Branding me, branding you

November 30, 2008 at 5:07 pm (branding) (, , , , , , )

Branding is an increasing trend and more important for companies in our ever increasing cosumerist society-even despite a recession (speaking of which I was in Queeen Street, Cardiff, today and I can see no signs of a recession in the way people were buying!). In fact branding could possibly be more important now the economy is hitting us hard, after all, brand loyalty is a powerful thing. If we look at the most successful brands in the world-Coca Cola, Nike and McDonald’s being three that spring to mind, they have all stayed the strongest  brands for decades now, despite a recession or a boom.

But now brands are moving futher than sports products and food and drink. They are moving to journalism. And we, as student journalists were told by Rick Waghorn, creator of, that in order to keep our standard of journalism safe in a trade that is currently unstable in its traditional values, we need to become a brand.

Looking at successful journalist brands like Robert Peston Charlie Brooker and Martin Lewis, then it looks easy. But can small individual student journalists who are just starting out really develop themselves as a brand? In my opinion, no. The main reason these people all became brands was becase they were already successful. The public were already aware of their talents, and their brand developed through recognition and years of hard work to establish themselves as household names. As individul jounalists we do not have the resources or the publicity to define ourselves as a brand.

Example of Robert Peston speaking on the BBC.

Don’t get me wrong, I would love for my name to have such power behind it that merely mention of it attracts an audience of thousands to see what magnificent words I have put to paper were, but if I’m completely unknown people are not going to be interested.

To become a massive brand as a journalist there also needs to be the right settings and circumstances. I doubt many people beyond the financial gurus and news junkies could name Robert Peston and exactly what he did before the credit crunch kicked in, but now he is instantly recognised and his blog is a massively powerful tool. It was questioned during Rick Waghorn’s lecture whether his brand would be powerful enough for people to follow him beyond the BBC, I personally think it would. If he kept up the quality of journalism and sources, then of course he would be followed.

Having the BBC behind him admittedly does help, but Martin Lewis managed to branch out on his own with his money saving expert website and is now hugely popular. Again the circumstances of money being tight for many people due to the recession has also helped him a great deal.

But it is doubtful that the little guy could really become a brand without the support of the ‘big’ guys in the industry and without some kind of prevous recognition. Perhaps a negative view, but one that I think is realistic in a world where there are so many ‘journalists’ writing on the web, whether trained or not, and you need to have something behind you if you are going to be able to sucessfully brand yourself.


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Breaking the boundaries and breaking the law

November 23, 2008 at 4:02 pm (new age journalism) ()

The world of journalism is a more open one; it is one that has become more accessible to everyone who has access to the internet.

Blogging has really thrown journalism into a spin. It has made traditional journalists panic that their trade is at stake and put them into a state of fear if they feel they cannot keep up with the changing pace in technology. The Bivings Report highlighted these fears in its article on newspaper and provided suggestions for what newspapers need to be doing to keep up with the pace of the internet.

However, the problem with the proliferation of blogging among member of the public is that it is a risky business. Shane Richmond says that the key to successful blogging is to find a niche and make you blog different in some shape or form. But what if this niche is a dangerous one, where people end up putting false information out there, or break the law through libel? Or even, in the extremist level, they are aggressive and make threats that are deemed to be dangerous.

Most members of the public are not aware of media law and do not know what can be defined as libel or slander. This makes it easy to create content that breaks these laws, and affect people’s reputations. In some cases, this content is more dangerous than what is published in a newspaper, as the internet it quicker, available to be seen by more people and can be seen by users all over the world.

And media laws are not the only laws that can be broken through the increasing use of publication by the public on the internet. Laws regarding threatening behaviour can be broken so easily, whether it is plausible that it could be carried out in real life or not.

Over the past couple of months, there have been two cases which have caught my eye, that show the dangers of the internet, one related to blogging, and one related to social networking.

The first case is the case of Darryn Walker, who threatened to rape and murder Girls Aloud. Some may put it down to harmless comment on the internet, but looking at the content, it does not appear that harmless. The man who wrote it may not have wanted to actually carry out the acts he described, but that does not make it any less threatening. He also seemed to have misplaced the power of the internet; how many people it could reach and how seriously some of the readers would take it.

The second one is more sinister. This case involves a mother, whose daughter had fallen out with her friend, 13 year old Megan Meier. She signed onto msn, pretending to be a young boy and made a relationship with the girl, and then started to send her abusive messages. Megan then committed suicide after her online relationship ended.

I’m not saying that the increase in social networking and blogging is a bad thing. Generally, I am in favour of it. It provides people with a voice and allows us to get a different perspective of things. But I think we need to keep in mind that, as with most things, it is open to abuse. It can be very dangerous and we need to be wary of the content that is given to us

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You won’t stop the children of the revolution…

November 16, 2008 at 6:07 pm (Uncategorized) ()


The revolution is here! ‘Hooray!’ I hear you cry, which is likely to be followed by a look of confusion. ‘What revolution?’ Well, as strange as it may sound to those under the age of 30, the revolution to which I refer is the internet.

This may have confused you even more. You are not alone; I hadn’t considered myself to be in a revolution either. I always associated revolutions with particular characters in history, Che Guevara, Henry VIII, Martin Luther. Or with particular period in history, the industrial revolution, the French revolution, or the revolution of communication, beginning with the printing press in 1440.

Growing up with the internet meant I always assumed it had just been there. Of course, I knew that it hadn’t existed much past my first few years after birth, but I never really realised its potential or how it had been developing.

That is until I started looking at it more closely. I was one of those people who used to internet very superficially, just for msn (which was then taken over by my facebook addiction) and maybe to look up something for my school homework. It did not stretch further than that.

And that may not have been a bad thing. I was just an example of how the web can be used as a social tool. In fact, I was just using it for its desired purpose. The web was designed to be social and now people like me are stealing it back. I use the internet for many things now, but I still return to my roots and use social networking, and I am just one of the nearly 200 million members that do this.

The people are taking the internet back from corporations who have used if for profiteering. And why shouldn’t they have used it for this purpose? They saw a chance and seized it. But the balance was wrong and now it is shifting back to a slightly more even playing field. Joe Trippi, in his book, The Revolution will not be Televised, argues this, and says that the internet is being passed back to the people and will create a grassroots model for revolution.

Looking at it now, I am beginning to comprehend just what significance the internet has had over the last two decades and how it will continue to expand and change the ways in which we behave and work. It is a revolution, and we are only in the beginning stages. As with many revolutions previous to this one, no one can be sure of what the outcome will be or when it will be. But when it comes, I hope it will have been worth the wait. As for now, I am looking forward to it, and enjoying what we have currently, a tool that is beyond comprehension for many of us, but one which brings us power and communication that we would not otherwise have at our disposal.

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Campaign for change…by politicising the internet

November 9, 2008 at 4:39 pm (new age journalism) (, )

Source Flickr user Mykl Roventine

While doing my best to try to stay awake past the 2am spot to watch the US election, I realised how far the world of blogging had come. No, I didn’t have some kind of vision that showed me the power of the internet but it was a comment from one of the presenters that started the wheels turning. They mentioned that not only had it been the most expensive and long-drawn election, but that it had been the biggest internet based election, with blogs, twittering and all sorts of other vast internet tools that are beyond my knowledge having been used in the campaigns and media reports.

Blogs were used all over the world, by both the media and the public, and played a massive role in shaping the direction of the election. Just a few examples were the Spectator, the Guardian and the BBC. You only have to log into word press to see that the hot topic in the latest blogs, including this one (ironic I know) are about the election.

One of the main things about this hub of internet political participation is that it is probably not the first, and it will definitely not be the last time that this will happen. It just so happens that because the election was such a huge event all over the world that people really stood up and took notice of how much blogging was really going on. I can’t say I wasn’t surprised either, I hadn’t really considered how many people out there were blogging and using it, not only to push their own stories about their lives or their interests but to push political voting and campaigning. If you type ‘US election blogs’ into google you get 37,900,000 results. Obviously some may not be as relevant as others, but it is an indication in itself of how much activity is out there.

As for twitter, that was being used as a kind of mini blog with constant streaming and updating. The BBC used twitter to keep everyone up to date and other websites such as the Guardian used it to made people aware of new blogs on the election. And it was not just used for the results. Barack Obama was praised for his campaign team’s use of the internet to connect with voters that otherwise he would be unable to, as seen in the video below.

The only problem is that I was told this week that blogs needed to be interesting. I wasn’t sure what to make of this remark. Obviously, your blog has to interest someone, or it is never going to be read, and an entirely self indulgent blog is not particularly pleasant to read either. But surely what makes a blog interesting is completely subjective? If I take the example of pig farming, something I’m not particularly interested in myself, but something like this blog (about farming), I’m sure other pig farmers would find interesting.It’s difficult for decide what makes a good blog, and both the writer and the reader are being entirely subjective. However, as long as there is a variety of opinions and topics out there, and I can only see it growing, then there is going to be something to interest everyone.

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Power to the people

November 2, 2008 at 4:06 pm (new age journalism) ()

Journalism and the way that we may have envisaged the profession in the past no longer exists. Power has now reached the public in ways that has not been seen before and a new age of influence has arisen.

This debate between Jimmy Wales and Andrew Keen make some of the major an very interesting points on the developments of new technology and the effect on modern journalism.

They highlight the issue of the effect of advertising of newspapers, which is leading to the decline as well as the impact on user generated content. Journalists are worried, and perhaps they should be, as newspapers are going into decline, a frightening prospect if they are not willing to adapt and change with progressive techonology.

It may seem like the journalists are no longer in control, the blanace of power has shifted and those that once may have been ignored are not sitting in the contol seat. I would agree that there has been a shift in power, but I think there is still a difference in the quality of output between citizens and the public and journalists are still needed. As they say in this debate “it is in our hands.”

The perception of a loss of control and the rise in the use of the internet by consumers is risky for both journalism and companies. Journalists now feel the pressure to make their work better, which is not a bad thing, competition can be an advantage. Companies now have to make sure their projects are better quality as one review on the internet can have so much power and influence that their whole reputations could be at stake. Dell computer company was a victim of this when news of their exploding batteries was spread around the internet so quickly that their reputation was damaged within days.

Now that 60% of people who have the internet are using social networking sites, so their words and opinions can stretch further than before to far more people. Myspace has more than 100 million users monthly around the world, and Facebook has 60 million with a 3% increase every week.

Tom Schmidt argues that the internet is nothing unless used creatively by both the public and by corporations and the media to keep their integrity.  He says disruptive technology creates new opportunities despite threatening the status quo. This is true, and proves the point that the organisations that will survive are the ones who use the internet to their advantage.

Activists are a particular example of those who have benefited from these developments. Organisations such as Greenpeace have used it to their advantage. Through internet communication Greenpeace have become a major publisher and their influence is bigger than it could have been through traditional campaigning.

The faster technology has become, the faster news has also become. We no longer have to wait for the news or tomorrow’s newspapers to find out about an event, stories can be broken on the internet where the public have instant access and can also participate in it. Robert Preston’s blog is a great example of this, as he uses his blog to break news stories which then allows him to dictate the news agenda for the rest of the day, showing how powerful a blog can be.

However there are always drawbacks. Blogs are not regulated and do not have editors amending them before they are published. This can lead to misinformation and therefore can be a dangerous medium.

As with all developments, the internet has its pro’s and con’s. The future of what it can do for the media is yet to be seen, however, if the pro’s outweigh the con’s it would be hard to argue that it is a bad thing.

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