Why are so many B2B media blogs anonymous?

To be honest, occasionally it has been a pretty lonely existence being a blogger.

Of course there is instant gratification when you can get to know and collaborate rub with Peter Kim, a leading social media marketer, or Jay Rosen, the head of journalism at NYU. But to find someone actually blogging about my core competence – the business of B2B media – is rare.

Perhaps it is beginning to change.  In just a week, Paul Conley, the US-based B2B consultant launched a hard-hitting analysis on the future of the sector. Rory Brown, a former boss at Incisive Media followed. News sites, blogs and Tweets carried the question can B2B magazine brands survive?off into the blogosphere. Alone? It is beginning to feel like a B2B media online community!

So I have spent today updating a previous posting on a list of bloggers who focus on B2B media. And as I did, I got rather depressed. A significant minority of B2B blogs are anonymous. Stranger still is that many of them are also well written and posting good stories. So why the anonymity?

I spent many years as an editor trying to avoid – and often failing – to run stories based on unattributed quotes (“Sources say….”). Hell, we weren’t the New York Timesbut it always seemed worth trying. And yet, here I am coming up against anonymous blogs.

Postings as thought-provoking as those by Paul Conley, Adam Tinworth and Rory Brown are also authoritative because they are clearly bylined. How are we to develop a really effective online B2B media community if some of the key participants keep their identities hidden?

As the news from many B2B companies becomes tougher and tougher, anonymous blogs taking swipes at these companies seems increasingly lame. Anyone can write anything without putting their name to it. But it takes someone to write something of importance.

Why does such anonymity plague blogs about B2B media and not national or local newspapers? All sectors are equally under pressure. In the meantime, all links to anonymous blogs on my list have been removed.

Links suggest collaboration. Calloboration suggests support. I am not sure I support them.

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About John Welsh

John Welsh has spent his entire working life in business-to-business media, first traditional publishing, having edited three magazines over 14 years, and, second, exhibitions since 2007. He started this blog on 22 June 2008 and ended it on 18 May 2010.
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4 Responses to Why are so many B2B media blogs anonymous?

  1. Paul Conley says:

    Hi John,
    Thanks for the link and the kind words.
    But allow me to suggest that there’s been a pretty vibrant B2B media community online for quite some time now.
    Back when I launched my blog late in 2004, there were already a few other folks who shared this pursuit: David Shaw and Rex Hammock (U.S.) , Paul Woodward (Asia) and Hugo Martin (Europe) were probably the best known. Since then, only David Shaw has stopped blogging. Throughout the past few years a slew of new bloggers have joined the conversation. In the States, we’re swamped with B2B bloggers! — particularly the regional blogs offered by ASBPE, the trade association for B2B editors. If you add some newer, but well-known, names like Scott Karp and Dan Blank, as well as the blogs published by Folio (both staff and user-generated), then I’d guess there are at least 50 active B2B bloggers just in the U.S.
    If you or any of your readers are interested, there are links to many of these folks on my blog.

  2. John Welsh says:

    Hi Paul
    Thanks for the comment.

    I have added the ASPBE national blogs to the list, so thanks for that suggestion, and Paul Woodward is already on it.

    The others, Rex Hammock, Hugo Martin, Scott Karp and Dan Blank, are obviously great bloggers but not what I would see as B2B media bloggers.

    Their focus at present appears to be national and local press or other subjects (as diverse as my blog!), not focused purely on B2B media like yourself.

    Thanks for your support.

    Cheers

  3. illiterato says:

    John, I appreciate your comment about unattributed sources, but that’s a rather different thing when breaking potentially controversial news stories as opposed to offering independent analysis after the fact.

    You’ll note that The Economist, for example, publishes articles without bylines, explicitly because the writer becomes “not the master but the servant of something far greater than himself. You can call that ancestor-worship if you wish, but it gives to the paper an astonishing momentum of thought and principle.”

    If you recognise a writer’s style and viewpoint and can associate it with a name, does it matter if it is a real name or pseudonym? Consider also whether your opinion of a pseudonymous writer’s comments would be changed for the better or the worse by knowing his/her true identity in advance; and how much that would be governed by the actual worth of the analysis, and how much by your preconceptions of who the person is.

  4. Adam says:

    John,

    It’s worth noting that Dan Blank is my equivalent in RBI US. So, while he often couches things in more general terms, he’s talking about experiences that are happening within B2B publishing…

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