When a blogging award isn’t for blogging

By Felix Salmon
May 26, 2010
sets me straight on the new blogging award:

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Jim Prevor, a self-described “proud finalist for the Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism for work that originated online”, sets me straight on the new blogging award:

There is no Loeb category for blogging. The category is entitled “Online Commentary and Blogging” and the criteria is “excellence in analysis and commentary that originates online” — so if George F. Will decided to give up his Washington Post gig and, instead, post his column online every Tuesday and Thursday — he would be eligible. There is no requirement to have a blog or be a blogger.

The new category is obviously a response to changes in the media whereby many respected publications don’t have the page count to carry all the great stuff they could publish, so they publish it online…

The pieces I was nominated for had nothing to do with the Blog and were three articles, exactly identical in form and substance to the kind I have had published in the print version of The Weekly Standard, except for reasons of space and timeliness, the editor ran them online.

This is, actually, precisely my point. If Prevor’s work is “exactly identical in form and substance” to the kind of stuff that might otherwise have appeared in print, then shouldn’t it be competing with that content, for the Commentary award, rather than being ghettoized in an award which seems to care more about the medium than the message?

Prevor and I agree that he’s no blogger. But here’s the thing: there’s no point in having a whole new award if it’s not for blogging and is just for commentary — there’s a perfectly good commentary award already. If there is going to be a new blog for online content, it should recognize stuff which could only be online. That’s why I thought the award would go to blogs (as opposed to individual blog entries), and would award bloggers (as opposed to someone whose day job is to be the editor of a stable of fresh-food trade mags such as PRODUCE BUSINESS magazine).

Francine McKenna, another finalist for the award, says she believes that the nomination “was a first-attempt to recognize work like mine”. But the fact is that if she doesn’t win, then the award will not go to work like hers. She’s the only full-time blogger on the list, and she’s also the only one of the nominees who is truly independent: her nomination, uniquely of the four, was not submitted on her behalf by an established print publication.

One of the great things about the internet is that it’s a natural home for sites like McKenna’s, which are good at filling niches which print publishers have neither the ability nor the inclination to address. But if the Loebs wanted to create a prize for sites like McKenna’s, they did a very bad job of it, judging by the four finalists.

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