I was very busy at work, and then busy with the trip to New York, so I was in a bit of a self-focused bubble. But I’m hearing that the bloggers’ trip has created a bit of a kerfuffle around the soaposphere.
Mainly, why bloggers? (Or, how the hell did HE get to go?)
These are good questions.
People have been scratching their heads and asking:
Why not the mainstream press, or the mainstream soap press? Why didn’t [insert name of any well-known soap reporter working for a major publication or website here] get invited?
Why bloggers – they’re just fans with a lot of extra time on their hands, right? Just show them the shiny things and they’ll love you!
Jordan Clarke (Billy) wondered about us. “I know what you do is important,” he said, before admitting he wasn’t entirely clear what we do, or what exactly we write about. (Although he did mention that Kim Zimmer is “fearless” online, and jumps head first into online discussions.)
So, why bloggers?
I may be, as I said in my last post, a fan. But I am also an experienced writer and journalist. And I’ve had many years of experience working backstage in theater, so it’s a familiar milieu to me – the setting, the actors, the egos. Believe me, my bullshit detector was set to Extra Sensitive during my entire visit!
It may seem unobjective for me to say so – after all, I was just a guest of the show’s and a recipient of their generosity. But I think this was a smart move on their part.
Until last week, I wrote articles and blog entries for a major communications/public relations entity. My content was objective and journalistically sound, but it was there as a “value added” way to draw people to the Web site. My ultimate job was to wave the flag for the site, and make people click.
It’s actually encouraging to me that the show is looking at alternate ways to publicize the show. I noticed last week that the show has a Facebook page. These avenues are not only smart ways to spread the word, but almost required in this environment. Just as I tried to get more people to view my Web site and increase the page views, the show should be using the Internet and social media to increase their “page views” – or clicks in the Nielsen box.
I think it was also a smart move on their part as a way of bypassing the blockades of traditional press and traditional soap press. There are many hardworking, amazing writers who work on bigger, louder, more comprehensive platforms that this wimpy little WordPress blog of mine. But they are either working for institutions or are institutions in their own right. And over the years, institutions can become inflexible and unresponsive.
It appears unlikely that Soap Opera Digest will ever again in its publication lifetime put a P&G show on its cover. That’s an astounding thought and a sad one. And yes, P&G is often on the subscriber covers and more people see those, blah, blah, blah. But newsstand copies are the public face of the magazine, and a promotional tool as well.
I realize that other shows and other stories have had bigger and louder buzz, but even if I wasn’t an ATWT fan (or a gay man) I would have clearly recognized Luke/Noah as an enormous story for ATWT, and put one or both actors on the cover. That never happened.
I also think that one of the great things bloggers offer is a balance between official soap press, and anonymous fan commentary. While on this trip, our blogging group talked about anonymity on the Internet. It can be a great thing, but it can also be ugly and counterproductive. Witness the Jossip thread about Carolyn Hinsey this summer. It had valuable content (people sharing actual experiences re: Hinsey) that was soon overwhelmed by incredibly ugly commentary about Hinsey’s appearance.
I think bloggers have their ear to the ground, and we can hear fan commentary and share it in a very focused way with our readers. I realize that gossip can be fun, and that there’s entertainment value in saying “I can’t believe XYZ wore that hideous dress – doesn’t she have a MIRROR in her house?” But I think there’s a time and a place for that (and a Web site, too).
I think just as the industry itself evolves and tries to survive, the shows are smart to do what they can to keep our awareness of them alive, as well. One thing that was driven home time and time again during my stint at my “day job” was how flexible and responsive a company must be to be successful.
Though the classic storytelling vehicle for daytime should never go out of style, other parts of its business model will need to change and become more malleable and flexible in order to remain viable.