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Another Blow to “Blogs as Journalism”

The Sand Trap, a site powered by MovableType, looks somewhat like a blog. It also looks like a very golf-centric news site. We have a former writer for Golf Digest, Golf Magazine, Golf World, Golf Week, and Golf for Women on our staff. Another gentleman named Kiran and I have kicked out some good, in-depth articles that beat print publications (and even other online publications) to the story. We have in-depth reviews you won't find elsewhere, and opinion articles that are naturally all our own.

All of that makes this response from the "Golf Writers Association of America," puzzling. I requested an application and received this response:

thanks for your interest... unfortunately, blogs and ezines do not fall under gwaa guidelines as recognized publications.

if you have published a minimum of six different golf stories in the past 12 months in newspapers/magazines, we will be glad to send you an application.

Six articles in twelve months. Presumably the Erie Daily Times counts. Its golf readership may number as high as 10,000. The Sand Trap could garner as many as 10 million readers, yet it cannot be a "recognized publication."

Perhaps the GWAA (in particular, the person who responded) is simply behind the times. Perhaps she has in her mind a picture of a blog, and that picture closely resembles LiveJournal or something. Perhaps the dead-tree publishers and writers that make up the bulk of the GWAA membership fear blogs or electronic publications, and as an organization, resist incorporating members of this growing field to their ranks.

Either way, I'm stunned by the response. I've written for e-zines and sites, and owned a few. Some of those e-zines and sites had millions of dollars pumped into them (cough, ahem, I've been published in MacAddict. Microsoft has spent tens of thousands of dollars advertising with sites I've run. It's not a matter of advertising attention - good sites get it as much as (or more than) dead tree publications.

TaylorMade, the market leader in drivers in golf (and fairway woods and hybrids to many), recently contacted us. They've got a "Manager of Global eMarketing," in fact! If the market leader, an Adidas company, recognizes The Sand Trap, why shouldn't the GWAA?

Perhaps I should simply call the Erie Daily Times and have some of my articles re-published. Six weeks or so from now, it seems I could be a member of the GWAA. Every twelve months, the EDT could re-publish some content. Does that make me a "journalist" more than continually-published content on The Sand Trap? In the eyes of the GWAA, I suppose so.

"Blogs as Journalism" still has a ways to go, despite what others may think.

3 Responses to "Another Blow to “Blogs as Journalism”"

  1. Here is the current content of my response, edited to remove names and addresses:


    "[snip]" wrote on 2/10/05 2:14am:

    thanks for your interest... unfortunately, blogs and ezines do not fall under gwaa guidelines as recognized publications.

    Thank you for taking the time to respond to me. However, I must express my disagreement with the stance you've taken.

    I believe earnestly that such a stance is both short-sighted and disrespectful of what is becoming one of the fastest-growing means of publication in the world - electronic publishing.

    Bloggers have made the news, recently. Fake documents about George W. Bush's service in the military passed CBS and Dan Rather's eyes, and CBS was later forced to apologize, retract, and recant after bloggers investigated and found the truth to be quite different than CBS originally stated.

    Howard Dean, recent presidential candidate, had a blog. Blogs are good enough for one of the top five Democratic candidates for our nation's highest office, but not good enough for the GWAA?

    I could be the "golf beat writer" for my local paper (The Erie Daily Times) and reach 10,000 (or fewer) readers, or I can write for my golf news site powered by a content-management system and reach 10,000,000, yet the latter is not "recognized" as a publication?

    TaylorMade recently contacted us about sending us prototype equipment for testing. They recognize the growing trend towards electronic publication and are already looking to tap into it to increase their exposure. The market leader in drivers recognizes The Sand Trap, but the GWAA will not?

    The Sand Trap is far from an ordinary "little old blog." In fact, we have at least one former GWAA member already on staff.

    I encourage you to reconsider your position, as I have worked for "e-zines" and "blogs" that take in millions of dollars in advertising revenue per year. Web-published content is not wholly replacing print content, but it has already supplemented it and is taking the place of print content for many.

    if you freelance for newspapers/magazines/recognized internet sites, you may qualify that way. if you have published a minimum of six different golf stories in the past 12 months in newspapers/magazines or recognized websites, we will be glad to send you an application.

    please provide a u.s. mail address if you are requesting an application.

    I am, and I can be reached at the following address:

    Erik J. Barzeski



    If you could include a second application for my staff member Kiran Vakamudi, I would appreciate it.

    Kiran Vakamudi



  2. I think what you need to do is apply for an ISSN -- this is essentialy an ISBN for Serial publications such as magazines.

    It is harder to get an ISSN for an online publication than it was a few years ago, but i think you should be able to get one. This would probably give you MUCH more leverage in convincing them that you are a recognized publication.

  3. I edited my response to be a bit happier and more "honey" than "vinegar" and got a response:

    i understand your position and we do have a number of members who write for websites we recognize. we have strict criteria for those sites, which include being news-oriented sites which change content daily and have advertising. we were among the first to recognize internet writers and i was among the first to cover an event for a website when i covered the 95 ryder cup for sportsline.

    blogs simply don't fit our current criteria. neither do webbooks or the vast majority of ezines.

    as a professional organization, we are constantly looking at the changing trends, which is why we spent so much time defining our internet rules. we also have a criteria for new paper/physical publications.

    if you would like to check back with us later in the year, you are welcome to do that.

    The only criteria we currently fail to meet is "have advertising." I'll reply one more time, but it's clear that simply calling The Sand Trap a blog because it's powered by MovableType was a mistake on my part (and a heap of short-sightedness by the GWAA).