What is blogging?

by Jason Preston on April 1, 2008

Blogger vs The LedeThe term “blogging” has become so loose and generalized that it hardly carries much meaning anymore. “Blog” means everything from i09 to Perez Hilton to Silicon Alley Insider to Robert Scoble to The Lede to the Huffington Post to what I do at the Blog Business Summit.

Clearly, this space needs some definition.

The problem is rooted in the fact that a blog has always been a medium that can be used for a whole variety of things rather than a product, the same way that paper is just paper unless you put something on it. And yet we’ve always treated blogging like a product.

Do you blog?

Why yes I do. Do you paper?

As newspapers explore new forms of publishing, I think it’s important that for everyone’s sake, we draw some distinctions around the types of content that can be found in the blogosphere (what a crap term. Oh well, here come some more).

Mediablogs

The easiest way to define a mediablog is to show you Engadget. A Mediablog is a blog that is itself a media property – often relying on ad revenue from networks like Federated Media and Google AdSense, or the sales made by their own ad team.

These blogs are high in volume, low in depth, and they are often written by a team of bloggers. Reporting means conducting QnA interviews and relaying pictures, tidbits, and stories from conferences or other blogs. Individual entries are rarely, if ever, edited for content before being posted.

A mediablog is written purely for profit. For better or for worse, the editorial is tied inextricably to the income, and posts are written for the pageviews.

Examples of mediablogs are:

Journoblogs

If a blog is written by a reporter at a major newspaper, you can be fairly certain it is a journoblog. Journoblogging is set apart from mediablogging by various carryovers from classical journalism: an editor must usually approve posts before they go live, rumors are not to be reported, full rights must be acquired before an image can be included, sources must be confirmed.

In other words, a journoblog involves some serious aspects of classical journalism.

Most importantly however, a jounoblog does not have to come from a classical journalistic institution. Any blogger or group of bloggers can produce a journoblog if they keep to a higher set of journalistic standards in their writing.

Examples of Journoblogs are:

Toplogs

I would consider Eat Sleep Publish to be a toplog. I don’t have the discipline or the editors to legitimately call myself a journoblogger.

A toplog is a blog focused on a particular topic and written by any number of bloggers. While toplogs usually don’t sport the pure effluence of posting that mediablogs do, the chief difference between the two of them is that a toplog is not part of a media organization.

Usually you won’t find a lot of original reporting on toplogs, although you might find a lot of original thought.

Examples of toplogs are:

Company blogs

Company blogs are written by one or more person on behalf of a business (and usually, these people are employees).

Company blogs can be CEO Blogs, individual employee blogs, or team blogs, and they are wonderfully effective PR tools. Microsoft in particular has an excellent track record of encouraging its employees and teams to blog.

Examples of company blogs are:

Personal blogs (blogs)

Many bloggers write in multiple places. I keep a personal blog at Jason-Preston.com. Almost everything at Livejournal is a personal blog.

A personal blog is similar to a toplog, except that the focus of the blog is about the person writing it, rather than about any external topic. Personal blogs therefore vary widely in importance depending on who is writing. Jeff Jarvis’ personal blog matters quite a bit, whereas “Gern Blanston’s Personal Drivel” doesn’t matter at all.

Examples of personal blogs are:

And that’s it for my list.

Other types of blogging, such as photoblogging, podcasting, and artblogging, are all distinctions of content rather than distinctions of style. You can fit any of those definitions into any of these definitions.

I think it’s important (and so does Mark Cuban) that trusted news brands make sure to distinguish their blogging from toplogs and mediablogs especially, because distinguishing your content is likely to be the key to making money with it going forward.

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