Broward's Sun Sentinel announced its Best of Blogs award winners this past Wednesday. On the chilly night, local bloggers, along with their family and friends, gathered around the fire pit at Yolo's on Las Olas Boulevard.
Bloggers came from all over South Florida, as far south as the Keys and as far north as West Palm Beach. Many of the blogs that won are published by folks in the 305. Camera bad boy and champion of first amendment justice Carlos Miller took the big prize with Best Overall Blog for Photography is Not A Crime. Additional Miami-Dade winners included Midtown Chica for Best Neighborhood Blog, A Mom, A Blog and a Life In-Between for Best Family Blog, Sex and the Beach (yours truly) for Best Humor Blog, Miami Beach 411 for Best News Blog, Miami New Times' own Crossfade for Best Music Blog, among others.
The full list of winners is here.
The contest was not without controversy. Because anyone could nominate
a blog, many of those blogs that made the ballot were questionable in
their bloginess, which begs the question "What Makes a Good Blog?" -- something uber-blogger Rick from South Florida Daily Blog asked yesterday.
well, people could vote for their favorite blogs once a day, which led
to the inevitable high school popularity contest, with Photography Is
contest was a clever way to drive traffic to the newspaper's website --
a brief sign-up was required to vote -- but it was also a decent
attempt at good blogger outreach.
Silicon Beach has a few recommendations for the Sun Sentinel or any newspaper willing to give recognition to local blogs.
1. Ask yourself: is it really a blog?
blog is a platform for publishing: it's a vessel for content, a blank
slate for topics that can vary as wildly as the people who publish
blogs. Today, the word "blog" is practically meaningless, though we've
got to call it something.
2. However, just because a blog can be "anything" doesn't mean "everything"
should be considered a blog.
The disparity in the quality of
blogs in this particular contest was striking. While it is inevitable
that a competition like this boil down to who can get the most votes, by
no means does the list of final winners truly represent the best of
South Florida blogs. Many fine blogs on the ballot never even made it
close to top ranking.
To raise standards in such a competition,
other criteria should be considered:
- How old is the blog?
it active? How frequently does the blog publish?
- Is the main
purpose of the blog to sell a product or does it actually provide useful and/or entertaining information?
- Is it really local or only pretending to be so?
it simply regurgitate someone else's content?
- Is it just an
aggregator? Is it spam?
- How well does the blog represent its category?
there a real person behind the blog? Someone who's truly invested in
3. Vet the ballot.
Anybody can nominate a blog, but care
should be taken to review blogs before putting them on the ballot.
This is especially important when pitting blogs published by corporate
entities against individuals who don't monetize their blogs. Corporate
blogs -- blogs that sell goods or services even by individuals -- should be in their own category. Also, blogs should be limited to one category.
4. Reach out to as many bloggers as possible.
well-established and worthy local blogs were never even nominated.
Spend some time exploring local blog rolls. Word of mouth isn't
enough. South Florida Daily Blog is a good example to follow. Rick
does weekly, monthly and yearly contests but they're well curated
because he reads everything on his blog roll and is familiar with who's
who and who's doing what in the local blog scene. Recently, Rick even
created an editorial board to review post of the month nominees.
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Beach congratulates the Sun Sentinel for its efforts in highlighting
the local blog scene and hopes that future efforts will be even better
with input from bloggers and their readers.