Shortlisted Blog Removed from Irish Blog Awards

February 14, 2008 at 1:30 am 16 comments

Irish Blog Awards

I respect the initiative and hard work behind the Irish Blog Awards, and I am pleased that That’s Ireland is on two shortlists. However, the judges have removed Towleroad, an international gay news blog that includes Irish-related content, from the shortlist for Best News and Current Affairs Blog, with the needlessly offensive explanation: ‘Woah nelly. Not Irish by any definition.’ >>>

(Awkward disclosure of interest: That’s Ireland is on the same shortlist as Towleroad. I have tried not to let that influence this post.)

Towleroad obviously has enough Irish relevance to have reached the shortlist in the first place. Here are some examples of posts on Towleroad of Irish interest:

To put its removal in perspective, the various shortlists also include the following excellent blogs, all of which fully deserve their places:

I’d like to think that the judges will reconsider this decision, and return Towleroad to the shortlist that it reached by both being an important, informative blog, and also by satisfying whatever definition of ‘Irish’ that was used in first round of judging.

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Entry filed under: Blogs, Culture, Ireland.

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16 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Robin  |  February 14, 2008 at 4:15 am

    Hi –

    First, I don’t think the content (RE: Gay) has anything to do with the removal. So you can’t bring that into the debate and didn’t need to mention it in your post.

    1/ First look for me – it certainly doesn’t look Irish. To be fair, read their About Page, all US centric. http://www.towleroad.com/towleroad/1988/05/_towleroad_is_w.html

    2/ What makes a blog Irish? I would say an Irish author or an Author living in Ireland.

    If the owner of the site would like to make their claim for Irish blog known, I’m sure they’d be back in.

    3/ How did you see the comment “Woah nelly. Not Irish by any definition”?

    4/ I also don’t understand why you’ve listed the other blogs (including mine) in this post? What point are you making?

    🙂

    Reply
  • 2. Robin  |  February 14, 2008 at 4:16 am

    Ok – scratch item 3.. I see it now on http://awards.ie/blogawards/2008/02/11/irish-blog-awards-2008-shortlists/

    Reply
  • 3. Damien Mulley  |  February 14, 2008 at 9:21 am

    it’s not an Irish Blog. It doesn’t matter if it dedicates some of it’s time to Irish matters. I’d also like you to explain how the explanation was “needlessly offensive”. How was it offensive?

    Reply
  • 4. Michael Nugent  |  February 14, 2008 at 9:52 am

    Robin,

    You make several other good points, and I’m going to answer them in two responses: (1) What is an Irish Blog?; and (2) Towleroad and the Shortlist.

    (1) What is an Irish Blog?

    You ask what makes a blog Irish, and you suggest that it is ‘an Irish author or an author living in Ireland’. I intuitively agree, but technically that describes the blogger not the blog.

    A blog does reflect some of the opinions of its authors, but it is also a distinct entity that of itself has no national identity, or certainly not one that automatically follows that of its author. An Irish author could write a non-Irish blog, or a non-Irish author could write an Irish blog.

    So what makes a blog (as opposed to a blogger) Irish? Here’s my opinion.

    It could be (a) that the author’s Irishness, or Irish influences on a non-Irish author, are reflected in the blog, or (b) that it includes Irish-related content, or content that Irish readers see as relevant to them, or (c) that it includes comments posted by Irish people, particularly debating Irish-related content, but also debating anything that they see as relevant to them, or (d) any number of other options that I am unaware of.

    At its most inclusive, and given that identity is partly objective then ultimately self-determined, an Irish blog would be any blog that anybody who is Irish considers to have Irish-related or Irish-influenced content, or content that they see as relevant to themselves as Irish readers or contributors.

    (2) Towleroad and the Shortlist

    You say that, ‘at first look’, Towleroad doesn’t look Irish. I agree with you. Later, you ask why I have listed other Irish blogs in my post. Well, I am making essentially the same point: that, ‘at first look’, many blogs may not look Irish, even though they are.

    So, in fairness, you have to go beyond the first look, particularly if you are judging a competition. If you do this with Towleroad, you can find within a few seconds the type of Irish-related news and current affairs items that I have linked to in my post.

    Whatever the word ‘Irish’ means in the phrase ‘Irish Blog Awards’, Towleroad obviously satisfied this definition to the extent that (a) somebody considered it Irish enough to nominate it; and (b) it got past the first round of judging in this category. Then, for whatever reason, it became ‘Woah nelly. Not Irish by any definition’.

    Clarification

    Finally, Robin, I share your view that Towleroad’s gay content was not the reason that it was removed. I am sorry that my original post implied otherwise.

    I have changed the title from ‘Gay News Blog Removed from Irish Blog Awards’ to ‘Shortlisted Blog Removed from Irish Blog Awards’, and I have changed the description of Towleroad from ‘a gay news blog’ to ‘an international gay news blog that includes Irish-related content’.

    This is a more relevant description to the point that I am making.

    Reply
  • 5. Michael Nugent  |  February 14, 2008 at 9:53 am

    Damien,

    I’ve described in the previous comment why I believe that it is an Irish blog. I know that this is at least partly subjective, but I would be interested to hear your definition of an Irish blog, and your opinion on my definition above.

    Regarding the ‘Woah nelly’ comment, I find it offensive to the authors, readers and commenters on the blog, because it implies that their Irish-related news and current affairs posts are not as ‘Irish’ as they would be if they appeared on another blog that was more ‘Irish’.

    I also find it offensive to whoever, in good faith, nominated the blog because it implies that they were either (a) chancing their arm by nominating a blog that they knew should not be nominated, or else (b) too stupid to realize that the blog was somehow ‘not Irish by any definition’.

    In my opinion, neither of these is the case. In my opinion, what has happened is that the judges have, for whatever reason, changed whatever subjective criteria they had used to allow this blog to reach the shortlist in the first place.

    By the way, I have no problem in principle with offensive comments being made – I don’t believe there is any right to not be offended – and I am sure that I have and will continue to offend many people with some of my comments.

    Reply
  • 6. Robin  |  February 14, 2008 at 10:55 am

    I’m done here.

    Reply
  • 7. Suzy Byrne  |  February 14, 2008 at 11:10 am

    Towleroad is a great blog but it’s not an Irish Blog or a blog written about Ireland or by someone living in Ireland. Whomever nominated it nominated it because it is a great blog probably!

    If it were admitted then so should all the other blogs that include Irish content – and when you say include Irish content Michael you could include every news scraping service out there that scoops it’s content from the Press Association, Reuters, Breakingnews.ie – because Andy Towle’s Irish Content is reporting lgbt interest stories he finds elsewhere, he does Russian, French, Italian etc. etc. etc

    As do many other non Irish affiliated sites that include Pink Pages, The Advocate, Gay News, PageOneNews etc etc.

    And I contribute to this issue sheepishly also taking into account the fact that I am nominated in the same category.

    Reply
  • 8. James  |  February 14, 2008 at 11:18 am

    Is this for real? Next you’ll say that BBC is an Irish news site because they frequently update with stories about Ireland. I think some of their journalists are part Irish too.

    Reply
  • 9. SeanR  |  February 14, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    It must be highly embarrassing to have knocked one of the leading blogs in the world out of the listing because of Nationalism.

    This is an absolute public relations disaster for the Irish blog awards. Don’t you realise – even if Andy isn’t “really” Irish – how you could actually doff your cap to the globalised, consumption-led world of blogging and generate wonderful (free) publicity?

    I’ve been a reader of Andy Towle’s excellent blog for a number of years, and he does give some excellent, global coverage to Irish LGBT issues. His blog is testimony to the power of blogging in a globalised world. The fact that Irish consumers of blogs have nominated him demonstrates good taste and appreciation of his work. As he was voted for as an Irish blog, we might assume that coverage of Irish LGBT issues that also resonated with voters, so voters define the Irishness of a blog by how they consume online content.

    Some commentators have suggested Towleroad is not an Irish blog as it is not rooted in the national territory in some way. I find this rather interesting, as it demonstrates a rather delimiting idea of Irishness. Is Irishness defined by birthright, place of residence, etc. on a blog? As a sociologist, I would suggest that given that blogs only exist in cyberspace, the whole definition of Irishness has to be framed in terms of who consumes blogs. The awards are chosen online, by online consumers, who think whether online blogs focus well on Irish issues online, and they pick them online for an online Blog Award organiser. (Have you got the online bit again?) Also, there is a technology bit: the computer upon which I type is Compaq (hardly Irish) my message goes down the internet (hardly an Irish invention). If the blog isn’t real, is any blog really Irish?

    Then there’s the nationality bit. Nationality and belonging are hugely complex issues in the lived experience of people. If you put that into the context of cyberspace, can we draw defined borders based on an IP address? Isn’t Towleroad like the new Irish? Unilaterally excluding Towleroad is not that much different from suggesting the ‘new Irish’ are not really Irish after all. At play here, is another example of the erasure of what it means to be Irish. In my view, who/what is Irish in the blogosphere cannot be entirely framed in terms of production; rather it should be defined in terms of consumption. Surely, our enjoyment of Towleroad and other sites is based on how we consume blogs, rather than by an essentialist view of Irish identity. This is not relativism gone mad, but it is a call to pragmatism and PR.

    At the end of the day, does it matter if Andy Towle can dance ‘The Walls of Limerick’? As the Carlsberg advert (set in Rio) puts it, there is more than A or B, there is always C, which would be a more creative solution. Would the Irish blog awards benefit from including him? Would it generate global publicity for Irish bloggers to include him as an honorary Irishman? What school of PR leads anyone to think exclusionary practices are good tactics to promote blogging?

    Reply
  • 10. Twenty Major  |  February 14, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    As a sociologist, I would suggest that given that blogs only exist in cyberspace, the whole definition of Irishness has to be framed in terms of who consumes blogs.

    Does that mean I’m a Mexican because I might read a blog by someone who knows somebody else who once got an email from someone whose brother spent a day in Acapulco?

    I don’t think I’ve ever read such a load of crap in all my life.

    Reply
  • 11. Michael Nugent  |  February 14, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    Suzy and James – it depends on how you define ‘an Irish blog’. I accept that yours are valid definitions, but they are not the only ones. The Irish Blog Awards did not specify any definition of Irishness, so people nominated blogs in good faith based on their own definitions. In these circumstances, I believe that the judges should interpret Irishness as inclusively as possible.

    SeanR – you have articulated the point I was trying to make much more effectively than I did. This is about self-definitions of identity, and how personal identities relate with cyberspace identities.

    Twenty – as usual, that made me laugh out loud but no, it is not what Sean is suggesting. He is talking about the identity of a blog itself, not the identity of the people who are writing or reading it. That is, of course, assuming that a blog can even have an identity in the sense that Irishness is an identity, but we are assuming that anyway by having the ‘Irish Blog Awards.’

    I know that this sounds very theoretical, but that’s quite appropriate for discussions about cyberspace.

    Reply
  • 12. SeanR  |  February 14, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Blogs and identity politics – who’d have thought it? I’m obviously being too deep about it…

    It seems there is a bit of a dispute with my views about how territoriality is not so important as consumption. That’s a point about the transformation of late modernity culture, which may not seem important to local bloggers who are doing this work on their own, without much commercial/ advertising support.

    If you don’t get the point of my comment Twenty that’s fine, but I’m talking about Zygmunt Bauman’s take on late modern culture … In your blog, the stories of Bastardface and your other blogosphere stories, are a device by which you seek to critique Irish society in a panoptical style. No I don’t think you’re a Mexican, etc. but the sartorial weave of identity does mean that I can (as a consumer) pick and choose how I identify with it as a consumer – and some how people seemed to have picked Andy’s blog as an Irish one.

    The beef that many local bloggers seem to be expressing is how the Irish Blog Awards is aimed at cultivating local blogging culture and they are concerned that awarding Towleroad (non-Irish) does not fit with that exercise. Thus, many bloggers see the nomination from a producer viewpoint, whereas I take the stance of a consumer. Towleroad may not be ‘really Irish’ but his blog was nominated by consumers (readers) as an Irish blog in the first place. Pulling the nomination (whether it was categorically correct or not) was not the best PR move.

    It might have been better to have let the nomination process go ahead this year, have a bit of a laugh and enjoy the moment if Andy had won, and then move on next year with a tighter process of nominating blogs, and get on with promoting Irish blogging. It would have generated good publicity for the local producers of blogs, but I’m just supposing from the viewpoint of an outsider.

    Reply
  • 13. Twenty Major  |  February 14, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    In your blog, the stories of Bastardface and your other blogosphere stories, are a device by which you seek to critique Irish society in a panoptical style

    See, here’s your problem, Sean. You’re thinking too much.

    Anyway, what if people nominated countless blogs that weren’t Irish and had the vaguest connection to any kind of Irishness? Should they all have been allowed stand? How many non-Irish blogs should be permitted?

    The Irish blog awards are for Irish blogs. I think, if you asked Damien, you’d find the nominations have come from many countries so it does represent what readers all over the world find best about Irish blogs.

    Towleroad may not be ‘really Irish’

    Towleroad is not Irish at all. Surely that’s where this should end.

    Reply
  • 14. Declan Chellar  |  February 15, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    I’m confused by this whole thing.

    Is is the Blog Awards that are Irish?
    If that’s the case, then any blog in the world is eligible. You know, kind of like the Cannes Film Festival isn´t just for films made in or about Cannes.

    Is it that they are awards for blogs about Ireland?

    Is it that they are awards for blogs by bloggers from Ireland?

    Is it that they are awards for blogs by bloggers living in Ireland?

    It seems to me that debate here is a bit meaningless, so I popped over to the Irish Blog Awards site to see what their criteria are. However, it turns out they don’t have an “About the Irish Blog Awards” page or a “Criteria for nominating a blog”. How crap is that?

    Reply
  • 15. Twenty Major  |  February 15, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    I know, Irish blog is such a difficult concept.

    Reply
  • 16. Defining terms… : Salubri’s Journal  |  February 17, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    […] over and, coincidentally, some gay issues in Ireland = Not an Irish Blog. However – the argument on That’s Ireland evolved from the basics to sophistry the computer upon which I type is Compaq (hardly Irish) my […]

    Reply

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A blog by Michael Nugent

Welcome to my blog about living in the maddest country on earth. Please feel free to leave a comment.

I also write Bionic Bohs, a blog about following Bohemians football club in the 1970s.

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As mentioned above, if you like Irish football and/or cultural nostalgia, I also write Bionic Bohs, a blog about following Bohs in the 1970s.

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