Category: Archive

A shower of bloggards

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Like Gawker, Blogorrah makes full use of Web-based video and camera technologies, and of course, YouTube, giving readers the opportunity to share in moments of broadcasting gold such as an episode last November where a drunken intruder stormed the stage during a live taping of “The Late, Late Show.”
The team behind Blogorrah comprises three Dublin-born writers: John Ryan, the publisher and brains behind glamorous canine magazines, “The New York Dog,” and “Hollywood Dog,” “Editor Emeritus,” AKA Derek O’Connor and editor Larry Ryan.
“I guess the basic notion was that there’s no one definitive source for Irish news above and beyond the most basic stuff,” O’Connor explained recently over coffee in SoHo, where Blogorrah’s office is located. “We thought it would be fun to do something that was kind of a one-stop-shop for everything and anything that kind of popped up on the radar. To act as a bit of a filter for what’s out there. And we’re all fans of this Web site Gawker, so we kind of worked from there.”
Since it first went online last April, Blogorrah has built up a weekly readership of 30,000. Despite pitching itself at an Irish immigrant audience, however, the Web site has actually attracted more interest in Ireland, where 70 percent of the readership is based.
“We anticipated it to some degree because there was no Irish Web site of its like, but I don’t think we ever expected it would impact so directly,” said O’Connor, who moved to New York from Dublin in 2005.
“A lot of people assume that it’s based in Ireland. But we’re also very big on this whole Planet Ireland notion. There are millions of people worldwide who consider themselves to be first-generation Irish.”
Damien Mulley, a Cork-based blogger (www.mulley.net), who set up the inaugural Irish Blogging Awards last year, believes there is a huge demand amongst within the Irish blogosphere for original, high quality blogs (the term is derived from Web log).
“Irish bloggers are great bloggers,” said Mulley, who is planning to add several new categories to this year’s awards lineup to accommodate the wide range of topics Irish people are blogging about.
“There are some fantastic writers out there, but it’s difficult to get published, you have to go through certain channels. Whereas with a blog, you can get stuff out there right away. It’s a platform for every to speak, and to have an audience.”
The Irish blogosphere has grown exponentially in recent years, to the worry of more traditional media outlets, who fear the increasing popularity of blogging will cost them business, as it has done in the U.S.
“In America, blogs have had a huge institutional impact. People have lost jobs. But I think the social impact will be far greater in Ireland,” according to Dublin-based solicitor Simon McGarr, who runs tuppenceworth.ie, an Irish current affairs blog and internet magazine loosely based on U.S. based Salon.com.
“Free speech is a strong tradition in the U.S., it’s not as strong in Ireland. It’s going to be a big shock. For a long time in Ireland, RTE has been the mediator of who speaks and who is heard. And RTE has a curious relationship with the government. Now you have blogs like irishelection.com, where people who are interested in the electoral process can discuss their views. While these kinds of conversations have occurred in the past, it was usually around a table in a pub. Now it’s taking place online where it can be picked up and seen. You type in a candidate’s name to a google search, and these blogs will also appear.”
Twenty Major, a Dublin based blogger whose dry observations about Irish life earned him several accolades at the Irish Blogging Awards last year (www.twenty major.blogspot.com), thinks Irish newspapers “don’t understand the medium of blogging.”
“The media are a little afraid of blogs,” he said, speaking to the Echo last week.
“They should do what the Guardian newspaper is doing, which is to embrace the technology in a good way. Their Web site have great blogs about art and politics alongside the main newspaper. It should be complementary.”
With a general election coming up this year, many bloggers feel the true impact of Irish blocking will be tested.
“Unlike the U.S., I don’t think there are enough readers for blogging to make a direct impact on this election,” McGarr said.
“There won’t be a Howard Dean. What I think may well happen in this election cycle is that blogging will inject new voices and ideas into the current debate and what newspapers are printing. There’s a strong possibility that the same government will be elected this time around. That will make 23 out of 25 years. In that situation, it will be very healthy to hear some new voices.”
O’Connor thinks blogging has the potential to significantly impact on the election outcome.
“It’s going to be a bloggers election,” he said. “An Irish election has never been held up for the kind of scrutiny that bloggers can offer. The majority of Irish media tows a certain line: this is how we’re supposed to feel, this is how we’re supposed to react. I think there’s an irreverence that blogging can offer. I think the bloggers are a lot more in touch with the people, whose views are a lot more mixed, a lot more confused and, in some cases, a lot more apathetic than people think.”
The Blogorrah team is keen to get involved with the election; their next step is to start up a more politically-based Irish blog, akin to the Huffington Post, that will give Irish bloggers a forum in which to discuss and openly debate political matters.
“We’re huge fans of ‘The Daily Show,’ we’re huge fans of Colbert, huge fans of the Onion,” said O’Connor.
“There’s not a lot of great satire in Ireland at the moment. Back in the ’70s you had the some, but now it’s quite patchy, very hit and miss.”

Keeping in touch with home…some good Irish blogs

1 – Blogorrah.com
An irreverent look at daily Irish news and culture, with plenty of celebrity gossip thrown in.

2 – Tuppenceworth.ie
A Dublin-based current affairs blog and Internet magazine that features essays on diverse topics from the rise of Bebo culture to cars that run on plant oil.

3 – Irishblogs.ie
A comprehensive roundup of best of the day’s Irish and Irish-related blogs

4 – Irishelection.com
A great blog for anyone who is interested in Irish politics. In the lead up to the 2007 election, Irishelection.com offers a forum for bloggers to express their views.

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5 – Barefootfan.com
A sports blog for expat Irish missing their daily dose of GAA, rugby, soccer – and of course, breaking Wives And Girlfriends (WAG) news…

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