Archive for June 30th, 2008

More on the Catwalk Queen/Panorama brouhaha

Last week I did a hastly-written comment about the BBC failing to credit fashion blog Catwalk Queen in their Panorama documentary on Primark. Interestingly, it’s made it around the internet and into Media Guardian, among others.

In a way, it neatly highlights what I mused about – that this was another conversation on the internet that makes the corporation look bad and adds another chip to that link between old and new media (I really have to stop using those terms, they’re so outdated). Although it feels like an individual error rather than systematic blogger pillaging, the damage has still been done. How many bloggers may think twice about accepting interview requests?

Charles Arthur probably has one of the best pieces of commentary on the topic:

Certainly this tendency to think that because people blog they’re (a) happy to get any exposure (b) not that important except as a source of opinion is one that’s taking some time to permeate through the many, many layers of conventional news organisations.

Again, it comes down to the subject of transparency on the net. Any organisation – be it PR, journalism, politicians or whoever needs to understand the idea of reciprocracy that permeates throughout online communities, and that you need to be transparent throughout all levels of the conversation. That includes credits.

To the Panorama’s credit, editor Sandy Smith apologised on the original Shiny Media blog post. How many ‘traditional’ media outlets would have done that a year or two ago? How many would do it now. That’s fed into the conversation, been acknowledged, and probably gone a long way to stopping any criticism going any further.

Having seen again the bits Panorama used without credit, it’s certainly a wee bit naughty and Shiny are definitely right to be a little peeved. The editor of Catwalk Queen, Gemma Cartwright, sums things up nicely:

So to Sandy Smith I say thank you for recognising that a mistake was made. I hope this is a lesson to all of us for the future. To bloggers – don’t be afraid to ask for credit, a fee or both. To the BBC – don’t underestimate or undermine bloggers. They have more power than you realise.

Perhaps its time for all media organisations to, at the very least, starting having informal discussions about dealing with bloggers, assuming they haven’t already.

Although one (as likely unexpected) flipside to this for Shiny Media is that Catwalk Queen’s managed to get a fair bit of exposure and, I’d imagine, increased brand recognition out of this, especially in the online community. I think it’s fair to say that if I’m asked to recommend a fashion blog, that would be the first one that comes to mind now. And if, in the incredibly unlikely event I had to do something work-related with fashion and blogging, or just fashion in general, CQ would probably be my starting point*. Clouds, silver linings and all that 🙂

*Not that I understand a great deal of what’s written on there. I imagine it’s akin to one of the writers there trying to make sense of one of my more rambling pieces on Ebbsfleet United, or non-league football in general.

And yes, it is a great excuse to use the word brouhaha. It doesn’t get used often enough.

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The world may not have stopped for tea. I did.

Saturday, and I headed to Fortnum and Mason for a global teaparty, of sorts. The idea started from the Facebook Group A Cup of Tea Solves Everything, where one of two of the members suggested it might be quite nice to get together to drink tea in London.

This duly expand the original remit, when several more members said they couldn’t make it but would raise a cuppa at 4pm, the time of the tea-meet. This then expanded further to the idea of a global rolling tea party, where everybody on the group had a cup of tea at 4pm, local time.

I then blogged about it (and I suspect a couple of other people did too) and before I knew it, there were links and comments and searches coming left right and centre about the idea of a global rolling tea party. Something that started as a small idea on Facebook and grown beyond what could ever be imagined.

The Fortnum’s meet-up may not have been well-populated, but judging from the comments on Facebook, plenty of others had a cuppa at 4pm. It was, though, a very pleasant afternoon on my part (when is drinking tea not a pleasant way to spend an afternoon) and a range of topics were discussed, one of which was the Global Tea Party Mark II.

The idea was reasonably simple – if a little bit of chatter had spread around the world just from a simple Facebook suggestion and a few blogs, why not have a worldwide rolling tea party to raise money for charity. Macmillan Cancer have the world’s largest coffee morning, so why not have a worldwide tea party?

Ok, so there’s still a lot to be thought of – which charity, publicity, logistics, etc – but it’s such a, well, nice idea that it may well happen.

And if it does… well, that’s just from one small idea in one even smaller corner of the internet.

Sometimes a small idea is all you need.

[Just before anybody thinks I’m getting all posh and London on you, the meetup was organised for Fortnums, a place I’d normally be too terrified and poor to go into. But it’s all rather nice, and very pleasant and enjoyable. The kind of place you’d take your mum if she came to visit. That is to say, I now have another idea of the list of places to take my mother if she comes to visit me. She likes a good cuppa even more than me.]


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Yes, this is my name. And my email. Use it wisely or you're not getting a biscuit with your tea: garyllewellynandrews [at] gmail [dot] com