Archive for April, 2009

What Separates a Blogger from a Journalist?

Bloggers as Local News Sources

The New York Times is running an article looking at “hyperlocal” web sites as replacements to traditional newspapers. The catalyst for the concept is obviously the fact that some newspapers have been dying off, at least in print form. 

The piece looks at web startups EveryBlock,, Placebologger, and Patch, which “collect links to articles and blogs and often supplement them with data from local governments and other sources.” It is an interesting look into some possibilities for local news options beyond the local paper.

Some bloggers take exception to a couple of things implied in the article however. Matt McGee, who has a blog dedicated strictly to local blogging, pulls the following excerpt from the NYT piece:


One hurdle is the need for reliable, quality content. The information on many of these sites can still appear woefully incomplete. Crime reports on EveryBlock, for example, are short on details of what happened. Links to professionally written news articles on are mixed with trivial and sometimes irrelevant blog posts.

That raises the question of what these hyperlocal sites will do if newspapers, a main source of credible information, go out of business. “They rely on pulling data from other sources, so they really can’t function if news organizations disappear,” said Steve Outing, who writes about online media for Editor & Publisher Online.

“Inherent in those two paragraphs is this idea that there’s some kind of separation between so-called ‘professionally written news’ and what local news blogs are doing,” says McGee. “This Just In: Professionally written news articles are also sometimes trivial and irrelevant. This isn’t just a blogging thing. But that’s an attitude that continues to thrive in some traditional media circles.”

Matt makes a great point. It’s not a new point. It’s often made in the whole blogger/journalist debate, but he phrases it well. 

So I ask you, what separates a blogger from a journalist? I’ve seen plenty of credible and non-credible bloggers, as well as credible and non-credible “journalists.” Where is the line? Your thoughts? Comment.

 Update: Steve Outing, who the NYT quoted in this story has commented on this article below saying that his opinions were misrepresented by the Times. Kind of ironic, given the subject of discussion. webpronews.

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Bulgaria’s industrial production falls further by 17.7% y/y in February

The industrial production index fell by real 17.7% y/y in February as compared to revised 18.4% y/y in January, according to preliminary data of the statistical institute. The preliminary estimates showed contraction of 13.3% y/y in January when the operations of the local companies were affected adversely by the suspension of natural gas imports from Russia in January 6-21 and many firms ceased or cut significantly their production.

The first Jewish President of the United States of America

The year is 2016 and the United States has just elected the first woman as well as the first Jewish president, Susan Goldfarb. She calls up her mother a few weeks after election day and says, ‘So, Mom, I assume you will be coming to my inauguration?’
‘I don’t think so. It’s a ten hour drive, your father isn’t as young as he used to be, and my arthritis is acting up again.’
‘Don’t worry about it Mom, I’ll send Air Force One to pick you up and take you home. And a limousine will pick you up at your door.’
‘I don’t know. Everybody will be so fancy-schmantzy, what on earth would I wear?’
Oh Mom, replies Susan, ‘I’ll make sure you have a wonderful gown custom-made by the best designer in New York.’
‘Honey,’ Mom complains, ‘you know I can’t eat those rich foods you and your friends like to eat.’
The President-to-be responds, ‘Don’t worry Mom. The entire affair is going to be handled by the best caterer in New York, kosher all the way. Mom, I really want you to come.’
So Mom reluctantly agrees and on January 20, 2017, Susan Goldfarb is being sworn in as President of the United States. In the front row sits the new president’s mother, who leans over to a senator sitting next to her.
‘You see that woman over there with her hand on the Torah, becoming President of the United States
The Senator whispers back, ‘Yes I do.’
Mom says proudly, ‘Her brother is a doctor.’

GERB Nominates Sofia Mayor Borisov for Bulgaria’s Next PM

The chair of the GERB Party Tzvetanov has formally declared that Sofia Mayor Boyko Borisov would become Bulgaria’s next Prime Minister, should GERB win majority in Parliament. This for the first time in a Tuesday morning interview for the bTV channel, Tzvetan Tzvetan officially made it clear that the informal leader and founder of GERB Borisov would aspire for the Prime Minister job.

IMF: Euro adoption the solution for Eastern Europe

The central and east European countries should consider the option of adopting the euro, even unilaterally, at least to alleviate some of the burden of foreign debts of USD 413 billion. The idea of quasi-membership was proposed in a report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from a month ago, quoted by the Financial Times on Monday.

Low wages still give Bulgaria outsourcing edge.

Bulgaria still offered the best location for Western European businesses looking to outsource in the midst of the economic crunch, according to a survey by global real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle. The country’s main advantages were the lowest real estate and labour costs.

Countries in Central and Eastern Europe still offered the best value in challenging times, as opposed to their western neighbours, Bulgarian weekly Stroitelstvo Gradut quote the firm’s analysts as saying.

Jones Lang LaSalle’s survey, titled Onshore, Nearshore, Offshore: Unsure?, focused on the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Romania, where the firm has offices. Bulgaria, however, offered one of the lowest office rent rates in Eastern Europe.

The stable economic and political systems, as well as European Union membership, were cited as competitive advantages. At the same time, however, Bulgaria had not adopted the euro yet and with an average labour cost of 2.09 euro an hour in 2007, projected to rise to 2.95 euro an hour in 2012, wages were among the lowest in Europe.

Jones Lang LaSelle reckons that business outsourcing and subsequent optimatisation of business services will be the primary propeller of demand augmentation in the region for the future, as companies will want to expand in invest in locations where they will want to cut down expenses and ensure growth. Source: Sofiaecho

EU anti-fraud experts ripped off by a Bulgarian taxi driver

Experts from the European Anti-Fraud Office (Olaf) became the latest victim of the unfair competition between Bulgarian taxi drivers, Bulgarian news agency Blitz said on April 3 2009.

Olaf experts arrived in Bulgaria to take part in a seminar on fighting fraud in the EU. They took a taxi from the airport to central Sofia and were presented with a bill for 102 leva (about 50 euro), Blitz said.

Suspecting that there was something odd about the bill, Olaf experts complained to their host in Bulgaria, the Prosecutor-General’s Office, which then did a check on the taxi company, OK Superchance.

The check showed that the bill was correct, and that the company had stated the price of 8.60 leva a kilometre.

By contrast, OK Supertrans, one of two companies contracted to service the airport, charges about 0.60 leva a kilometre.

The problem is that Sofia Airport is having a hard time curtailing the influx of taxicabs that prowl terminals, picking up eagerly departing passengers. Their logos stencilled on the car doors closely resemble that of OK Supertrans, as is the case with OK Superchance.

The fare is normally indicated on stickers on the lower right corner of the windscreen and the lower left corner of the rear door window. Often, new arrivals at the airport see the OK sign, which has been recommended to them by friends and family as reliable, and end up paying hundreds of leva for a distance that costs three and sometimes four times less.

It was because of this that the airport decided to contract companies to serve its two terminals. It also imposed a restriction on parking in front of terminals and on cars from other than the two selected taxi companies to wait outside the terminals.

The problem is that the airport management cannot do anything about taxi drivers who are simply passing by and pick up customers.

The other thing is that these highly priced taxicabs are licensed, have openly and officially declared fares and operate on legal grounds. The law sets no limit to how expensive taxi fares can be.

The OK Supertrans company which services the airport and has been on the market since 1993 has filed and won a number of court cases against companies mimicking its logo. The Commission for Protection of Competition has been imposing fines of hundreds of thousands of leva one after another, but as it seems from the Olaf experience, little has changed.

In October 2008, David Hammerstein, Spanish member of the European Parliament for the European Greens, was charged 105 leva by a taxi driver in Sofia for the distance between Sofia airport and the Government building in central Sofia.

“My first impression of the country was the 105 leva I was charged by the taxi driver and the dubious receipt I got at the end,” he told reporters. When Hammerstein asked Bulgaria’s Transport Minister Petar Moutafchiev about the issue, the response he got was that nothing could be done.