Big media engages with the blogosphere in different ways

Ben Metcalfe just announced that my erstwhile employer the BBC has launched a blog portal.

Why does this make me feel uneasy?

Firstly lets be clear that the main blogs in the portal are written by BBC journalists and are not the same thing as the two hundred or so internal blogs that we got going while I was there nor are they the same as the hundred or so personal blogs written by people who work for the BBC but may not be journalists or presenters. These are the BBC exploring blogs as another output channel. Even Island Blogging which is included in the portal still doesn't feel like blogging to me but more like reality TV with the broadcasters still in control.

And there's the rub. In my last couple of years at the BBC I felt increasingly unhappy with the tension between mass media and the power of the individual voice in a blog. For me blogs have power because they are individual and not collective. If they achieve collective power it is through the coming together of ideas expressed by individuals. This sits uneasily with the branded, managed output of a big organisation like the BBC. The BBC is on the face of it better than most at managing creative individuals but it is still an organisation and its survival will take precedence over the individual every time - it has to - that is the nature of organisations.

Don't get me wrong. I know a lot of the guys behind this initiative and if any MSM org is going to get this stuff it is the BBC. But even if the journalists writing the blogs in this portal do "get it" they will inevitably be writing as BBC journalists and not as bloggers and I am not sure how that will work.