HT Article on Bloggers as Opinion Leaders
The journalist Bhairavi Jhaveri used an interesting reporting technique and asked blog readers why they read our blogs.
My friend and one-time colleague Gautam Ghosh said: “In other media, you only get to read about current affairs, but blogs like Gaurav Mishra’s Gauravonomics touch upon how the social web is changing us as people and is based on learnings derived from Mishra’s own career path, which, as a fellow marketer,I find extremely valuable. Iwon’t find those kinds of details in the papers.”
Here is the full text of the HT story –
COMING OF AGE Indian bloggers are shaping opinion on everything from travel to fashion and current events,increasingly acting as an alternative to the old media
Pawan Sarda(30),a Nagpur-based instructor in creative thinking, spends an hour or more reading blogs every morning and only 30 minutes browsing through newspapers and magazines. “All media outlets offer the same superficial coverage in different colours. It’s suffocating,”shes ays.“Blogs offer a fresh perspective on the issues. They make me think.” One of Sarda’s favourite blogs, Greatbong (www.greatbong.net) by Arnab Ray, is far from politically correct, and is thus more frank and more real, says Sarda,who also follows blogs like IndiaUncut by Amit Varma, voted one of the 50 most influential people in India by Businessweek magazine in 2009.
Neither Ray nor Varma has any official standing in the news business.Just like a number of other Indian bloggers — covering everything from fashion to lifestyle,films and sport — have no official standing in their fields. Nonetheless, they are finding lakhs of followers — for two reasons: They offer much greater immediacy,and they are not bound by the norms of objectivity and restraint that rule coverage in the traditional media. As a result, they not only inform, but also shape opinions.
And, as these bloggers come into their own — travel blogger Aparna Roy,for instance, was recently among just six people from the Asia-Pacific region picked for a first-ever bloggers’ junket to Wales — and net penetration increases, young urban Indians are turning to these new opinion leaders for opinions and advice on everything from current affairs to eating out options and fashion trends.
“In other media, you only get to read about current affairs,”says Delhi-based HR consultant Gautam Ghosh (37), who subscribes to about 600 blogs and now spends just 15 minutes on the daily newspaper and close to 40 minutes everyday scanning blogs. “But blogs like Gaurav Mishra’s Gauravonomics touch upon how the social web is changing us as people and is based on learnings derived from Mishra’s own career path, which, as a fellow marketer,I find extremely valuable. I won’t find those kinds of details in the papers.”
For the bloggers, these massive followings — US-based research scientist Ray started blogging back in 2004 and now has over 6,000 followers and gets over 1.5 lakh pageviews per month, while Gauravonomics has over 10,000 followers — are translating into real-world celebrity status.
Radio jockey Malini Agarwal of fashion blog missmalini.com and Payal and Priyanka (who go only by their first names) of highheelconfidential.com were invited to cover Mumbai’s Lakme Fashion Week in March,and were seated in the second and third rows, next to some of the top fashion editors in the country. Agarwal also has a column in a Mumbai tabloid.
Kanika Parab (27) and Mansi Poddar (28) of lifestyle blog-turned-website Brown Paper Bag (bpbweekend.com) get exclusive invitations to pub, club and restaurant openings — sometimes even before the mainstream media — and host their own exclusive and much sought-after gourmet dining events.
Following the success of his blog, Arnab Ray has written a book titled ‘May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss!’, published by Harper Collins in March. Amit Varma’s first novel, ‘My Friend Sancho’, was on the long list for the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2008. And the fans keep pouring in, and not just from across India.
Sahil Rizwan’s film review webcomic, The Vigil Idiot(www.thevigilidiot.com), has 4,000-odd fans on its Facebook page and 2,000-odd followers on Twitter. “Even film magazines and spoofs on music channels don’t match up to Rizwan’s style,” says Kunal Joshi (24),a Detroit based PhD student. Adds UAE-based Nidhi Sudhan(31): “The stick figure sketches and his take on plot flaws, spoofs and stereotypes espouse a point of view on Bollywood films that I can really relate to.”
Adds Canada-based NRI Shefali Joshi (21), who logs on to highheelconfidential.com for updates on desi fashion trends: “ I haven’t seen many other Indian fashion blogs written with such wit; it’s also very realistic.”
For BPB girls Kanika and Mansi, who have worked hard to keep their identity secret, the real coup has been their friends’ friends recommending that they follow the blog. “It’s really funny,and flattering, when people we meet through friends recommend that we subscribe to Brown Paper Bag’s weekend guide, not knowing that we’re the ones who run it,” says Kanika.