New media, blogging and podcasts
Chances are if you spend anytime online you read weblogs. If you don’t, you surely know someone who reads them. You might even know someone who has one. If you don’t, congratulations. You are impervious to new media and obviously possess some form of magical powers.
Popular sites such as blogger.com, wordpress.com and livejournal.com have made online publication an accessible reality for anyone. Some believe that this has lessened the credibility and value of the weblog since anyone including your grandmother and nine-year-old brother can now be published. If you have something to say about your day, your hair, your partner, cat or car, you can put it online for the world to see.
Beyond the realm of daily activity rants, there is an entire world of highly successful niche blogs on the Internet with massive followings. Niche blogs are highly focused sites in which the author writes only on a single topic.
The Burrito Blog
The title says it all. This is actually a blog entirely dedicated to the hunt for the best burrito. Is there a better example of the power of niche blogging?
This unique and highly popular blog was started in 2005 by Jonah Feld to chronicle his search for the United States’ perfect burrito.
Feld has hundreds of posts commenting on burritos served at restaurants in California, Texas, Virginia, New York, Illinois, Washington D.C. and more.
Though Feld has not been maintaining the site since late 2009, The Burrito Blog is a testament to what you can do when you write about something you are passionate and knowledgeable about.
Stuff White People Like
There is a very good chance you’ve heard of this blog.
You might even own the book that was published in response to the high level of online traffic this highly satirical site attracted.
To date, SWPL has had over 63 million hits and has been featured numerous times in the news and on television specials.
Christian Lander created his blog in January 2008 and has experienced success and negative feedback for his self-conscious critique of left-wing, white, North American yuppie culture.
This success story highlights the power of new media to launch anyone’s career.
Lander reportedly received a $300,000 advance from Random House for the book version of Stuff White People Like.
It remained on the New York Times bestseller list for several months after it’s release in July 2008.
The Huffington Post
The Huffington Post is a liberal American news site that started as a blog-style news source in 2005 by Adrianna Huffington and Keith Lerer.
The site was launched in May 2005 and to this day serves as both a source and a forum for American news.
The site has a set of select editors and writers, though it boasts over 3,000 contributing bloggers.
The site’s tagline “Internet newspaper: news blog video community” highlights the shift that is occurring in the world of news from print to online media sources.
The Huffington Post is updated several times a day and offers news on business, politics, media, arts and entertainment and living among other things.
At the risk of beating a dead horse, perezhilton.com could not reasonably be excluded from an article on blogging. The hugely popular celebrity news blog was launched by Mario Armando Lavandeira, Jr. (better know as Perez Hilton) in late 2004.
Within the first six months the site (originally titled PageSixSixSix.com) was dubbed “Hollywood’s most hated blog” by the Insider, causing such a serge in traffic to the site that it crashed. In late 2009, Perez Hilton was listed as the 491st most frequented Internet website in the world.
Riding the success of his website, Perez Hilton now hosts television specials and celebrity events.
Similar to perezhilton.com, TMZ.com is an entertainment blog dedicated to keeping the world updated on the ever-pressing gossip and events occurring in the celebrity realm.
Launched in 2005, shortly after perezhilton.com, TMZ.com started as a collaboration between America Online and Warner Bros, though in 2009 Warner Bros took the site over completely.
Listed as the 620th most visited website in the world, TMZ.com has yet to outdo Perez Hilton, despite being one of the first to break the news of Michael Jackson’s death and its corporate backing.
With a tag line “the brain Mutator for higher primates,” Boing Boing is not your average blog. Unlike Stuff White People Like, this blog started as a printed publication and moved online in 1995. In 2000 it was launched as a weblog and has experienced steady success since.
A collection of various science, technology, art, culture, unusual stories and links from around the web, Boing Boing serves as an information portal for anyone interested in news with a twist.
It may sound backwards, but blogs function best when they redirect people away from the site.
This is, in part, why Boing Boing has done so well. People will always return to a site that consistently provides them with quality information and good links. Boing Boing has twice won the Bloggies for “Weblog of the Year” in 2004 and 2005 (yes, there are awards for blogs).
Boing Boing, listed as the 2,146th most popular site on the Internet, has done so well they launched Boing Boing TV in 2007, the podcast, Boing Boing Boing in 2008 and a sister blog focused on gadgets known as Off World.
Gizmodo, a successful weblog launched in 2002, focuses on consumer electronics, and by 2004 the blog was bringing in over $6,000 in revenue a month.
Gizmodo is so successful that Steve Paul Jobs, the co-founder and chief executive officer of Apple Inc., cited Gizmodo as his favourite gadget blog. The site is listed as the 475th most visited site on
the Internet and is updated frequently, regularly posting over 30 times a day.
weblog (wěb’lôg’, -lŏg’)
n: a personal Website that provides updated headlines and news articles of other sites that are of interest to the user, also may include journal entries, commentaries and recommendations compiled by the user; also called a blog.
v: To write entries in, add material to or maintain a weblog.
n: a podcast is an audio or video program formatted to be played on the iPod and made available for free or for purchase over the Internet.
new media (nu’mee-dee-uh)
n: any interactive media, esp. electronic mass media combined with computers; also, this combination as a profession.