Bad Language: Associated Press’ fake blog

I saw on the feeds last week that Associated Press, old chestnut of the news wire, has started a blog called Bad Language. Flagged it ready to follow up but, whilst it’s easy enough to find syndicated versions of Bad Language posts, I’m having difficulty finding the blog itself. It’s one thing to read about it, but I really want to inspect the horse’s mouth for myself. Does it have fillings? Hallitosis? Gingivitis?

According to Yahoo, in Bad Language‘s first post, Derrik J Lang, Associated Press Writer wrote:

Yeah, we know we’re like two years too late to straddle the blog bandwagon. But we’re backed by the largest and oldest news organization in the world. So, you know, we’ve got nothing to prove. Really. All you should expect from Bad Language is sarcasm-coated news and commentary about all things pop culture.

But where? No link.

MSN Entertainment syndicate another post, but insofar as I can see (and I can’t see all of it because MSN’s site doesn’t play well with Firefox) there’s no link back to the AP blog. The Miami Herald ran the story, but ditto. Editor and Publisher, ditto again.

Ok, cut to the chase, go straight to the AP website, but whilst I’ve found the horse, there’s no sign of the mouth – no link to the blog on the front page. Nothing on the site map either. Nothing on their What’s New page. Nothing on the Press Releases page.

What about Technorati? A quick keyword search turns up a lot of commentary but no links to Bad Language itself. I’m starting to wonder if this blog actually exists. Then a breakthrough from Common Sense Journalism:

And just to show how hip AP is, the Yahoo story does not have a link to this new blog. Yeah, that’s hip: let’s put out a blog that’s not easy to find among the 5 million or so that now exist.

(AP is following its old model, apparently, of making it accessible only through member newspaper sites. Here’s today’s entry (sub req after you’ve clicked once) at the Miami Herald about the “Playboy: The Mansion” video game. The writing is pretty much old AP with a (not much) breezier spin.

(Visit Bug Me Not to get a login if you need to.)

So Bad Language isn’t, in fact, a blog at all. It’s another wire, written as if it was a blog and unavailable to the general public except through the sites of those purveyors of news who have the cash to pay up for it. Bad Language is a phantom, a pretence, a fake.

I really don’t understand what AP think they are doing. You can’t become a part of the blogosphere simply by calling a wire a blog. It doesn’t work like that. Blogs syndication means that anyone can pick up an RSS feed and read it at their leisure, it’s not the same as old-fashioned news syndication where anyone who wants to reproduce your articles has to pay through the nose for it.

Blogs are discrete entities with a single, stable URI for the main page and permalinks for individual entries. They have trackbacks and comments and archives and categories. You can search Technorati for their cosmos or Truth Laid Bare for their position in the ecosystem. But Bad Language exists only in distributed form, scattered across the web on a number of news sites. It is not a blog, not by any stretch of the imagination.

AP have obviously and spectacularly failed to understand what ‘syndication’ means in the blog sense or what a blog actually is. And what’s worse, the entries I’ve read so far are just not very good. Whilst it’s true that I have read drivel less interesting in my years as a blogger, this poor copy of Wonkette is written by someone who is supposedly a professional writer and it really should be better.

AP have a long, long way to go before they can claim membership of the blogosphere. Firstly, they need a blog. Secondly, they need a blogger who can write interesting and compelling posts. Thirdly, they need to engage with the blogosphere directly, on a first person basis, not try to latch on to the buzz through the intermediaries of news sites like Yahoo.

Question is, do they have the backbone to break their old media habits and truly embrace blogging?

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