MEDIA WATCHDOG: Mobbies or Scammies?

Street Talk MEDIA WATCHDOG: Mobbies or Scammies?

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Baltimore is full of talented blogs, many of which I read every day — like this one for instance. I’m amazed at the dedication these scribes put into their own websites for little or no pay. They do it because they love it and it shows. Well, most of the time.

To “celebrate” these bloggers, the Baltimore Sun hosts an annual award ceremony crowning the best websites, Facebook pages, Instagram and Reddit accounts in various different categories. The fifth annual “Mobbies” take place on November 19 and the polls are open for voting for another week.

On the surface, the “Mobbies” seem like a great way for Baltimore’s big media to congratulate the little guys. The local newspaper that has been around since 1873 spends their own money to host a fun get-together for the independent writers. What’s wrong with that?

I’ve never been to the “Mobbies” or casted my vote on because I’m firmly against the clever marketing ploy that is being pulled. The whole thing is nothing but a promotional tool for the Sun and disrespects those who write for independent publications.

A number of the nominated websites are in reality direct competitors to the Baltimore Sun. Our increasing digital world now puts online companies on the same playing field as newspapers that have been around for over 100 years. Especially when said newspapers alienate their readers by putting up online paywalls and charging people to read their content on a computer, tablet or smartphone.

These blogs don’t need to be congratulated by the Sun. The “major bragging rights” the “Mobbies” promise to offer its winners pales in comparison to a few hundred thousand page views. You ask the bloggers which is more important.

Everyday the Sun’s audience gets smaller. Do you think college students are having physical newspapers delivered to their dorm rooms? It’s an entire generation of people who will never subscribe to the old newspaper business model, but the “Mobbies” help the Sun stay relevant.

In addition to celebrating these independent publications, the Baltimore Sun is also collecting your email addresses for their future marketing strategies. Check out the voting rules:

To be eligible, a voter must be a registered user of Registered users get one vote per category per 24-hour period. Blogs are listed in random order.

How convenient. So if the Sun’s “competitors” want to win an award they have to share their email address with the Sun. Got it.

A number of local publications have fallen victim to this ploy and use that “Mobbie” as a medal of honor in the blogosphere. They beg for votes by sending out emails, tweets and Facebook messages to friends and family asking them to register with the Sun and vote every 24 hours.

Why every 24 hours? Because they keep you coming back, it’s all about page views. It’s much easier to sell advertising if you can say that your audience is consistently returning to your publication.

So let’s look this over again. The Baltimore Sun gets bloggers to register for an account, vote for themselves every 24 hours and help build their email address database by sharing with friends and family and in return they get — well, a party on November 19.

Don’t waste your time.

Don’t be fooled by this clever marketing trick.

Long live new media.

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Michael O'Nair

About Michael O'Nair

The Media Watchdog has been lurking, observing the local and national sports media for quite some time. He’s connected, in it and clandestine. Like Batman is to Bruce Wayne, the Media Watchdog is to Michael O’Nair.

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