Citizen Media Watch

mars 2nd, 2008

Hard times for bloggers and journalists in Sri Lanka

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Living in Sweden, and especially taking an active part in covering and exploring social and citizen media, I take many things for granted. One is the right to take photos in public areas, another to report about what I see and opinions and thoughts I have on any thinkable subject.

In other parts of the world, however, those simple actions can get you into serious trouble. I recently read an article in AsiaMedia about the situation in Sri Lanka. The country is the world’s third most dangerous place for journalists to operate, with only Iraq and Somalia being more deadly. Seven journalists were killed there in 2007.

Pedestrians who use their cellphones to film bomb attacks or even everyday events get questioned by police, and it’s not only authorities that pose a threat to reporters or anyone with a camera. There’s a trend of citizens not turning to the tools of citizen media to improve their situation, but instead turning against anyone trying to do this, or anyone remotely suspected of it.

Anyone with a still or video camera in public is immediately suspected as a ”trouble-maker.” This endangers our right to click and shoot for personal or professional purposes.

Despite this, however, there is a movement of citizen journalism, though it’s a lonely and vulnerable job, especially with a decrease in democracy in recent years. New media activist Sanjana Hattotuwa is interviewed, and says:

– In Sri Lanka, the significant deterioration of democracy in 2006-2007 has resulted in a country where anxiety and fear overwhelm a sense of civic duty to bear witness to so much of what is wrong. No amount of mobile phones and PCs is going to magically erase this deep rooted fear of harm for speaking one’s mind out.

The article writer, Nalaka Gunawardene, brings up an example which clearly shows the poor state of democracy and the hardship for bloggers in Sri Lanka.

A fellow blogger recently wrote a moving piece about a 65-year-old woman who sells fruits and vegetables at her local market in Colombo. The story behind the story was how the blogger had been surrounded and questioned by four men and the police, who demanded to know whether she had ”permission from the municipality to photograph.”

Luckily, the vegetable sellers came to her rescue. ”They… said they asked me to come with the camera to take some photographs of them,” she wrote.

But she posed the question: ”Do we have to have a camera license like a gun license of yesteryear?”

(via Social Media)


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januari 2nd, 2008

New year and blog vacation

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Happy new year, all!

I’ll start this year off with a 2 month vacation from this blog. I’ll be travelling during January and Febuary, and post updates in The Many Faces of L., but won’t do much here at Citizen Media Watch. See you in March, when I start my new job as managing editor at Broaden Community.


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december 23rd, 2007

Hyper local – Åsbro

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

I once more welcome Gitta Wilén as a guest contributor here at Citizen Media Watch. This time she has interviewed a hyperlocal blogger, Alf Fransson.

Alf Fransson, hyperlocal blogger in Åsbro, Sweden.

Map over ÅsbroAlf Fransson, 69, is blogging about a small area 1.3 Swedish miles from Askersund in Närke, Sweden. By putting up his own placards at the local petrol station/grocery store, he has managed to engage the people who are living in the area to read and to give response to his blog material.

The Åsbro blog has been up and running since the beginning of this November 2007. Fransson says that he got inspired to start blogging by his stepdaughter. The address for the blog is estabo.blogspot.com. Estabo is the name of the place in Åsbro where Fransson lives.
– I did not want to use the blog address ”asbro”, because it is Swedish for something else but Åsbro, he laughs.

There are 1.600 people living in Åsbro and Fransson’s blog is about things which concern the inhabitants: ”Do we need efficient street-lighting?”, ”Why is there cable worth over a million lying down by the lake ‘Åsasjön’?” and ”What is going on at the Åsbro kursgård?”

Fransson has been visiting and writing about the companies in the area. One of the companies is Alfapac, which is Åsbro’s largest industry and employs about 80 people.
– It gives me the chance to satisfy my own curiosity as well as getting material for my blog, he says.

BirdThere are some musicians and authors living in Åsbro and Fransson has plans for future blogging:
– I am thinking about interviewing people. I would like to write about personalities in the field of culture, he says.

Fransson also wants to blog about interesting places to visit in the area. Not so well known excursion spots.
– Most of the people do not see the beauty of their own neighbourhood, Fransson says and adds:
– There is an old sacrificial well situated in the forest that I would like to show to you and my readers.


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november 3rd, 2007

How many Swedish blogs are there?

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

I’m trying to get a grasp of the Swedish blogosphere, to answer the simple question of how many Swedish blogs there are. Simple, that is, until you start digging into it. Then you realize immediately that you have to limit yourself to Swedish blogs on Swedish blog services, as there are no country-specific statistics on for example wordpress.com or blogspot.com (none that I’ve found, please alert me if you know of any), and there are countless other services out there.
And also that you will never get an exact number.

I found Anton Johansson’s excellent list of blog portals and services from January this year, and I’ve used it as a starting point, updating the numbers for the different services, withdrawing some that doesn’t exist anymore and adding some new ones.

This is a first draft, and I hope to get comments, contributions and corrections making it better. The numbers are rounded to the closest hundred blogs and are taken from official statistics at the different sites. Note that some of these numbers indicate the total number of blogs whereas others (blogg.se and webblogs.se) show the number of blogs active during the past 30 days.

Blogg.se: 111 200 blogs active in the past 30 days
Passagen: 25 900 blogs
Bloggorama: A total of 19 100 blogs on seven domains, of which Blogspace.se is the largest with 14 400 blogs
Aftonbladet Blogg: 15 400 blogs
Bloggagratis: 10 600 blogs
Blogdog: 8 600 blogs
Weblog.se: 8 400 blogs active in the past 30 days
Expressen: 7 200 blogs
Bloggis: 6 800 blogs
Tjejsajten: 4 900 blogs
Blogtown: 3 900 blogs (members – which seems to be the same thing at this site)
Veckorevyn: 900 blogs

The total number of blogs from these services amounts to 223 000 blogs. Now, that’s quite a lot of blogs. However, there are a lot of issues that makes this number less interesting.

  • It is not a measurement of the number of active blogs
  • There are Swedish blog services not included. I found no statistics on Blogga.nu, Blogs.se or Mobilblogg.nu. I disregarded Egenblog.se which only had 15 blogs.
  • I have probably missed some services alltogether. Please let me know.
  • There’s no way of knowing which percentage of the total number of Swedish blogs this number represents. One vague indication of the number of Swedish blogs on blogspot and wordpress is the number of blogs from these services that are registered on Bloggportalen. There are 4 627 blogspot blogs there, or 26 percent of the total number of blogs on Bloggportalen. There are 605 wordpress.com blogs.
    I can’t even make a qualified guess of the number of blogs on their own domain.

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november 1st, 2007

Personality analysis as a way of reaching people more effectively

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Mattias ÖstmarQualitative analytics of blogs is Mattias Östmar‘s focus in his startup PRfect analys, which he presented at Daytona Sessions.
– I like methods of measurement, and I like to define things, he says with a smile.

– Marketing used to be about mass communication. It won’t die out, but targeted marketing will compete with it.
It is harder today to reach out to an audience. You have to be better and more funny. Reach as the only measurement of success will not work.

Media becomes a number of conversations. Getting a full coverage of media will be close to impossible when everyone becomes a publisher. The concept of journalism will be more vague.

When form is separated from content, the channel is never as important as the person behind the message, Mattias says. Who you listen to is a person like yourself.

Personality type testing is important, because you need to know what drives people. What ticks them off. There are different type theories. Östmar shows Keirsey’s types.

Your choice of words communicate your personality. Analysing the words in blog posts will tell what personality the blog has. It becomes much harder when you bring in context as a parameter.

He asks for a bit of help with the business model.
– I’ll buy you a beer!
…though the main theory is that if you can predict people’s needs, you can reach them more effectively. That should indeed be interesting to marketers and communicators.


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september 10th, 2007

Swedish blog aims at becoming a local The Onion

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Doug LanskyDoug Lansky is the guy behind Sweden’s first real attempt at a clone of the Onion, named Faktumé. He’s an American travel writer and lecturer living in Stockholm with his Swedish wife and three kids.
I asked Doug about satire writing for Swedes, among other things.

This is the original interview which I translated and edited into this article on aftonbladet.se.

What brings you to Sweden?
– You could probably figure it out with one guess… the weather in November. No, naturally it was a Swedish woman. We met in 1991 while we were both tågluffare (interrailers). I’ve been visiting Sweden off and on since then, but have only lived here the last six years. Now I feel more at home in Sweden in many ways than I do in the US.

Are you still working as a travel writer?
– Yes. That and giving lectures about travel (with National Geographic Adventure Magazine) is my main income. Lately, I’ve been writing a lot for The Guardian. Before that I was writing a column in Scanorama for three years and writing/editing the rest of the travel section. Plus, I write books and various freelance magazine and newspaper pieces, including some political satire for Esquire Magazine.

Why do you think nobody’s used the Onion’s formula in Sweden?
– Hard to say. So many things have worked well in both the US and Sweden – The Simpsons, Abba, Seinfeld, Ikea, On the internet side, Tjuvlyssnat was successfully taken from ”Overheard in New York.” Producing original material is considerably more demanding, though, and writing humor is one of the most challenging formats. Spermaharen was close to The Onion’s formula. It had a little more absurd humor than The Onion and was less news oriented. Grönköpings Veckobladet feels – in my eyes, anyway – quite dry and seems to be aiming at an older audience.

Is writing satire for Swedes different from doing it for Americans, you think?
– The basic approach is similar, I think. But you have to have a sense of the nuances of a culture to pull it off. I’ve learned loads living here, but it’s a work in progress. However, having a full grip on the culture is a work in progress for Swedes as well. So the more people you have to discuss with, the better. Fortunately, I have some Swedish friends (and a wife) who seem to enjoy this. It’s nice to throw in some silliness now and then, but when satire works best, it highlights a nugget of truth and presents it in a new and entertaining light. I like this example in The Onion: ”Bush Vows To Eliminate U.S. Dependence On Oil By 4920.”

What reactions have you got so far on Faktumé?
– So far the comments have been overwhelmingly good. The main complaint is that I’m not putting up five postings per day. At the moment, it’s just a labor of love. Still need to pay the bills. And spend time with my kids. So I can’t devote my entire day to this. I could put up a few entries a day, but I’m trying to concentrate on quality.

How come you don’t allow comments or trackbacks on the blog posts?
– I’ve seen on other sites that people sometimes use such comment areas as places to promote racism, sell penis enlargement services, offer to transfer millions of Euros from Nigerian banks and other things that probably shouldn’t be there. I just don’t have the time to go through and monitor all the comments. Also, for what it’s worth, The Onion has managed without comments as well.

Who else is writing the blog? I take it you write the English section and your Swedish friends write the Swedish versions?
– Something like that. There’s a bit of secrecy at this point (one friend, for example, works in Rosenbad and wishes to remain anonymous). Typically, it gets written in Swenglish by me, then translated by my wife or friends. We discuss the word choice and storyline and they point out any cultural reference opportunities I may have missed. Then I translate it back into English for the English version. No matter what language you write it in, it’s always good to show it around for some feedback, put it down for a little while and return to it with fresh eyes.

Perhaps irrelevant to Faktumé, but what are the most amusing signs you’ve found in Sweden? (Doug is the editor of
– Haven’t had any great ones from Sweden (mostly signs with the word ”fart”). Swedes have mastered English a bit too well. Even better than Americans, who seem to mess up the signs quite often.

Anything else you’d like to add about the blog or your exeriences with this project?
– Humor is the last thing you grasp when learning a foreign language. One of the most frustrating things about being a foreigner is to be in a room full of laughing people and be the only one who doesn’t understand the jokes. I’ve lived outside the US since 1991in many countries and know this frustration all too well. Even though most speak perfect English here, there’s very little humor (if any) translated into English. So for the tens of thousands of English speakers in Sweden, this may offer a unique window.


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juni 3rd, 2007

Slots available to give a presentation at PodCamp Europe

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

PodCamp Europe is coming up in ten days (June 12-13, in Stockholm, Sweden), and by the looks of it it will be a cool event. But there are still slots to fill in the presentation schedule. If you have something to say about podcasting, blogging or social media in general, don’t miss out on this opportunity.

What is PodCamp Europe? It’s an UnConference of podcasters, bloggers, and new media professionals & amateurs for two days to share, explore, challenge, and grow our abilities in new media. Learn about audio and video podcasting, blogging, photography, Second Life, Twitter, and all kinds of other new and social media tools. Whether you’re a veteran or interested in getting started, PodCamp is for YOU.

My personal requests/wishes for speakers/topics:

  • it would be nice to get a presentation from the guys from Twingly (who are coming to PodCamp anyway)
  • something on vlogging and how it’s developed
  • community management and trolls
  • creativity at the core – why all this tech stuff is just different tools of expression. I’d like to hear this from someone who expresses herself/himself creatively, an inspiring pep-talk with an artist’s perspective on the web, with examples of creative projects to join or steal ideas from ; )
  • gadgets – what are the best options for blogging and podcasting today
  • someone from trig.com – how’s it going?

What would you like to hear?

If you don’t want to make a presentation, make sure to sign up as a participant for PodCamp Europe anyway. If Hey2007 was cool in the way interaction and blogging in different ways was encouraged, I am hoping an unconference will be even more so. And as far as I know this will be the first unconference to be held in Sweden.


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maj 16th, 2007

Damon Rasti: When you can influence content you are more okay with ads

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Damon Rasti at Stockholm media week

Tjuvlyssnat.se is a Swedish version of the popular US blog ”Overheard in New York”. In a short period of time it has gained a great success, being the most read blog on Bloggportalen.se, and last summer the blog landed a book deal. The book is also very successful.

Last week Damon Rasti, one of the people behind the site, talked a bit about Tjuvlyssnat on Stockholm Media Week.
Tjuvlyssnat started out as a hobby project between Damon and his friend. They started publishing conversation they had overheard, and the site got a lot of attention. More and more people started contributing.
– It’s everyday conversation, but here they are collected in one place, said Rasti. It reminds you of gossip, but it is more innocent.
The people in the conversations are usually anonymous everyday people.
– It’s never been our intention to expose celebrities.

Tjuvlyssnat.se is ad financed, and it’s going very well.
– When you can influence and contribute content you are much more okay with ads. You understand they are necessary to keep the site going.

Rasti said he has many new projects coming up, one of them with a major media company. But as the papers were not yet signed, that was all he wanted to reveal. Also he’s working on a mashup and two new sites for young girls.


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maj 13th, 2007

Robin Hamman on the pilot BBC project in Manchester

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Robin HammanThe BBC is a media company in the forefront when it comes to working with its users, letting them contribute in different ways. One of their projects that I’ve been following for a while is the Manchester blogging project, a pilot study where editors work closely with a community of local bloggers.
Last Thursday I had the privilege to meet with Robin Hamman, Senior Broadcast Journalist at the BBC, and one of the people behind the project in Manchester. We were both invited to speak at a seminar on citizen media at the University in Karlstad, along with web advisor Fredrik Wackå.
Robin has a friendly, bubbly personality and is easy to like, traits that no doubt is a great help both when working with fellow journalists and when workshopping with budding bloggers. Like me he runs several blogs, some private and some in his professional role.
The key features of the Manchester blogging projects, Robin said, are that the BBC has no ownership of the blogs and doesn’t manage any content.
Thus it is fairly cost efficient and they don’t have to worry about the legal aspects. Instead what they do is they help people get started blogging, then promote their stuff.
(Robin Hamman prefers the word ”stuff” to content, or worse ”UGC”. I can sympathize with that. I think we need new words for ”the stuff formerly known as user generated content”.)
The BBC hosts blogging workshops in Manchester where people can come and learn how to blog and why. To take part in the project, bloggers need to adhere to the BBC’s ethical rules. But they don’t seem too strict.
– Bloggers must care about the guidelines, Hamman said. The really, really bad ones.
Some small breaks of the rules seem okay, and Hamman also encourages the bloggers in the project to mail him if they plan to break the rules, so that he can remove the links.
One of the bloggers in the project has been employed by the BBC – their first ”blogging correspondent – but apart from that, they blog for free. What the bloggers get out of it is of course the traffic the links on the BBC Manchester website generate.


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april 20th, 2007

Hej! 2007 coverage

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

hej 2007 logoTomorrow’s Hej! 2007 conference in Stockholm will focus on web 2.0. I’ll be attending the conference and will try to blog as much as I can, live, in texts and photos. Whether on this blog or on my personal blog will depend on how much relevance the subjects will have to citizen media. The photos will probably end up on my Flickr account.

From the description of the spirit of Hej! 2007 it sounds great:

We don’t want it to be some stuffy old seminar where everyone sits for hours on end. We want people to talk, walk, mingle, laugh and cheer. Oh. And we really don’t like suits. Jeans are cool. So leave your suits at home and bring that laptop and a healthy dose of enthusiasm and cheer!

Here’s an article in Swedish on Hej! 2007 and the importance of credibility and trust as users come more into focus online. Eric Wahlforss and Alexander Ljung are ”trust consultants”, and two of tomorrow’s speakers. They will talk about some of their experiences from a three month study trip in the US. Should be interesting.
Here’s the list of all speakers.


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