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Today's word on journalism

Friday, January 20, 2006

Variations on "truthiness":

"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please."

-- Mark Twain, author, newspaperman and humorist (1835-1910)

MENTORS WANTED: Media professionals in all fields wanted to serve as email mentors for journalism students. If interested, send email slugged "Mentors" to Ted Pease (

Got something to tell the world? Grab your keyboard and blog it

By Brianne Olsen

December 22, 2005 | In the super fast-paced world of the Internet, fads come and go faster than you can say eBay. From Amazon to online dating, every trend on the Internet has seen its 15 minutes of fame. Remember chat rooms? What about Napster? Well, ripping off Britney Spears and U2 is so five mintues ago and the newest wave to hit the web pool is a little craze called blogging.

A blog, short for webblog, is essentially a Web site for which a group or individual frequently generates pictures, commentary, audio files, video files, and text. These blogs are different from discussion forums or bulletin boards in that only the author of the blog, (the "blogger") can create new posts. While straight text and hyperlinks dominate most blogs, some blogs are created to emphasize graphics, photographs, or video, depending on the nature of the blog.

Before blogging blew up around 1997, digital communities took many forms including bulletin boards, UseNet, and e-mail lists. In the 1990s, Internet forum software created running conversations called "threads." These threads are topical connections between messages and the discussion "corkboard," which was visible and available to anyone. Soon, online diary keeping and personal webpages began popping up all over the Web as well.

In 1996, the earliest blogging site, Xanga was created. In its first year, the site hosted just 100 blogs, but by 2005, the site had registered over 50,000,000. Blogging spread by 1999 being further popularized by the launch of other host sites that offered blog templates, including which was purchased by Google in 2003. As of March 2003, Webster had included the terms and definitions of webblog , webblogging , and webblogger. Since then, the blogging revolution hasn't slowed down.

For many faithful bloggers, blogging provides an outlet for personal venting. Some blogs become almost like an online diary, allowing the entire world a glimpse into their daily lives. For some, like long-time blogger Jennifer Rauzon, blogging is theraputic.

"Blogging allows me to vent any frustration I have in my life. It gives me the chance to get my feelings on whatever I want out in the open. It's my therapy," she said.

Michelle Anderson says that blogging for her is a way to stay connected to friends and family. "It's just an easy, creative way to keep in contact with people I can't see or talk to everyday. It's better than e-mail because you can add pictures, making the blog more interesting and even entertaining."

One of the largest trends within the blogging trend are "mommy blogs." Mommy blogs are blogs created by mothers or expectant mothers, detailing the experiences of pregnancy and raising their children.

"Mommy blogs are crazy right now. It's a great way for moms and moms-to-be to interact with one another during this special, exciting, and difficult time," said Rauzon, who reads her pregnant sister-in-law's blog daily. "Its fascinating to read about the little things that they go through, like getting an ultrasound and hearing their baby's heartbeat, or just how they craved oranges all day," she added.

Blogging has become so popular, that there are even blogging conventions held annually for those die-hard bloggers looking to catch up on all the latest blogging trends, innovations and even gossip. Some blogs have become so well-known that the authors have sold advertising space on their site, allowing them to make a profit off their blog. One Salt Lake City blogger, Heather Armtrong, better known in the blogging community as Dooce, has even been featured in the New York Times.

"Dooce is probably one of the best blogs in the country. Her writing style, humor and total honesty make her blog worth reading." Says Rachel Baird, an avid blogger and fan of Armstrong. "You read her blog once and, even if you don't agree with what she says, I guarantee you will keep coming back."

But blogging has become far more influential in the past two years. With the heated Iraq War debate, political blogs have become increasingly popular. Some political blogs just carry links to various political sites, however some are much more personalized and offer harsh criticism towards certain political figures, parties or topics. Political blogs give anyone the opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns over various issues, making the platform of discussion completely open. There has even been a rise in what are called milblogs, or blogs authored by those serving in the military. With the war in Iraq, which has been labeled the "blog war", these milblogs have become an outlet for soldiers to voice their experiences.

Political blogs have even become a news source for journalists in search of public opinion. These blogs create instant commentary on any debated issue, allowing journalists a free and easy way to analysis public opinion.

Blogging has certainly claimed its mark as not only a leisurely hobby, but also a crucial role in the information gathering age. Internet fads may come and go, but it looks like blogging is here to stay. Whether it's an amateur mommy blog or a critical political blog, the fad of blogging will certainly continue to grow as long as there are people willing to talk.


Copyright 1997-2005 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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