The blogging community: Who they really arePosted: April 20, 2008
Here’s an interesting piece of writing by a columnist in the Star Online.
Before you write it off as something idiotic (since it was on the Star), read a few lines. It’s rather humourous. And if you’re a blogger, you’ll see what I mean:
Start a blog, save the world (or a party)
By A. Asohan
BLOGGERS … blah, blah, blah. There, that got your attention, didn’t it?
Let me share a secret that some of us in the mainstream media (abbreviated “MSM” these days, usually with a certain degree of distaste and disapproval) have known for years, and which some government officials are only now beginning to realise.
If you want to see an article or statement get a lot of “airplay” (pardon the archaic term) on the Internet, just say something about bloggers or blogging. Then stand back and watch the fun.
Blogging has become synonymous with alternative media, even though the latter encompasses more than just the former.
And everyone’s jumping on the bandwagon. Politicians are now according the alternative media (more accurately, the alternative electronic media) more respect, and a fair degree of fear, too, than they are the MSM.
They want to engage bloggers, have tea with them, initiate dialogues, get their feedback, whatever.
Lessons have been learned, points taken. Or have they?
Going by what certain Barisan Nasional members have said since the March 8 polls, one has to wonder if they truly see the new landscape before them.
Members are being urged to start their own blogs to counter and correct the “tens of thousands” of Opposition blogs that are arrayed against Barisan’s mere handful. These blogs would allow the coalition to reach out to those people that the MSM does not appeal to, most notably the young professionals, and get its message across.
The MSM has failed the ruling party, the new conventional wisdom goes, so the ruling party is now going to enlist the alternative media.
As a cranky and cynical journalist, it is my duty to burst this bubble. It’s not going to work. Not while you operate under a set of erroneous assumptions.
First, the blogging community isn’t a single enormous, amorphous entity that thinks alike. It’s a bunch of disparate individuals with their own ideas of what’s important and what’s true (to them). You can’t appeal to the community or engage it in its entirety. All you can do is, hopefully, identify some individuals who may be helpful to your cause and curry favour with them, with the caveat that these individuals can’t speak for the others … who will keep on doing what they have been doing anyway. If you really want to engage bloggers, read their blogs and the comments posted by their readers. This will give you a good idea of what the concerns of the rakyat are, what they think of your statements, and what issues you need to address.
Also, there aren’t “tens of thousands” of Opposition blogs. Like you, the Opposition parties had only a handful, notably by the likes of Jeff Ooi, Lim Kit Siang, Tony Pua, Chegu Bard, and a few others.
All those others? They aren’t Opposition blogs. They’re the blogs of the people of Malaysia. You know … the rakyat.
They are concerned individuals, giving their personal take on the issues that affect them. Some are insightful, others are biased; some question everything and everyone, others question everyone but a former prime minister; some are balanced and objective, others wear their hearts on their sleeves.
Just because they disagree with or criticise you does not make them “Opposition” blogs. Labelling them thus gives the impression that you’re not really listening to the people of Malaysia.
Finally, there is the Umno leader who said that the Opposition had the unfair advantage of the Internet and texting, while Barisan had only the MSM – print publications, radio, and TV. You know, media that reaches out to just about every Malaysian, as opposed to media that is reaching out to an ever-increasing but still comparatively small number of Malaysians. No wonder you lost so many seats, huh?
Here’s some news for you: The MSM was more than equal to the task of getting your message across to just about every Malaysian out there. Verily, wearily … Malaysians got your message. They just didn’t buy it.
You want to counter all that criticism on the Net? Easy: don’t give people any ammunition. Don’t say stupid things, don’t release ill-conceived statements, don’t contradict yourself, don’t harp on issues that only you seem concerned about.
Malaysians are not stupid. They’ve never been stupid. They’ve always criticised. In the old days, they did it in barbershops, taxis, and at the mamak stalls. Now they do it on the Internet. Perhaps I’m being uncharacteristically optimistic but I think the Malaysian people have reached a new stage in their process of self-realisation.
They prefer progress to development; they want to enrich themselves rather than just gather wealth; they want to improve their quality of life, not just adopt the latest lifestyle; they want to be heard, not just be spoken to.
And here’s the kicker. If you really were adapting to the new media, nothing of what I’ve said above would be news to you. Bloggers have already covered this ground.
Original article here.
Cool piece of writing, and how very true. The politicians from BN might do very well to read this, and ponder hard and deep. It’s not too difficult to understand. A. Asohan has made it quite clear who the bloggers are. It’s the rakyat. So before they go on another rampage claiming that there are so many bloggers out there who are against the BN, they probably want to look themselves in the mirror and wonder why these bloggers, who have no ties with any political party, are shooting daggers at them.