Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Politics of Blogging: Lifestyle Media vs. Lifestyle Bloggers

Last September 28, I talked about the politics of blogging at the Laguna Blogging Summit. It is a straight talk on surrounding issues in the blogosphere based on experience. My big hugs and congratulations to the organizers (high-five to Grace Boncad-Nicolas), speakers, and volunteers who all contributed time, effort, and resource to support that event. I will not forget my 6-hour road travel from Paniqui, Tarlac (11am) to Sta. Cruz, Laguna (5pm) all for the love of blogging.

At that talk, I shared my own idea, based on observation, on how newbie bloggers evolve to the more active ones today.

The steps can include:
photo credit: Grace Boncad-Nicolas
1. Blogger starts to blog and network (posting comments in other blogs, join contest, participate in community discussion, attend open-to-all-bloggers events)

2. Blogger meets other bloggers and interact more as they meet regularly.

3. Blogger joins an informal group or block of bloggers.

4. Blogger block start getting into politics (and gossip) about other blogging blocks. Competition set-in. More senior blogging blocks began complaining about new blogging blocks (for one reason or another - valid or not). This makes the group closer and may even form own community in the process.

5. Blogger block will start having politics on its own as some won't begin seeing each other eye to eye or some block members growing faster that they can't pull their block members along. Resulting to some sort of jealousy due to expectations ("I was tagging you along in my gig in the past.").

6. Blogger bolts out of block or block gets dissolved.

7. Blogger goes out on one's own (solo) or joins a new block or create own.

Through the years, I consider the above as a normal phase and fights among bloggers (from blogging practice, events conduct, personalities, competition, beliefs) are not new at all.

Lifestyle media versus lifestyle bloggers
However, there is another form of politics happening that concerns the blogosphere that seems to erupt from time to time. This is the media versus bloggers.

As of yesterday, I am referring to this as the lifestyle media versus the lifestyle blogger. When I mention lifestyle for the context of this blog post, I am referring to travel, beauty, home and living, recreation, food, health, fashion, etc..

What makes this segment interesting is it is sensory and a bit of status symbol. Often only to be afforded in real life by people with money to spend. If you belong to a prominent publication or blog, sample sets and expensive freebies are common.

(I recall having a mid-range watch brand manager friend who shared giving lifestyle editors a watch worth nearly P30k each at a product launch. Most of course, gave the watch a story feature.)

Then came bloggers who set themselves up in the field of lifestyle. They start writing about stuff usually from personal experience and later on participate in events. Some also get freebies.

The kicker here for me is when these lifestyle section writers start gossiping about bloggers, in blind item style, based on rumors they heard and often unvalidated. Which they don't take an effort in correcting the news later on either if found untrue. Some even dare to question a blogger's way of doing his or her business as unethical or illegal.

As most blogger attack are done without mentioning names, blind item style, the news item start appearing as generic and casting a bad image on bloggers in that beat.

I think that even before lifestyle writers start attacking bloggers and compare practices from their own perceived "highly ethical" personal standard, please, look at your industry peers first and write about them.

As I said in one article who questions a blogger for selling give-aways received, "In my observation, most bloggers don't get salaries from newspaper outlets to cover events. They have to find a way to compensate for the time and effort they spent. I'm sure if the blogger has more income than usual, that person would not sell those items. Kaya sana yung mga taga-media na may suweldo or binabayaran sa bawa't artikulong naisusulat nila kahit na halos product promotion na rin ang dating, huwag tayo basta na lang mang-husga ng kapwa."

Are we going to tolerate blind item attacks on bloggers?
So to my fellow bloggers, whether the attacks being hurled at our peers are true or not, whether we agree to it or not, it is important that we don't allow our peers to be attacked in a blind item style by these media folks for it also affect us as a whole. It is also about asking these people to take accountability to what they say and not see their newspaper columns or space as a weapon against us. Furthermore, to give the blogger, whoever is under attack, the "right to reply and defend themselves".

Note that this is not the first time this has happened. But it will keep on happening, bloggers being bullied by the media through their publication space (worst they even get paid for writing about it), if we will tolerate it.

I will not tolerate it and that is why I am speaking up.