influential in shaping political and cultural ideology. Anyone equipped with a digital video camera and special software can produce his or her own vlog (videolog) which have the potential to tackle television journalism,” he added.
Blogs are akin to debates on current affairs telecast during prime time by television channels. While news channels involve a small panel of members analyzing, defending and criticizing some eventful occurrence, a blog is an interpretation of a blogger about the latest incident in a specific arena that evokes like-minded people to read and react.
- G., S. S. (2017). Usage of blogging for effective Communication an evaluation.
- Digital Media and Weblog Journalism first edition: pg 243.
- “Role of blogs in building digital communities: A study” by Shakuntala G Soratur & M Gangadharappa, published in Media & Communication in Sustainable Development.
- Science blogging in India, Current Science, published on July 17, 2013.
- Digital Media: Building the Global Audience, a book published in 2008.