I’ve always thought that leaving Malaysians to sort out their own devices in regards to anything would always be the better idea. I mean if you accidentally blew up your own nuclear reactor because you didn’t know which buttons to press, chances are you’re going to learn a lot from those little boo-boo’s (if you actually survive a nuclear meltdown that is). This one however, I will talk about only because you can’t talk about it and because other people deserve to know it as well.
To those that don’t know (or rather don’t care), MoNSTerBlog is one of the Malaysian media’s idea for joining the rest of the internet, specifically the blog reading generation in order to, and I quote “go beyond the traditional print edition and to provide a holistic package to readers”. Their plan was relatively simple. Get some of the most read bloggers in the Malaysian Blogosphere and have them blog for the paper with the revenues generated being shared amongst the participants.
To me the plan is relatively doomed to failure. Not because only a small percentage of the Malaysian public are actually interested in blogs. Not because there is a general consensus among the public that the current Malaysian government controls the media that owns this blog. Not because putting different bloggers to blog for a reputed newspaper will inadvertently result in each blogger’s self interest from the possibility of increased readership to their own blogs.
But because a lot of Malaysian bloggers give themselves far too much credit.
Let’s take a bigger example of this picture. I read Bloggermann on a constant basis which is basically Keith Olbermann’s commentary “blog” on NBC. I wouldn’t call it a true blog per say because it lacks one of the 9rules blog definition criteria which is the ability for readers to interact. Yet, I would still call it a better success than MoNSTerBlog. Why? Well it’s certainly not about the topics that are being presented.
It’s just that when you’re blogging as yourself. You are the voice of your own blog. It’s that sense of personal expression that defines the identity in which readers can relate your blog as. When readers read “Footsteps in the Mirror“, I don’t expect them to see other people, other bloggers or even other facets from other people. I expect them to see me because this is my personal blog and this is where my personal self expression and perspective has free reign.
Now take it further as a business model. You have a product. You blog about the product. Do you expect people to hear unrelated personal stories or unrelated hearsay from other people? Of course not. You would expect to hear about whatever you’re offering, the product, the package. Blogs from the media like Bloggermann or the Wall Street Journal are related to of what they are all about. It gives them their blog identity. It gives them their focus and it gives them their readers.
What’s MoNSTerBlog’s “holistic package”? I have absolutely no idea. I haven’t the slightest clue on what they are focusing on except for the sparse and sporadic commentaries on what goes on the front page. I don’t know if they are affiliated with the publication or just a group blog that’s held together with duct tape. I see the personal self expression that comes from the individual bloggers, but that’s because I see the blogs that they write prior to being part of this newspaper blog. What identity is left that defines MoNSTerBlog for what it is, isn’t about the newspaper, but the fractured persona of all the individual bloggers put together.
So was this just another attempt by the media to get into the blogging bandwagon? Without a doubt. Do they expect this to work? I would give them more credit than that to realize that this is not going to go anywhere anytime soon at the rate its going. See while I might not know how newspaper journalism works, I do know how blogs live. Newspapers and even bloggers need to understand that the personal identity behind the blog is always what the blog is suppose to represent. The voice, the face, the persona has to reflect the product whether its you as a person or a media industry…with the scrutiny of the public at hand. Without it, blogs are nothing more than the random “me too” parking spaces you find out there.
So when someone says that maybe there is something wrong with this picture, especially when they have been working in the business for a long time, maybe they have a point. When you say that you love the personal attention enough that you inadvertently admit that you don’t write well enough to be paid for a newspaper blog, maybe I have a point to say about the way things work at that blog. When they try and turn things around by throwing things back at people with personal comments in defense of themselves, maybe there is no real professional identity for the blog save for personal commentaries that’s best left at your own blog.
So when people don’t get paid to blog, maybe it isn’t because they are good or not. It’s because blogs reflect an owners personal sense of worth. For the media that caters to the public that would make sense. For the individual blogger who caters to ourselves? Even if they are bunched up together under the media spotlight. Do you really think we’re worth anything?