Blogosphere: December 2005 Archives

Pajamas Media launched in November amidst much fanfare and a certain amount of confusion, thanks to their last minute name switch to Open Source Media, followed by a quick reversal to Pajamas. As I understand it, the point of Pajamas Media is to get mainstream advertisers to support blogging by offering an attractive package of the most popular and prominent blogs.

That may be useful for advertisers and ultimately successful, but it doesn't seem to have had an immediate impact on content. Over time, the extra income may free up member bloggers to spend more time researching and writing, but most of the members are bloggers who became popular because they're already writing a lot and updating frequently.

I was thinking today about another potential benefit from bloggers banding together, and I didn't see anything on Pajamas Media's website addressing this: Affordable access to online research tools.

There's an amazing amount of information that is hidden away in pay-for-access databases. has archives from 818 news sources across the country, including Tulsa Whirled and Tulsa Tribune content going back to 1989. LexisNexis has content ranging from news and magazine articles to court cases to voter registration records to incorporation documents to land records, information that can provide background for a story and help a writer follow the money and connect the dots.

Professional journalists sometimes have access to these databases through the publications they write for. A freelancer might be able to deduct the cost of a subscription, provided he has enough income to cover the cost in the first place, but even then, if the information he needs is scattered through several different databases, he'll end up paying a fee to each, and may not get enough benefit out of any one source to take advantage of volume discounts.

But bloggers have to make do with the free samples. Archives for the most recent week of a newspaper may be free, but anything before that is $2 an article. A database may provide free access to limited information or relatively weak search capability, but you have to pay a monthly fee to get the full information in a usable format or to be able to use full-featured search tools to find what you're after.

For example: I recently used GuideStar to look up the most recent IRS Form 990 for Planned Parenthood Golden Gate, to find out how much of the organization's income came from government funding. (See my linkblog archive, scroll down to 2005-12-13. Sorry; one of these days, I'll add permalinks.) Money is fungible, and the money they get from the government for less controversial services frees up donor money to pay for cartoons of pro-choice superheros destroying abstinence advocates. Bloggers have used GuideStar recently to find out who funds a think-tank advocating against prescription drugs from Canada , to look into the finances of certain megachurch-related businesses, and to find out how much government money goes to a group that has produced a puppet video to urge teens to lobby the FDA for emergency contraception without a prescription.

For free, you can look at the three most recent Form 990s for an organization, but if you subscribe for $30 or $100 a month, you can get lists of board members and executives and access to all Form 990s on file. Paid access gets you more powerful search tools, as well.

Some research sources are available for free through your local library system, but that means having to schedule research time during their hours, using their computers, and being limited to so many minutes of access per day. (Occasionally, the database owner will allow library patrons to log in from anywhere on the Internet, but that isn't the case with some of the most powerful and useful databases.) It's good enough for casual use, but not sufficient for intensive research.

Most of the database sites I've visited mention that they can arrange special rates for libraries, corporations, and news organizations which need access for multiple users in the same organization. So here's my idea, and perhaps it can be done through the Media Bloggers Association: Negotiate group rates for unlimited or at least less expensive access to these databases for member bloggers. Access could be offered as part of an enhanced package of membership benefits. A blogger would pay one annual fee to the bloggers' association, and it would entitle him to access to a dozen key databases. The association would accumulate membership fees and pay group fees to the database services.

Does this seem worth pursuing? I think it would add depth to blog entries and would encourage more investigative blogging. How much would you be willing to pay to have this kind of information at your disposal? Let me know what you think, especially if you're a fellow blogger, by posting a comment or emailing me at blog AT batesline DOT com.

(That stammered "order" was an attempt at a Betty Boothroyd impression, for you incurable C-SPAN Question Time fans.)

Basil of basil's blog has been conducting interviews of bloggers this fall, collecting questions from readers, then allowing the subject blogger to respond, unedited, and presenting the results in an entertaining format. Here's my interview. I notice that sometime early next year Sean Gleeson and Don Singleton will be on the hotseat.

Coming up very shortly will be an interview with Hooah Wife Greta Perry, who is based here in the Tulsa area. If you've read her blog, you know she isn't shy about speaking her mind, so the interview should be a fun read. Click here to submit questions for her interview; the deadline is December 31.

Now Greta is turning the tables on Basil. She's collecting questions for an interview of him, and the deadline for those questions is also December 31. So here's your chance to learn about the enigma who uses a cute chubby-cheeked toddler photo as his avatar.

Mister Snitch! wants your help in identifying the best 100 blog entries of 2005:

Even if most web awards weren't an exercise in driving traffic (compare traffic numbers with Wizbang's list of award winners, and you'll understand), they still don't direct us to the best posts of the year. Great posts happen independently of traffic stats. In fact, some bloggers are likely to create great (and unknown) posts precisely because they spend less time doing self-promotion and more time writing. Those are the posts we want to acknowledge.

To get you thinking, he lists ten types of posts that fit what he's looking for, including "milk-out-your-nose funny," "a great comment thread," "something you'd stick in a time capsule."

I'm going to go back through my archives and take another look at the things I found link-worthy in the course of 2005 for a half-dozen or so that rise above the rest, maybe one of each type. (I have a feeling one of the Bayly Brothers' reports and reflections from Terri Schiavo's hospice will be among them.)

To make it easy for you to participate, I'll be adding a link in the sidebar on my homepage. Click through and follow the instructions to participate.

Keep praying...


The latest reports from Mike Mansur regarding his son, who was born prematurely and with a congenital heart defect, are encouraging.

I don't know how often Mike will be able to check his blog, but you might leave an encouraging comment, just in case.

Welcome back to...


...Will of Caffeinated Musings, who is learning to be less caffeinated and more active.

...Missy of Marsupial Mom, who has posted her first entry ("a hodge-podge") since giving birth to her new baby boy back in August. Her latest post links to a Reformation Day entry by Jollyblogger, in an attempt to explain "why coming into the Reformed faith has been such a life-changing experience." She writes:

I was in despair when I was trying to figure out what I could do to get closer to God. I have spent the last two years being reminded of what God has done for me. Huge difference.

(There are also some smile- and tear-inducing entries on her and her husband's family blog, Little House, including a lovely remembrance of his recently departed aunt.)

Weblog Awards 2005

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Speaking of the Weblog Awards, I should mention that a number of BatesLine's blogpals (defined as blogs that link here) are finalists this year:

Best New Blog (Established after November 19, 2004): basil's blog
Best Liberal Blog: Clarified
Best of the Top 1001 - 1750 Blogs: The Gleeson Bloglomerate
Best of the Top 1001 - 1750 Blogs: Dustbury
Best of the Top 1751 - 2500 Blogs: Sean Gleeson
Best of the Top 2501 - 3500 Blogs: Different River
Best of the Top 6751 - 8750 Blogs: Save the GOP
Best of the Rest: Hooah Kid

Congratulations on being nominated!

Remember, you can vote once a day in each category, every day through the 15th.

Please pray....


About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Blogosphere category from December 2005.

Blogosphere: November 2005 is the previous archive.

Blogosphere: January 2006 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



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