2 min read

Instablogs stumbles, but the threat remains

Longtime readers of this blog know I like to warn B2B publishers that they face a competitive threat from standalone journalists -- sources, ex-employees and others who use the tools of citizen journalism to bring their work directly to users.
If you're a B2B journalist, you should be aware of the new opportunities you have now.
If you're a B2B publisher, you should be worried about these new standalone competitors taking away your business.
But whoever you are, it doesn't look like you have to worry about Instablogs.
Instablogs is a new collection of single-topic blogs -- some of which cover the business world. Among them are sites about the advertising and outsourcing industries.
But the network has stumbled badly in its opening days...and I'm just not seeing anything that would indicate the blogs have enough professionalism or passion to make a go of it.
First, I agree with Steve Outing at Poynter that publishing the blogs anonymously is a bad idea. I'm sure Instablogs has the same concern that I think B2B publishers should have -- letting a single person become the voice of your product leaves you vulnerable to the whims of that same single person. But running a blog that doesn't conform to the culture of the blogging world -- personal and transparent -- is a bigger mistake.
More importantly, whoever these anonymous bloggers are, it appears they aren't the most professional bunch around. Instablogs has already issued an apology for plagiarizing other writers. But in what I've already come to think of as Instablogs' flawed style, the apology itself is not transparent. In other words, it doesn't tell me what happened. It doesn't tell me why it happened. It doesn't even tell me what the offensive blog was.
Instablogs is getting crucified in the blogging world. I'll be surprised if this experiment lasts much longer.
But that doesn't mean that B2B publishers are off the hook. The threat from a new generation of entrepreneurial journalists -- many of whom already have name recognition in the industry you cover -- has arrived.
(ADDENDUM -- About two hours after I wrote this post, Instablogs responded to my complaint about the lack of transparency in the apology on their site. You can see their response here or by following the link in the comment section below. I'd like to give Instablogs credit for a rapid and professional response. Thanks folks.)

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