The most influential bloggers are not the most important

Tim Ireland has written a huge post about Guido Fawkes. If you are interested in political blogging, it is a must-read.

I deleted Guido Fawkes from my blogroll a year ago following the Mark Oaten affair, and I stopped reading his blog for good a few months ago. Although I removed him from my blogroll out of disgust, the reason I never added him back on and stopped reading was because I thought that his blog had become dull. Tim Ireland offers rather more substantial reasons why you should ‘boycott’ Guido.

It has always upset me a bit that Guido Fawkes is often held up by the mainstream media as being one of the most important bloggers (if not the most important blogger) out there. Aside from a few interesting posts when he started, his blog is mostly made up of mundane attempts at kicking off a scandal or just schoolboyish giggling.

For a while now I have disliked the way that some bloggers — Guido most notably — claim to be offering an alternative to the ‘mainstream media’ even though in reality they act tabloid, talk tabloid and play all the same dirty tricks as the tabloids. Perhaps that is why the media like him so much.

But if anybody has, having been advised to do so by the media, read Guido Fawkes hoping to understand what blogging is all about… well, I dread to think what they make of us bloggers. That’s why I prefer to cite Iain Dale as an example of a leading blogger. Guido always says that his blog was never meant to be more than “tittle-tattle and gossip”. But Iain Dale strikes a much more healthy balance between gossip, analysis and campaigning.

At the same time, to call Guido Fawkes and Iain Dale “representative bloggers” is totally missing the point, as I said in a post a few days ago. As The Morningstar points out:

…we don’t so much have a political “bloggerati”, more a bunch of people with media and political connections promoting each other… Iain Dale, Guido Fawkes, Tim Worstall the Recess Monkey

This is what I meant when I said that the people who are influential in the blogosphere are the people who were already influential, or on their way to becoming influential anyway. That may be because they have good connections or maybe it is because they are particularly good campaigners in the first place. That’s why I think a lot of bloggers further down the chain are more important in many ways. Think of The Long Tail or Blogpower.

And, as Nosemonkey says:

The theory runs like this: Guido is the UK’s best-known political blogger, and is frequently cited in the press as a representative example of blogging. (Which, in itself, means that he simply isn’t. A representative blog gets around 20 hits a day, whereas Guido’s is many times that. A representative political blog would probably get between 50 and 100 visitors a day, and would usually spend much of its time on long-winded, detailed analysis of newspaper columns and/or policy announcements – something Guido has never done, that I recall.)

And here is Chicken Yoghurt.

Blogging isn’t a mass movement or hive mind. It isn’t an invention and plaything of the Right, despite what some would have you believe. It’s a wide-ranging medium like all the rest. But, right now, thanks to the likes of Guido Fawkes and complicit bone-dry, bone-headed and bone-idle journalists, the medium and his message are, almost inextricably, mashed together.

If you care about blogging, whether reading or writing, or just plain old-fashioned common decency for that matter, then read Tim’s piece, think about it and act on it.

6 comments

  1. Their self-promoting circle is holding up so far… most alarmingly among those we wish to connect with the most. This is a growing community and perception does a lot to shape it. Just as an example; look at what some mainstream political/media players are calling ‘blogs’ these days (and getting away with it).

  2. I have always found Guidos blog boring. There are so many more who cover this material in a better way. Thanks for pointing me at this post. Interesting reading.

  3. One tiny correction I’d like to make if I could:

    ” …we don’t so much have a political “bloggerati”, more a bunch of people with media and political connections promoting each other… Iain Dale, Guido Fawkes, Tim Worstall the Recess Monkey

    This is what I meant when I said that the people who are influential in the blogosphere are the people who were already influential, or on their way to becoming influential anyway.”

    Whatever media connections I have have come purely from the fact that I started blogging. Previous to my starting to share my prejudices with the universe my only connection with the newspaper industry was delivering the damn things.

    Now I will agree that I startd blogging because I wanted to make those sorts of contacts, wanted to get hired to write for pay, but blogging was the method by which I did so, not anything the other way round, my using already extant contacts to boost the blog.

    I’ve long been of the opinion that for those who wish to do so (and I agree that 99.9% of bloggers really could give a sh-t) running a blog that receives attention can be an alternative to the usual sorts of media internships. It’s worked in a way for both Oliver Kamm and Peter Briffa and I’d hope that it will continue to do so for many others.

    But I just wanted to emphasise the point that with me it was the blog that came first, those paid writing gigs coming from editors (perhaps with a little badgering as well) who read it.

  4. Like you I stopped reading Guido about a year ago and for the same reasons. His writing is dull and his content tedious. Tittle tattle is boring beyond measure. I don’t have to boycott Guido, I have other things to do with my time than read him.

  5. Good analysis. Guido isn’t a typical blog and especially not a good example of a blog. PR Week is publishing an article in February and asked me for my views on ‘most feared’ blogs in different sectors. I did cite Guido as one to be feared in the public sector. It is it’s lack of quality, ethics or any redeeming feature that makes it feared (although that’s not a term I would use about it).