By Princess Fatimah Tariq
Today, blogs are no longer only meant for people to publish their opinions. It has also become a platform to market products, raise awareness of global issues, advertise, earn money or even get a job.
In the Asian continent, blogs revolutionized the Asian culture. Asians became more open in voicing out their say and used blogging as a platform to reach people from other parts of the world. According to a study by Sanjana Hattotuwa, Asian bloggers started to become active when they experienced something that shook their lives. For instance, the Tsunami caused Sri Lankans and Indonesians to share their experience through blogs. In Thailand, bloggers helped overthrow Thaksin by galvanizing public opinion. The Mumbai terror attack got citizens to reflect upon the disaster online and discuss the next steps the Indian government should take against Terrorism (Hattotuwa, 2010).
Asian bloggers are growing at an increasing speed. China alone, which currently has the world’s largest Internet user population, possesses more than 50 million bloggers (Hameed, 2009). The rapid population growth of bloggers has affected a number of media industries, to name a few, Journalism, Advertising and Government organizations.
Journalism now feels threatened by bloggers. The public sees blog entries as unbiased, the most transparent and honest views with regards to news reports and opinions. Blogs are also preferred, as it allows people to read news around the world from a first person’s point of view. Moreover, blogs feature more news than journalism does, as there are more bloggers than journalists. One of the main reasons why Journalism feels risked by the blog industry is because blogs are easily accessible and are free for readers as compared to news articles, which charge a fee.
Blogs also created a new marketing/advertising platform for products and various markets. The strong influence of blog opinion has driven companies to pay bloggers to write about their product or upcoming event. One example would be the blog known as Whatshappening.sg, a Singapore famous blog that informs readers of the upcoming or on-going events in Singapore. Companies would pay Whatshappening.sg an agreed amount to write about its upcoming event to reach out to the blog’s followers. In addition, there are also companies such as Holiday Inn, Emirates and Malaysia Tourism that advertise on famous blogs and pay the blogger for per click of the advertisement. In this case, blogs help companies to advertise.
Blogs also give the government a hard time. This increasingly popular, new medium has its restrictions, especially in Asian countries. Blogs being an accessible, free medium attracts Internet users to create a blog and start writing. This comes as a danger to the government, since people are easily able to blog on sensitive topics like religion, government policies and terrorism. As stated in an article dated 8th January 2008 by Teymoor Nabili, bloggers should be careful of what they write as sensitive topics could lead to a major conflict (Nabili, 2010). The Government keeps a close eye on blog content. BBC News, 2008 states that, “In 2007 three times as many people were arrested for blogging about political issues than in 2006”. “More than half of all the arrests since 2003 have been made in China, Egypt and Iran” (BBC News Report, 2008). This also tells us the dominance of Asian countries in the blogging industry.
The blogging Industry is expected to continue growing in the next few years, reason being many developing Asian countries have just recently been introduced to the Internet. On the other hand, companies are coming into the habit of creating their own “company blog” to personalize their reach to their target audience e.g. the well-known Japanese company Mitsubishi now has a blog supported by blogger.com that markets its latest car models. It is foreseen that very soon all companies will have their own blog. Lastly, Asians are predicted to go out of hand with their freedom of expression on blogs that could possibly stir up a war on its own. Countries that are more likely to go out of control with published content on blogs are Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Indonesia due to the instability of the country.
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