What does the term connectedness mean for you? I bet it depends on a couple of things. Possibly your age, your gender, your profession, your online literacy, your education, your social media usage, to name a few. My mom may speak of connectedness in terms of the people around her, whereas I may refer to the broader connection to the world through the Internet. Rettburg discusses these inconsistencies in his third chapter titled, “Blogs, Communities, and Networks.” He then expands the conversation further to include marketing and its impact on the online blogging community in his fifth chapter, “Blogging Brands.”
“Blogs, Communities, and Networks,” as the title suggests, emphasizes the connectedness of the Internet on the broader spectrum. When I post on my blog or my Facebook page or Twitter feed, I am usually thinking solely about myself or my immediate community of family and friends that may be interested in what I have to say. Rettburg shifts this thinking to include the reality of the digital world and the way it links people. Even if only my close friends read my blog, they may share it with their friends, who will share it with their friends, and so on. Or, I may refer to a friend’s blog or social media site, creating another opportunity for new people to connect with one another.
An interesting point Rettburg mentioned focused on the ideas of danah boyd, who deliberately does not capitalize her name. This simple fact caught my eye, so I chose to look into it deeper here on her website. She says that the capitalization of names and of the first person singular pronoun “I” seems self-righteous. Although I like the idea of using her name as an image of humility, I got the sense that it was more as a way to label herself in a way that stood out from the crowd. Sorry, I got distracted. I have always been interested in and passionate about names, because I think they can tell stories and define and create and inspire. But, that’s a side note from a girl with a weird name. Alright, back to the world of blogging now.
boyd identifies four main characteristics to distinguish the online space from the traditional offline one:
- Persistence—the information you enter does not go away.
- Searchability—people can find you.
- Replicability—information can be altered so there is no way to tell it apart from the original.
- Invisible Audiences—you don’t always know who is viewing your online content.
These four aspects of the online world can cause great harm, but that is precisely why I found them important to share. Because then maybe a friend will share it with another friend who will share it with another friend, and so on. These risks should always be in the forefront of our mind when adding our own voice to this crazy, mixed-up, dangerous world of digital media.
Moving on to the second reading, “Blogging Brands,” Rettburg emphasizes how blogs can be used in marketing. Using the words of The Cluetrain Manifesto, “Markets are conversations.” As long as the conversation is honest and transparent, blogs can be used to market products and/ or services to the larger public. Blogs have provided a place for consumers to communicate and have open conversations about products. Rettburg makes the point that as people spend more time online, they spend less time in other forms of media. How would you be successful selling something to a market that is not there? Companies have to be moving to the Internet simply because that is where the people are. Trevor Cook argues that blogs finally free corporations to speak directly to consumers, rather than having to always go through the media (Cook 2006).
There are a number of ways to make money via blogging, such as ads or PayPerPost, but the problem remains of how to keep bloggers accountable for their words. In an unregulated business, with often unclear motives and a mixture of influences, readers are left to question whether what they are reading was written with integrity.
“As The Cluetrain Manifesto asserted, honest conversation and the human voice are at the heart of successful blogging” (Ruttberg, 154).
The answer to the question posed to us today relies heavily on this issue of integrity and transparency on the Internet. Is BuzzFeed journalism? With an unclear idea in mind, I decided to see what Google had to say about this question… Well it referred me to BuzzFeed articles, such as 31 Undeniable Truths That Journalism Majors Can All Agree On or 22 Things Journalists Know To Be True. But, it did not provide me with a clear answer to my question. So I decided to look deeper into the question itself. What exactly is BuzzFeed and what exactly is journalism? The “about” page of Buzzfeed.com says, “BuzzFeed is the social news and entertainment company. BuzzFeed is redefining online advertising with its social, content-driven publishing technology. BuzzFeed provides the most shareable breaking news, original reporting, entertainment, and video across the social web to its global audience of more than 150M.” And referring back to my previous blog, “Journalism alone is focused first on getting what happened down right” (Kovach and Rosenstiel, 71). So, with these two definitions, I do not believe BuzzFeed is journalism. I believe BuzzFeed is more focused on the entertainment value, rather than the credibility of their news or content. Seeing as the first line on their about page refers to BuzzFeed as “a social newsand entertainment company” tells me that their main focus is not journalism.
The founder of BuzzFeed, Jonah Peretti, may, however disagree with me…
What do you think? Is BuzzFeed journalism? This blog isn’t called “Conversate with Carryl” for nothing.
Thanks for reading!