Does studying a Communications (Journalism) degree while writing a blog mean that some days I feel like slapping myself? No, not always – but I do occasionally question if certain things are in my best interests. Sponsored posts and the recurrent subversive push to be positive can feel like it’s in direct conflict with balanced reporting and critical analysis.
My degree is not necessarily a vocational pursuit more an opportunity to learn something but backing every thirty words with a reference and being asked “what is not being said?” sits uncomfortably alongside ‘PR people are always watching’ and ‘don’t be negative’ – both reoccurring themes in the sponsored blogosphere. In the past, I’ve rationalised this conflict with “I’m learning to write copy” and only accepting pitches that remunerate in accordance to copy-writing rates.
I’m not comfortable with critical thought being silenced, particularly where women are involved. This is probably why I avoid advertising products that reassert antiquated stereotypes about housewives (gin excluded) or girls (princess and pink themed products). That doesn’t mean I am dismissive of what other people choose to advertise but it also doesn’t mean that I’m being “negative” which can often be the response when one critiques sponsored posts.
In my degree, one of the criticisms of blogging is that its influence as a conversation is limited due to an ‘echo-chamber’ – a place where agreeable comments far outweigh the disagreeable ones either due to people only reading the same blogs or because those who disagree are often flamed into submission or dismissed as trolls.
A study at the University of Illinois that focused on the world’s top 33 ranked blogs (technorati) found agreeable comments far outweighed disagreeable ones. Deeper cultural issues suggested that readers could become polarized and more entrenched in their own beliefs.
I am one of those readers who occasionally writes “great post!” but I much prefer to read things that challenge me. In a sea of positive endorsements and my own ever evolving change in attitude towards blogging and what this space even is – I’m struggling to find dissident voices. I’m becoming more discerning in what I read. I’m discovering great places, new voices – and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.
Do you ever struggle with the evolving nature of your blog?