Journalism is just one of the many industries facing a time of upheaval and tumult due to the rise of the internet and the challenge of adapting news stories to work and flourish on this new platform. Blogging is becoming an increasingly popular activity, and offers a less formal, more conversational way of presenting and understanding affairs in the news.
Feminism is facing its own challenges in the 21st Century, with a recent resurgence of the 3rd Wave placing a heavy focus on redressing the way the news is interpreted and understood by society. Could feminism and blogging combine into a force that has the capabilities to shape the future of journalism?
BLOGGERS BLOGGING ON BLOGS IN THE BLOGOSPHERE
The blog is the internet’s answer to eighteenth-century salons, with entire websites like WordPress (http://www.wordpress.com/) and tumblr. (http://www.tumblr.com/) dedicated to giving anyone with internet access their very own corner of the World Wide Web. But what exactly is blogging, and what could it mean for journalism now and in the future?
The term blog itself was first used in 1999 by a man called Peter Merholz, and is a shortened version of the term web log (often written weblog) which was coined by Jorn Barger in 1997. A blog is, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “a web site that contains online personal reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer.”
Blogging as we know it today began after 9/11, as observed by the late Catherine Seipp, an American media critic and writer – “In general, ‘blog‘ used to mean a personal online diary, typically concerned with boyfriend problems or technical news. But after September 11, a slew of new or refocused media junkie/political sites reshaped the entire internet media landscape. Blog now refers to a web journal that comments on the news often by criticizing the media and usually in rudely clever tones, with links to stories that back up the commentary with evidence.” Eddy Hood at Ignite Spot (http://www.ignitespot.com/) compiled a very detailed infographic on blogging in 2013 which shows, among many other things, that blogging website Blogger (http://www.blogger.com/) gets over 46 million unique hits each month, and that 77% of internet users in the U.S. read blogs; the majority of whom are female.
WordPress breaks down blogging into 9 main categories, including: Personal blogs, or blogs that include content about “personal topics like politics, music, family, travel, health, you name it.”; Business blogs, blogs that are run by companies that have “discovered the power of blogs to personally engage with their customers.”; Non-profit blogs, that are run by “foundations, charities, and human rights groups,” and; How-to blogs, that are full of “tips and reviews about cooking, games, music, books, movies, and so on.” WordPress also features a list of prohibited types of blogs – namely those that plagiarise content and provide access to illegal downloads of music, movies, and the like.
A quick Google search (http://www.google.com.au/) for the term “blog websites” pulls up almost 1.8 billion results, the first page of which containing mostly blogging websites, or articles about which blogging websites are the best and why.
The rise of citizen journalism in the early 2000s could possibly be contributed to the popularity of blogs and blogging. It has been noted that the one important thing that distinguishes blogging from other news platforms is that the blog content is always created with an audience in mind. Blogging is very community-based, with most bogging websites enabling users to repost (or ‘reblog’) the original post to their own blog, adding any comments or questions they may have for the author at the bottom of the post. This ability to converse over the content published plays an important role in making sure that people are held responsible for what they say in their posts. It is this interactive feature of blogging that in its own way creates a sense of activism and awareness within many circles of the internet.
THE THIRD WAVE OF FEMINISM AND THE FEMINIST BLOGGER
The third wave of feminism began in the 1990s and is, these days, a “creature of many faces”. Long gone are the notions of bra-burning and extremely hairy women preaching a hatred of men, the modern feminist seamlessly blends in with society, subtly reminding us why feminism is still important and that equality has still, in 2014, not been achieved. In an online survey conducted for this report, 22 of 32 participants considered themselves feminist. All 32 people who partook in the survey claimed to support the fight for equality and considered it an important struggle.
As an activism movement, feminism and its feminists need a way to spread their message of equality to the masses – blogging presents an ample opportunity to do so. In the ‘About’ section of their website, Feministing (http://feministing.com/) states that the community aspect of their site exists to “exist to better connect feminists online and off, and to encourage activism.” Most feminist blogs and websites visited for this report stated similar things, with the editor at The Vagenda (http://vagendamagazine.com/) calling the magazine and subsequent blog a “gigantic NO” whose intentions are to “rip the piss out of the mainstream female press.”
This dressing down of mainstream and mainstream female press is a common occurrence in the blogging world. By calling out corporations and individuals on what they’ve said or done and pointing out why it was wrong, a sense of accountability and responsibility is created and awareness is spread. Feminist news website Jezebel (http://jezebel.com/) is known for their questioning of the media and popular opinion to the point where users of the blog section of the website have started doing the same thing. A user created a post after the highly controversial Game of Thrones episode ‘Breaker of Chains’, using the episode as evidence that rape culture is still fervent in our twenty-first century society. The post addressed comments on a post from another blog (http://tealeavesdogears.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/how-rape-culture-helps-people-excuse-last-nights-game-of-thrones/) that viewed the episode in the same light, explaining how the very nature of comments like “Saying no, while responding favorably, kind of takes the meaning of the word away from it.” are harmful to the feminist plight of equality and perpetuate rape culture on a day-to-day basis. Posts like this are not unique in their existence,
Cait Ronken 2014
Journalism (Responses) (.pdf spreadsheet of responses compiled for data from a survey I conducted online)