BLOG word cloud, business concept

You’d think, wouldn’t you, that a panel discussing whether careers can be made from blogging or whether Generation Y are living in a fantasy world, that the panel might have bothered to actually read a blog? Or at least, not admit that they hadn’t.

I’ve just returned from said debate at the Hospital Club in Covent Garden. I knew it would be bad, but even I didn’t take into account just HOW bad it would be.

The two bloggers on the panel were Danielle Peazer (Able Lane) and Zoe Griffin from LiveLikeAVIP (chosen, apparently, because ‘they have lots of followers’). The others on the panel were Katie Hopkins and journalist, Tanya Gold and the event was compered by Katie Glass.

The supposed premise of the debate was to discuss whether bloggers and vloggers can make money on line or are our dreams of ‘working from a laptop by a pool’ a fantasy. Excuse me while I just call my pool boy to bring me a cocktail. You don’t have one? Oh. Clearly you aren’t a blogger.

It was just a nonsense, with the two bloggers relentlessly grilled about the money aspect (‘so, basically you’re PRs?’) so it became far too much of a focus. For some bloggers, it IS all about the money – for the vast majority, it’s about so much more than that. So, I just kind of listened while the insanity of asking a beauty blogger why she wasn’t blogging about the election and more important things than that particular area of interest, and it became more and more apparent that the panel had done absolutely no research whatsoever. They didn’t understand blogging or vlogging on even the most basic level. Talk about lazy.

The panel were most interested in the £££’s first of all and second concerned themselves with the point that fashion and beauty is vacuous. When it came to question time, I did make the point that Katie Hopkins has made her opinions clear about the unemployed and wasn’t it better than young people were trying to take charge of their own destiny in a job market that’s very difficult. She did take the point. However, I also said that vlogging and blogging is a skill builder – they had no clue about the technical aspect, the need to understand SEO, code, to be able to work across multiple channels, to operate a camera and edit pictures, to be able to edit videos – all the multiple behind the scenes work that goes on. They just hadn’t thought it through. That there might be a bit more to it that getting paid for talking about lipstick with fairylights and cupcakes.

The audience were just as scary in their anti-blogger bias – one vlogger suggested that blogging and vlogging is a middle class privelege (because people’s parents buy them cameras, apparently) and that somehow it wasn’t quite fair if that had been the case. Zoe quit her job to start her blog, but that’s a very unusual way to do things – it’s not the norm, but he had an issue that that also might not be fair because he couldn’t afford to take time off his job. Usually, bloggers and vloggers juggle a full time job and then make the switch – not the other way round.

As you’d expect, there was concern ‘for the written word’ and then we got into the whole grammar and spelling thing. I think we only need to look to the Guardian to know that poor spelling isn’t the preserve of blogs.

They neglected to mention that fashion and beauty have been the mainstay of the UK magazine industry long before blogs existed, and yet somehow blogs on the subject were ‘vapour’. They are subjects that keep plenty of journalists employed, thanks very much.

This debate really was the opportunity to properly look at how blogs and vlogs have changed the landscape – Katie thinks they’ll be gone in 5 years – Tanya just didn’t really know anything at all, other than a friend of hers was really shocked not be offered any payment from Mumsnet. Welcome then, Tanya, to the world of blogging where any money is hard fought for for the majority of us.

They looked only at the surface, didn’t bother to look at any wider issues (such as the economy boost that beauty and fashion bloggers have brought to the industry) and they couldn’t be arsed to consider blogging and vlogging a valid use of time and words. Or even grasp the really simple fact that blogs generally focus on on one or two topics only (usually the topic that the blogger is interested enough in to create a site to talk about it) because otherwise you’d never ask why experts in that field weren’t discussing the general election. Oh. My. God.

They also made some comment (Katie, I think), that if you were young and pretty you had a better chance at it (hello… not young and not pretty here, doing quite a good job of things!) bringing it down a notch even further. There was an air of superiority over bloggers and vloggers; borne of absolute ignorance and not helped by – sorry, I’ve got to say it – the two bloggers on the panel being more focussed than most on money.

For so many bloggers, blogging is just a sheer joy – it’s not a career and nor do they want it to be. It’s an outlet for creativity and thoughts (so why the quality of the written world is relevant, I don’t know – it’s YOUR blog, do it as you please) for individuals. Every blogger knows that they can’t all be Zoella (who, naturally came up as an example of ‘vapour’,  with our vlogger friend making sure the whole room knew that ‘she didn’t get there on her own – she has a whole management team’, neglecting to realise that she didn’t have one when she started and she did very, very well before she even considered a management team) and further, not every blogger has that agenda. Nor does every vlogger.

The Hospital Club’s debate was poorly researched, a shambles of a debate and really just ugly to listen to. I left before it was over.  I will just add in one last point, that every single journalist always raises about bloggers – ‘they’re not journalists’. Yeah, we know that. It’s okay. But we’re doing just fine, talking with people like us who want to talk to us as much as we want to talk to them. And there’s bloody millions of them!

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