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Thursday, 8 September 2011

Creating A Blog Empire To Make Money Online


The New Blogging Media

In September of 2004, the CBS News program “60 Minutes II” ran a special on President George Bush’s service in the Texas National Guard during the Vietnam War.  One of the pieces of data they displayed was a memo allegedly written by the late Lieutenant Colonel Jerry B. Killian.  As soon as the memo flashed across the screen, the New Media began an investigation that would lead to in the firing of three CBS News executives and the retirement of longtime anchor Dan Rather.

At issue was a simple question: was the memo authentic? CBS News assured the public it was, citing handwriting and document experts.  Within 24 hours, the New Media had shown that such was not the case, that the memos could not have been produced on any machine in the hands of the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam era.  The New Media quickly demonstrated that the proportional spacing of the memo and the super scripting of dates were nearly impossible to create on 1970s technology and that the layout of the memo was unlike anything produced at the time.  In short, they showed that the memo was not created on a Texas National Guard typewriter as CBS News had alleged, but was instead produced on a modern computer using Microsoft Word on its default settings and faxed or copied repeatedly to make it look old.  They showed, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the memo was a fake.

As word of the fraud spread across the internet, additional data came to the fore, questioning the use of CBS news’ acquisition and handling of the documents.  Within a week, other major news organizations began reporting on the controversy, within two weeks, CBS itself reported that they had been misled by their source concerning the origin of the memo.  Soon after, CBS brought in a former attorney general and a former president of the Associated Press to get to the bottom of the issue.  The result was a shakeup of the entire CBS news structure.

Who was this “New Media” that was knowledgeable enough about such arcane topics as super-scripting and National Guard memo layouts to shake up one of the biggest news outfits in the world in a matter of weeks?  It was a network of independent bloggers who posted their findings in real time, shared information, and tested ideas.  And their posts were followed closely by millions of readers, many of whom posted the findings on their own blogs for their own readers. As those readers shared the information with friends and colleagues, interest in the New Media, and the habit of readers looking for their news from independent sources, accelerated a climb that began when Matt Drudge reported rumors of what became the Monica Lewinski scandal several months before the Old Media whispered a word publicly about it. 

What a Blog is and what a blog is not

A good working definition of a blog is simply a journal or newsletter that is frequently updated and intended for the timely reading. It often provides opportunities for unfiltered and immediate feedback, sports an informal or even partisan attitude, and is written in a more personal style than traditional press outlets.

Blogs come in all shapes and subjects, from the maundering of troubled teen souls to displays of classical photography to breaking news and commentary. They can be online journals, locked with a password shared by a few trusted friends, or they can be page after page of source code, sharing useful and free computer programs with the world.   A blog may be an online journal tangential to a company’s main business, where users of a company’s products give feedback and ask for help.  Blogs can be hosted by single individuals, shared by teams, or produced by entire companies. They may be hosted on a dedicated blog server using fancy templates or lovingly hand-crafted in HTML on a page that resembles a bulletin board. 

But a blog is not simply a syndicated column or a newspaper that is online.  Many news outlets feature their content online and even allow readers to respond to stories.  However, the newspaper’s business does not change just because it has a new medium. Editors and writers still do the same jobs they did before the advent of online distribution; the newspaper does not view itself as any different from what it always was.

And perhaps therein lies the difference: attitude.  The newspaper sees itself as presenting all the news that’s fit to print, written by objective professionals, while the blogger sees himself as presenting a piece of his own world and his own expertise from his own perspective.  As blogs become more popular, more columnists are becoming bloggers and more bloggers are becoming professional in what they write. Perhaps in a few years, the distinction between the Old Media and the New will be irrelevant in the mind of writers; for many readers today, it already is.

The number of individual blogs has topped 20 million and readership is exploding. In fact, the trade magazine Ad Age reports that during 2005 alone, American workers will spend the equivalent of 551,000 years reading blogs, rumor sheets, and online diaries.  Hundreds of millions of readers worldwide get their news and entertainment from these independent sources, supporting their favorite bloggers through donations, link usage, and purchase of blog-related memorabilia. 

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