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Story of the Year

I've tried figure out a way to word this post without offending nearly 100% of my readers and thousands of other people, but I couldn't, so I'm just going to be blunt about it. There's a movement afoot - started by PR guru Steve Rubel - to get Time to name bloggers as its Person of the Year. My reaction? In a word, NO.
Yes, there was Rathergate, the importance of which I do not want to diminish. There was the cultural phenomenon of Iraq bloggers and Iranian bloggers. There was the unprecedented move to give bloggers credentials to the Republican and Democrat conventions and there was, of course, the blogging of the election. But all that does not add up to Person(s) of the Year. As bloggers, we tend to look at the blogosphere from the inside. We immerse ourselves in the blog world and sometimes we are all guilty of thinking that everyone exists in our world. Bloggers are the proverbial speck of dirt under a giant's thumbnail. When you think about the population of the world and hold up the number of bloggers - or blog readers - against that number, we become insignificant. Rubel says: bq. For 2004, I cannot think of a single person or persons that had a greater influence on society than the bloggers. Let's remind them by making our voice heard. If you think about American politics, media, business - no one, no one had a greater influence for better or worse than the bloggers. Perhaps blogs did have an influence, but on whom? On people who read blogs, of course. And how many people is that? How large is that number when held up against the number of people who take part in politics, media and business, or against the number of people that voted in the election? Technorati currently tracks 4,665,281 blogs. How many of those blogs deal with the subject of politics, media and business? How many of those blogs are updated daily or even read daily? Sheer numbers do not make a compelling argument. Imagine the cover of Time's Person of the Year issue claiming bloggers as the winner of the coveted award. How many people would take a look at that magazine and say "What the hell is a blogger?" Sure, you can call us - or a lot of you - citizen journalists, but then you'd be negating about 80% of bloggers, because only about 20% of bloggers, if that many, consider themselves journalists of any type. We are a clique. We are a group of people with inside jokes and a terminology that only we understand (fisking, for instance). Giving the Time honor to bloggers would be like giving it to the Farscape fans who tried to get the show back on the air after it was cancelled. No one cares but them. Will America - or the rest of the world that reads Time - raise a celebratory glass to bloggers should this happen or will they stare quizzically at the cover of the magazine? I do think on a whole that we are a self-important lot. It's hard for me to imagine that anyone outside of our circle (albeit a wide one) knows about or cares about blogs. Last year's winner was the American soldier. 2002 it was the Enron and WorldCom whistleblowers. How do bloggers stack up to that? Not at all. This year's informal list of nominees include Karl Rove, President Bush, Michael Moore and Mel Gibson in addition to bloggers. Of course, I'd rather see bloggers win the gold over Moore, but it's fair to say that Moore had more impact - one could even say negative impact - on events in this country in the past year than did bloggers. Personally, I'm pulling for Rove. Because the voice in my head tells me I must.

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Comments

All good points. But considering who some of Time's "Person Of The Year" have been, not totally unexpected. In the end, I don't think that it will be the Bloggers. snif I just hope that it is not Moore.

They gave it to Clinton, why not to bloggers?

Though I think they should give it to the American Soldier again - the dead that is - in tribute.

Well,since the secret brain chip that talks to you was planted by Rove,logic would lead to his being the choice,as he is truly the one that controls the blogoshere,although the designer of said chip and the VRWC doctors and nurses who sneak into the bloggers bedrooms at night to implant the nefarious devices should also get an honorable mention.

There's a movement afoot - started by PR guru Steve Rubel - to get Time to name bloggers as its Person of the Year.

I just threw up in my mouth a little.

Well, if they name "bloggers" I'm pretty sure I can guess who'll be on the cover. And it ain't gonna be you or me. ;-)

I had heard Bush was being considered - but then bloggers might get it as the hatered still left over from the ABB crowd could push it that way.

If bloggers do get it, there will at least be an article that explains blogging to the general public - but everyone know that if they do pick bloggers they will want a face, and looking at the way the MSM has been looking at bloggers, Wonkette will be the face they put on it, which is a damn shame as they should get 20-30 well know bloggers and do a group photo, just to show that its a little bit of everyone.

Rox is probably right...it would probably be Glenn (which is fine) and Kos and Wonkette (which is not fine).

It won't be Glenn. Time will want to move units. Glenn's mug ain't going to stop me at the grocery store

I'm fine with bloggers as one of the runners-up. (Ditto for Moore, Gibson, Zarqawi, John O'Neill, Howard Dean, and probably some foreigners and non-political types I'm forgetting.) But I'm totally opposed to giving the award to any disembodied group (worst of all was the year they gave it to "Endangered Earth," and "the computer" was pretty bad too).

I think I'd vote for Rove. Bush himself controlled the agenda a good deal less in 2004 than in 2002 or 2003, and you can't give it to the POTUS every year. What was remarkable about the GOP across-the-board victories this year was the underlying organization and strategy, and that's Rove.

Michele, well said, and I agree 100%. I read somewhere that percentage of people with blogs that are not "diary" bloggers is very small. As a few people above have said I suspect that if they did make bloggers the Person of the Year they would feature some that would make most of bloggers rather annoyed. (Well unless they had the good taste to use you of course...:p) We all know that Time would screw it up badly, so lets hope they chose someone else.

They will probably make John Kerry the Man of the Year.

Laurence: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! That was great!

Michele: Naming bloggers as the person of the year would be fantastic in that it would force more of the MSM to recognize the growing legitimacy of the blogosphere. Sure, a lot of people would see the cover and think "who the hell are bloggers?," but they'll also be more apt to read further. Having that much more recognition would throw established MSMers, like Rather, for example, in conniption fits.

I'm a journalist by profession, and I view blogging, both on the right and left, as the omnipresent fact-checker that has been sorely lacking for far too long. If Glenn Reynolds and Atrios get on the cover of Time, well, I'd consider that a pretty cool thing.

And if Michael Moore wins, I'll seriously consider torching myself on the White House lawn.

Who gave it to Clinton? The Bloggers want an annotated list.

And, Bloggers, let's give it up for Michele, Sheeple of the Millenium!

I not sure, y'all... It's a tough question:

"Who was more responsible for getting Bush re-elected, Rove or Moore?"

4,665,281 blogs.

4,665,270 of them are teenagers on LiveJournal.

I agree - proceed with caution.

that's a fucking retarded idea. A wise man once said: "Shut the fuck up Donny!"

...oh there's more. this whole idea is rife with the stereotypical blogger's need for attention and recognition. "Hear me world! Here I am! Look at me!" what a pathetic cry for attention. That guy Steve Rubel or whatever is a loser, and anyone who thinks the blogging community has made some kind of sentinel impact on the world needs to pull their head out of their own ass. lol, it's so typical.

I can't imagine why this post would offend anybody. I applaud your humility and sense of perspective and agree that put in perspective the 'blogospheres' contribution to journalism is pretty slim.

Sure, a few weblogs may have helped draw attention to Rathers memos, but I don't think you can say that they 'broke' the story. As far as where people heard about it goes, in the vast majority of cases it wasn't on a weblog. A paragraph on page three of a major newspaper will have more readers on a daily basis than the top five weblogs combined.

Anyway, who on Earth could they feature when the most popular and influential weblogs are also the most partisan, shrill and self-important. Taken as a whole we're not a particularly likable bunch, we take ourselves far too seriously and vastly overestimate our influence.

It may come, but it ain't here yet.

If it does become bloggers, there had better be some very honorable mentioning of MT, Hosting Matters, Scripty Goddess, and Sekimori. Without them, there would be a bunch of broken down, half-functioning, 404-erroring, ugly-assed blogs out there.

Now wait jes' one minute . . . I think I singlehandedly did more on my broken down, half-functioning, 404-erroring, ugly-assed blog than any other blogger to ensure the re-election of Dubya, and, even if I didn't actually do so, which might be closer to the truth, I have always wanted to have my picture on TIME so I'll take the honor if no one else will.

I don't think lobbying for an "award" like Time's Person of the Year is going to work, but I think Bloggers are going to win it. It's too hip and trendy for them to avoid.

Deserved? Perhaps not, but I know they're not going to give it to my personal choice: The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Hmmm, maybe they could give it to Vietnam Veterans? That way they could have a canoodling article about John Kerry and a slam at the Swiftees?

Yeah, what Michele said!

My mom: "...and Kerry wasn't even honorably discharged!"

Me: "Well, Mom, actually, they don't know that, it's just that there are a couple of suspicious things and he hasn't released his records... Say, how do you know this? I know this because I read blogs, but what about you?"

Mom: "What's a blog?"

:) Apparently she got an email about it. So maybe "Anonymous gossip-mongering email rumor-spreaders"-- let's not forget the draft emails here-- should be Man/Person of the Year.

If I were king of the world, the winner would be Abdul Qadeer Khan. But that's just me.

You know, just by way of playing Devil's Advocate—and not in that way where I'm just trying to be a dick, I swear—I'd pose the following argument for the Person(s) of the Year thing:

While most "regular" people don't read blogs or know what blogs are, professional journalists seem to have taken to using bloggers as unpaid researchers, focus groups, and tipsters. It's not a good thing, but bloggers may be having an influence on the course of world events that's completely out of proportion to their actual readership. Sort of like lobbyists, if you will.

I mean, one example that comes to mind is that business around the blogger Plain Layne last June. Layne was a high profile diary blogger who turned out to be fake. Other bloggers started speculating about her veracity, then started pooling information in one comment string. Within a matter of days they'd done an insane amount of incredibly detailed research, tracked down and exposed the actual author of the blog. And it was only after bloggers had done the work that the San Jose Mercury News, NPR, and other news organs (so to speak) started reporting on the story. And even then they managed to get half the details wrong.

Watching the whole thing go down, it made me wonder how much of the stuff we see in newspapers and on TV might just be cribbed from blogs. Because 90% of today's journalists really do seem to be little more than low-skill hacks who couldn't research their way out of a paper bag. And while most political bloggers may fall well beneath even that modest bar, the total sum total of the research capabilities embodied in the blogosphere can be pretty awe-inspiring.

Is it just me, or did all the links just change color?

I think that if you're looking for who, alive or dead, has influenced, for good or bad, the world the most in the last year, one might consider:

  • Mohammed (yeah, the prophet)
  • Leo Strauss
  • Rupert Murdock
  • Karl Rove

and, just for fun

  • Jon Stewart

Joshua... talk about meta :)

Bloggers blog about a fake blogger. I'm not sure this qualifies as news.

a different Bill... I think your comment highlights just how self-referential this whole blogging thing is. Sure, MT is a fine application, but there are many just as good. Hosting Matters, so I hear, is a wonderful company, but one of many equally good hosts. Sekimori, is a competent web designer -- so are a few hundred others.

I don't mean this as slight to anyone you mentioned, but only as an example of how insular this environment can be.

Tig, no offense intended, but the shear number of high profile blogs that are a MT/HM/SG/SD combo can not be ignored.

I'm a website programmer myself and can make a web page flat out dance, but if I was going to try to have a high traffic blog I'd be contacting the aforementioned 4 people.

What Allah said. Look, just personally, I love these kinds of posts in which you point out that we're all not even a tenth the big deal we like to think we are. Someone's gotta state the obvious once in awhile.

And Rox is right: Glenn won't sell magazines. I suppose if we're talking "looks pretty on the cover" then the likely candidate is, God help us, Josh Marshall.

Finally, while I normally agree with Ryan, a magazine cover doesn't automatically grant you "legitimacy." More importantly, I'm not sure I want to see more "legitimacy" among bloggers. It just leads to a meet the new boss, same as the old boss kind of situation. Oh, and an awful lot of "I'm going to be on Crossfire tonight" type posts. Spare me.

Wait, what was I thinking? It wouldn't be Marshall on the cover. It'd be That Skank. I think we all know the one I mean? And that'd be the last straw. I would actually prefer Moore to that option.

Bah, Time Magazine can nominate whomever they want and I couldn't care less. Half of their choices have always been controversial figures, or the assholes of history.

Michele, you'll always be one of my "People of the Year", regardless of what Time says, or how cliquish you feel we can be. :)

I think Rove is the most likely - and deserving - candidate. Also the one that will infuriate the right people the most, and therefore the most appealing.

That said, I think you underestimate the validity of Mr. Rubel's suggestion, michele. Many, many people have never heard of us, or are, at best, only vaguely aware of us, but they know the results of our collective efforts. Even if they don't know why.

- If you are right that we are merely dirt under a giant's fingernail, then Rathergate is an even bigger deal than some would have it be and more deserving, therefore, of honours.

- We impact the rankings in Google, invisibly affecting the flow of information to people who have no idea we exist.

- Your own brainchild, TCP, was being read at CNN during the Iraq invasion, mere weeks after it was launched.

- It is quite likely that a single blogger with a Blackberry prevented a friendly judge from helping Tom Daschle cheat his way into another SD Senate race win simply by attending a hearing and sending updates. The judge found out that the proceedings were appearing on the web in the middle of the hearing and, soon after, gave Daschle next to nothing.

- Slowly but surely, we are having an impact on the MSM. The strongest evidence of this yet is the death by 1,000 cuts backlash against us they're attempting now.

I could go on. I am well aware that we're pretty much all small fry, but we do have an impact, and it's only going to grow. So, no, I don't think "we" should be Time's person of the year. But I think you do us all - and yourself, especially - a dis-service in undervaluing us.

There's a movement afoot

Apropos of nothing except possibly Michele's request that someone say something stupid, I'll just mention that the word "afoot" has always been a sure fire giggle-inducer for me. I think it's because of those dorky "the goddess is alive and magic is afoot" bumper stickers you see all over the place in San Francisco and Olympia.

Amusing to me in much the same way as "the door is ajar" (thank you, Bill Hicks).

That is all.

I've had time to think it over a bit. We shouldn't forget that it was the Bloggers that were instrumental in exposing RatherGate. If RatherGate had not of happened, then possibly enough votes could have been swayed to have affected the outcome of the election shudder and we might have had President Kerry for the next few years.

Taken in that context, maybe Bloggers should be recognized by Time.

What I DO NOT LIKE is the idea of using Wonkette to represent the 'Sphere. I love her site, but she IS NOT a blog, but a corporate construct in the form of a blog. (Pseudo Blog??) Wonkette has a large production team, and Ana Marie Cox (aka Wonkette) is just one member of the production unit. With some exceptions (the well-respected Command-Post, for example) most Blogs are individual endeavors.

Long live the Blog!

Done before - but never tired, my vote is for the American Soldiers and their families. When I look over the last year - - NOONE is more deserving, again.

I think

a) it will be bloggers, and

b) we will have a Time cover with Andrew Sullivan, Josh Marshall and Wonkette on it, rather than the folks who actually broke Rathergate.

I'm actually OK with Wonkette being on the cover provided they put her in a leather "Trinity" outfit.

Oh, I'm sorry. Did I say that out loud?

The fact that Viacom has not fired anyone involved in the Rathergate smear is testimony to the lack of power blogs have. (They did fire a man at one of their radio stations for saying Dan was a bigot.) How many people like me read them? Very few based on my conversations with folk I meet.
Rod Stanton
Cerritos, CAl

Roxanne:

"Leo Strauss"

Oh that would be rich. I'd love to see Time try to grapple with that one.

How about a nice controversial cover of Leo Strauss whispering in Karl Rove's ear whispering in Rupert Murdoch's ear?

If it's not too late, and they aren't too worried about mass subscription cancellations, I'd guess Arafat would have to be a consideration -- although he was co-man-of-the-year in 1994 along with Yitzhak Rabin, Nelson Mandella, and FW de Klerk.

Some people would probably be more accepting of this if they made Dead Yasser Arafat their person of the year.

If that offends some people, I guess they could make Dead Leo Strauss the co-person-of-the-year. But now we're in a whole new category, I think.

And if Michael Moore wins, I'll seriously consider torching myself on the White House lawn.

Posted by Ryan on November 17, 2004 11:20 AM

Looks like you'll have to take a number, Ryan.

I've no interest in that much pain, maybe try to drown myself in a kiddie pool...

Considering the majority of the world's population has never even heard of a blog, then why, exactly, are we such a deserving lot?

And I have to disagree with Andrew Ian Dodge's statement-I would say that the majority of blogs have a political leaning (either right or left, I'm not splitting hairs here). The percentage that are personal are tiny, and they always get disregarded as fluff simply because they don't draw a line in the sand with regards to capital gains tax and Michael Moore.

Helen actually I think my statistics are closer to the truth. There was some study about a year ago that an overwhelming number of blogs are diary (or it might have been most of Blogspots are)...didn't keep the link.

However, here is some info on who blogs.

"There's a movement afoot - started by PR guru Steve Rubel - to get Time to name bloggers as its Person of the Year." - Michele

Oh HELL no.