And these are the questions and answers

The Sunday Times got on to me about a piece they were doing on blogging and asked me a few questions. This is the resultant article that once again tries to put those damned bloggers in their place. (This is the same paper by the way where a staffer anonymously on my blog said I was on the payroll of Hell Pizza because I blogged that I liked their pizzas but they still come calling when they need on and off record information on articles they write). They really don’t like Twenty do they? Is anyone keeping track on how many articles in the paper by a few journos (Oh hi Mark!) are inspired by blogs in Ireland? Or as the Sunday Times puts it: “squawks of online indignation if newspapers steal their material without credit.”

Update: Forgot to add that this is how they described what the piece was about: I’m researching a feature for The Sunday Times this weekend on the role of the political in Irish public discourse

Below are the questions asked and my answers.

> (1) Would you agree that few Irish blogs (other than Irish Economy) have made it into mainstream public consciousness?

I’d disagree. girls have a regular slot on Gerry Ryan and write a column for the Herald Nialler9 writes for the Indo’s entertainment mag Donal Skehan from Good Mood Food writes a section on food for the Indo weekend section I actually think bloggers are over-represented in media given there’s a few 1000 active blogs in Ireland

> (2) Does any Irish blog/blogger make money? was Irish and was acquired by and the guy who ran it works for them too I believe. have an agency you have to talk to in order to put an ad on their site! I know some put ads on their personal blogs but I think that’s pretty vulgar but that’s me. Businesses are making money from having a blog, Komplett are making 6 figures from it and expect to make 7 figures.

Myself and others I know make money indirectly. We have nothing to sell or buy off our blogs but it establishes authority and credibility and leads to brand recognition and people recommending your services to others. I’ve lost count of the number of consultancy gigs I got from a reader of my blog who recommended me to a friend or their boss. A few of these people I’ve never met at all, we just know each other via blog comments.

> (3) Is Ireland too close-knit a society to need blogs – ie do we not just chat to each other down the pub?

Irish people use every communications tool going. Pubs and chat there, phone, text messaging (we send more texts than most other countries in the world), 1.2M of us are on Facebook and 900k of us log on every day to communicate and possibly remove drunken photos of ourselves. We sing, write, paint, I think we get hooked on every form. Blogging has definitely slowed down the past while as all these other tools that allow us to communicate have come along.

> (4) Have a lot of bloggers, in your experience, migrated to social networking sites and Twitter?

Yes, some have given up the ghost completely, some have gone from daily updates to weekly or monthly. It’s a bit like when texting came about. It has a massive impact on people making phonecalls.

> (5) Isn’t it unsatisfactory/annoying/disheartening that Twenty Major will get 50 comments for a posting “John O’Donoghue is a cunt”, but Gavin Sheridan will get none or 1 comment for a brilliant analysis of Nama?
> And even if none of the above, isn’t it reflective of the blogging/internet debate experience?

Everyone has their niche I suppose. TheStory is fine for posting up dull FOIs with a conspiracy theory hook to them. There’s a space for that. If you read the posts though, they are more like a noticeboard than something that really engages. Compare that to Twenty Major which is populist with a subtle intelligent analysis of current affairs. More people join in on the posts as the posts generally encourage discussion, even if it is to shout at TDs. Interestingly though, the traffic and numbers don’t matter as much online as it’s more about the quality of people. TheStory being read by both journalists and politicians means a post there might have way more impact than if Twenty blogged about the same topic.

> Damien, these are just generally areas I’m exploring. Wd welcome your views on any related themes re. the blogging experience in Ireland

I think blogging has actually become even more niche as time has moved on. More people are online, way more are communicating online but while Facebook goes from 400k users in January 2009 to 1.2 Million by the start of December we still have 4-5k blogs in Ireland. I think it’s good that there are now more ways to communicate than just blogging but they still have amazing reach if people use them effectively.

26 Responses to “And these are the questions and answers”

  1. Mick says:

    Hi Damien,

    As you’ll no doubt be aware the blogging scene is relatively new to me so still learning / trying things. One of my big questions is whether to aim for search traffic or go the ‘journalist’ / reader loyalty route. The answer may differ from site to site based on what you’re trying to achieve, or what you think a blog is supposed to be, but still an area for exploration i think.

    It’s enjoyable regardless as both a hobby and a learning exercise, and the presence of social networking certainly offers other dynamics. We’ve seen people find us via search or arrive from Facebook, and then join/register their details (our prime objective albeit we always expected a slow burn), so maybe these elements all work to complement each other anyway.

    A number of bloggers have definitely dropped by the wayside though, probably for various reasons, but i wonder how much is due to flagging energy and the difficulty in keeping 2-300 regular visitors entertained / informed. (Back to the search vs loyalty question).

    As an aside the article prompted me to run through your blogroll – didn’t do them all but (alphabetically) got from A to C. Looks like maybe 10 of these have stopped writing so you might want to do a full scan yourself.

    My view – will be blogging and learning until i see a reason not to!



  2. Éidín says:

    And thats why i dont’t buy the Sunday Times

  3. […] Mulley publishes the email correspondence between himself and John Burns on what seemingly started out as a piece on political blogging in Ireland. It’s a shame he […]

  4. roosta says:

    jayzus, that Times article is awfully bitter.

    what did bloggers do to the author?

  5. Ian Healy says:

    Clearly the newspaper mee-d’ya folk are clutching at straws,so they attack other news media 🙂 “Bloggers are wankers,buy the Sunday Times”

  6. […] I was going to write an insightful piece today about an article in the Sunday Times about blogging in Ireland. […]

  7. It reads awfully skewed, all right.
    I wish I knew how to make money or even get free things from my well read blog…

  8. Grandad says:

    Why do the meeja have this paranoia about blogging? They always seem to measure the medium against themselves, as if the Holy Grail is to get the news out there first.

    Speaking for myself, I do it for the craic. I enjoy scribbling, and I enjoy the feedback and banter. I am not particularly concerned with ‘circulation figures’, nor am I trying to compete with the established meeja in any way.

    Their last lines amused me – ”
    No Irish blog is important enough to read every day. Until that changes, you’ll be getting your news and comment on paper.

    Define ‘important’? Are their comments the only valid ones? Would they have us only read ‘important books’ for entertainment?

    Lighten up, Lads.

  9. Could we not lump all ‘newspaper med-d’ya folks’ together though? Us hacks no more have a single hive mind than all bloggers speak with one voice.

    Some of us even blog.

  10. Interesting. I haven’t read the Times in nearly a year so I wouldn’t have known about the article if you hadn’t mentioned it.

    I was surprised about the many assumptions the article expressed about blogging. To read it you’d think bloggers were plotting world domination, though the reality is many of us are just keeping in touch with friends and family, or enjoying the thing in itself. Roosta’s right, ‘bitter’ is what comes across, and it left me wondering…

    Thanks Damien.

  11. […] got all this from Damien Mulley’s post. He lists the questions he was asked, and the replies he gave, and it’s fascinating to see […]

  12. TUG says:

    Is it ironic that the only reason we’re reading the Sunday Times is because of a blog link and a story about blogs…

    Probably not…

    Come on in derivative media… Your time is up.


    Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch, journalists are just so vacuous…

    Present company excluded of course to Jon Ihle, Neil Callanan, Richard Delevan, Gavin Sheridan and all the other clued up journos who use the ‘pin! 😛

  13. For those bloggers who think that that article actually did them damage, they’re very wrong. A long piece like that devoted to Irish bloggers (naming a few, quoting a few), even if purportedly negative or patronising, actually keeps bloggers in the general public’s eye (at a time when not much else is doing so). Many people believe that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. In this case, that theory would hold water.

    On a separate issue, I can understand Damien’s position if he’s unhappy about his attribution, or the context of his quotes. If so, he’s quite right to come back on it here; we journalists shouldn’t be let off.

  14. ps what is it about the Sunday Times that people like so much? Including everyone here, who follow it closely enough to recognise all the articles inspired by blogs?

    In fairness to the S Times, its sales are very strong. Guess I can see now who’s buying it 🙂

  15. Twenty and The Story? Not even comparing like with like.

  16. Suzy says:

    Adrian – don’t think anyone is worried about damage at all! Couldn’t care less is what I’m hearing from some, others wish he’d go and read their stuff instead and the rest will just keep doing what they are doing. Maybe John can go on a social media course and learn more rubbish there!

  17. […] So the response of The Sunday Times’ trolling piece on the death of Irish blogs is alive and kicking.  I am not going to barge in and rechew all of the comment. […]

  18. I think the Times and other papers have got the hump because while politicos and boardroomers had this snug cosy ‘relationship’ with journos (ie ply them with lots of free drink and beanos to get sympathetic coverage) that model doesn’t work with bloggers.

    I’m thoroughly enjoying the whining of politicos and dead-tree ‘journalists’ that their cosy little world is being disturbed.

    Where was the Sunday Times amid all the corruption in Irish politics over the years? Exactly.

  19. Justin Mason says:

    People still read the Sunday Times?

  20. Makes no mention of the 10-strong stable of Irish Times blogs, which have a pretty decent following.

    Articles like this lump all blogs into one category and are effectively just talking about a technology – a pretty basic technology, at that, which is no more than an automated means of updating a particular type of website. As many have pointed out, the newspaper industry is facing more questions about its own decline than the blogging “community”. The Irish Times, the Guardian, the New York Times &c have obviously decided that blogs are part of their future (even if they have yet to determine how).

    The comment about “squawks of online indignation if newspapers steal their material without credit” is funny. I wonder if the Sunday Times, or John Burns, would characterise infringement of its own intellectual property in such a fashion.

  21. All I know is, half the ads in newspapers these days are in-house ads extolling the virtues of advertising in newspapers… 😉 Meanwhile, on the web I seem to be spending money I used to on print ads on an effective social media effort with a clear ROI.


    On the other hand, bloggers ain’t newspapers… I don’t need to read articles from them every day. It’s micro-content just the same way as we’re now making micro-purchases for iPhone apps and in video games… Etc.

  22. Padraig McKeon says:

    Have to agree with most all of that Damien. To the point about comparing Twenty and TheStory – how many read the Sunday World over, say the Business Post or the Sun over the Observer – similar case, similar argument – just different field is it not.

    To Captain Con’s point also, that erosion of the mutual interdependence between institutions of the media and politics, business and indeed others (academia, unions, etc) is broken and a new order evolves around us.

  23. TUG says:

    I thought you were channelling Una with your “Yaysies” and “Sadsies” in your latest post and lo and behold, she goes over the top, vicariously on 20’s blog…

    The ironing is certainly delicious.

  24. Una was out to inflict hurt on people for whatever reason but kicking a nest of wasps causes all sorts of ructions. Calamitsies.

  25. […] to look as if we’d done some research and not just rung a few journalist mates we spoke to Damien Mulley, asking him did he read books. “Read books? Of course I do, ” he said. And which would […]

  26. […] Sunday Times journalist John Burns wrote a piece lamenting the shortcomings of blogging in Ireland. Leading bloggers naturally begged to differ. A month later, the spat was picked up by Trevor Butterworth […]