Brackish Waters

how my gaming and life coalesce.

The brackish waters of blogging and press

The topic that Darren started last week is still one of general interest to many on the web including myself. Its hard to express how I truly feel about the topic during the podcast, because I was there to not only give my view but also take part in an exchange that can go in multiple directions at any moment. I will however attempt to do so now.

It is my opinion that Bloggers occupy a unique area of the press that is still being defined. Just the fact that we are talking about it is a sign that it still has no classification. Its hard to place bloggers in this mold when each is unique and the word press brings to mind so many definitions.

I said this before and I’ll say it again:
Recognition does not only come from within, but from others.

This is why I believe wilhelm was on the right track.
So if I chose to become an active and up-to-date blog of everything that has to do with the race of hobbits in Lord of the Rings:Online, I probably could. I could publish everything I discover in the game and cross-link this to know publications about the lore and then go into theory as to why Turbine left out table dancing as an emote and gather a large following from the community. Wouldn’t this then classify me as press in the eyes of my audience? Sure, but it will take a bit more before I might be acknowledged by Turbine or Tolkien Enterprises.

The initial question and reason it was asked (I believe) was that of why some bloggers may not receive special passes or treatment when they are believed, by the general blog-o-sphere, to be worthy of such merit.

I think the problem lies in our ability to be unpredictable and also anonymous.

If we choose to remain anonymous, I would wager that we would be less inclined to receive official accolade for anything we do or write about. Tobold believes that this is one of our strengths. I agree. That is, unless the intention of the blogger is to become part of the press we are talking about. A blogger can pine to these developers til the cows come home, but if we are not meeting their standards then the efforts are wasted.

It is my belief that the game companies will not take a chance by going with an anonymous writer, no matter how much of a following we have. If we show ourselves as we really are, we bring in true accountability. This is especially pertinent and can be particularly dangerous if we happen to be blogging about the same field in which we are employed. Firings, lawsuits, and defamation have all happened to bloggers who chose not to remain anonymous. Maybe not in the gaming world, but certainly across the internet. It appears to be a tough line to walk.

Even if we are known, we can still be very unpredictable. We could disappear for two weeks and have no repercussion except that of the stats for our blog. Our readers may understand if we put up a “sorry for /afk” message on our return, but this could really never happen with a news or official press site.

But really, could a blog about hobbits ever be known officially as press? Yes. Especially if Turbine chose to use that blog to talk to the hobbit “community”. If Turbine acknowledged them, gave them information for their players, and in doing so allowed the blog to become a source for official information about hobbits, it would definitely become a niche press blog.

Vanguard did this with their official fan-sites before the acquisition by SOE. All new information came through the mouth of these sites. They weren’t Gamespy or MMORPG.com but approved sites by Sigil and listed on their front page. The process to become a part of this affiliation required items like no gold selling banners, a good track record for stability, and a good design and layout.*  These standards are probably no different than the ones that some companies have before they decide to acknowledge the work of a blogger.

Brandon over at MMOGaming wrote:

Bloggers are the new word of mouth. They are “word of mouth 2.0.” They combine the greatest marketing influence of all, our friends, with the ability to still reach thousands upon thousands of people with the message.

This is our strength.  If you choose to use this to reach the goal of becoming part of the gaming press, then I wish the best for you.

* There may be more to this but I never ran a site or actually applied for this status. This is what I remember to be the major qualifications at the time.

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September 18, 2007 - Posted by | Blog-o-sphere, Rants

3 Comments »

  1. I agree that it’s certainly a question that’s debatable, and that many will have opinions on. I answered very briefly on my blog at the time Darren raised the question, and this was my answer:

    “…bloggers are not “press”. At least not most of us. I don’t think the answer resides with us actually, I think it resides with the MMO companies themselves. Do they see us as press or not? However inclusive (or not) they want to be in their own definition of “press” will determine whether we, as bloggers, are counted as press for things like betas, conferences, “insider trips” to dev headquarters, etc.”

    This directly goes to what you are saying, that there has to be some external recognition. In our context as MMO bloggers, that external recognition would be from developers, publishers, and other gaming sites that we probably do consider press.

    If I walk into a hospital and claim to be a doctor, even if I believe it to be so, does that make it true? No. There are educational and licensing hurdles I must have met, and the hospital must recognize my status as a doctor. Those would all be external confirmations of my status as a doctor within the context of the medical profession.

    In the context of blogging, I think it’s great if someone aspires to be press. And for some people that may become a reality. But I don’t think we really are unless the game devs, publishers, or gaming “press” think we are as well. Otherwise it just seems like wishful thinking. Is being “the press” a profession, or can it just be a hobby (as most blogging is)?

    Comment by KevinC | September 19, 2007 | Reply

  2. I think it can be both, but the latter would be one of serious dedication.

    I would imagine I could get a lot done IRL with the hours I spend playing MMOs on a nightly basis, but they are my true hobby and not one I plan to give up anytime soon.

    Thanks for the great response Kevin.

    Comment by brackishwater | September 19, 2007 | Reply

  3. *sigh* how little we think of ourselves.

    I totally disagree. Are bloggers press? YES. If they want to be! If your blog is pointed, with a position, or a purpose that informs and reference and serves to provide insight into SOMETHING, then yes, bloggers are press.

    In reality though (back down here on earth), it is true that bloggers are having a more difficult time being recognized as press. A reason for this is that corporations and legislative groups have designed the rules of credentialing individuals on a basis that meets the needs of the group covered. Another reason is fear of the unrestrained (read: unpaid) voice. Even bloggers recognize the need for “qualifying” applicants for press passes. Here is a quote from a fantastic article on the credentialing of bloggers for state legislature reporting:
    “A known, credible blogger on the floor is better (and far less dangerous) than an unknown anonymous blogger in the gallery,” Smith says. She suggests considering a blogger’s education, experience and even legislative background when deciding who is “qualified.” Bloggers deserve consideration, Smith says, if for no other reason than their power.

    http://www.ncsl.org/programs/pubs/slmag/2007/07SLJan07_Bloggers.htm

    Comment by Shaminey | September 21, 2007 | Reply


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