Sunday, January 22, 2006

al-Bashir Takes Home Coveted "Worst Dictator" Award, Joan and Mellisa Dish on Qaddafi's Gown

Parade magazine lobbed up a softball to left-wing bloggers today with their cover story that asks the question: Who is the World's Worst Dictator?

I expect that before the day is through, the blogosphere will run heavy with posts suggesting, with varying degrees of facetiousness down to absolute zero, that President Bush should be appearing on the list somewhere between North Korea's Kim Jong-il and Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan.

The farkers, those PhotoShop wizards who like to doctor up pictures, are probably hard at work right now replacing Robert Mugabe's mug shot with an image of Bush flashing a diabolical smirk.

While Bush is probably the most likely target for this online assault, there are certainly other candidates as well. I'm not sure if Steve Riedl* of the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association has a blog, but if he does he probably has a rant about how Seyed Ali Khamane'i seems downright Chomsky-esque compared to Bruce Strom.

It's all innocent fun for the most part. Articles such as this are tailor-made for eliciting commentary from political-minded bloggers. Maybe a little too tailor-made.

I'm not suggesting that the people at Parade put this list together for the sole purpose of stirring-up the blogosphere and generating a whole bunch of links to the online edition of the article on their Web site. I'm sure they've visited this topic before in the past, as much of their content seems to be recycled. But I can see how the mainstream media (MSM) might want to consider how some of their stories can be geared for maximum blog reaction.

The basic model for people seeking publicity is to get the attention of the MSM through a news release, a press conference, or jumping up and down on Oprah's couch. With ever increasing competition, news outlets are forced to fight for an audience and it seems that some free publicity from bloggers would help them with that mission.

I'm not referring to quaint little boutique blogs such as this one. Getting play here is the equivalent of appearing on the Bryon Allen Show. But getting a link on one of the heavy-traffic sites such as Daily Kos or kausfiles, one of my favorites, would certainly provide a significant boost to a news outlet's Web site. I'm sure even some of the local blogs such as Abelog or the Eleventh Hour can cause a jump to the SJ-R's Web traffic when they comment on one of their stories.

In the past, the MSM has generated the most publicity on blogs when they've published editorials or opinion pieces stating that bloggers are pajama-wearing zealots who operate in the nether regions of the lunatic fringe and are not beholden to truth and accuracy. This may be true in some cases, but as certain segments of the blogging world gain in legitimacy, the MSM should consider how they can share an audience.

*I agree with the letter writer in Saturday's SJ-R who feels that Riedl is coming across as a wee bit contemptuous towards those who supported the smoking ban, many of whom are consumers of licensed beverages themselves.

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