I have noticed an odd discrepancy in how the traditional media deals with websites/blogs where the primary author is better known by a pseudonymous identity than by their real name.
If a person is a singer or actor, they will have a stage-name for their performances and the media will always use that to identify them. It’s not particularly difficult to find out a celebrity’s real name, but you wouldn’t expect a news story to include a line such as “Reginald Dwight, who uses the stage name of Elton John”.
Oddly though, when it comes to blogs, that is how they are often described by other media. There seems to be a fascination with insisting on real names for bloggers, which is not replicated with other forms of entertainment.
Bloggers talking to bloggers tend to use their self-selected pseudonymous identity without thinking about it. Most people replying to Archbishop Cranmer refer to him as Your Grace, even though I doubt anyone expects the author to be the actual Archbishop Cranmer (unless Torchwood is a documentary?). Likewise for Brian Pigeon, Diamond Geezer, Annie Mole, etc.
Although my real name is no secret, I am far more often referred to as IanVisits as if that is my name. Wasn’t deliberate, just ended up that way. However, the traditional media will often try to insist on real names (BBC News being a rare exception).
This is not a mere idle curiosity that I have noticed over time – it has a real impact on the blogs themselves. A blog that has built up a brandname will normally be easy to find if you search online for that brandname, but difficult to find if you search for the human name of the writer.
It is associated with the wider debate about how newspapers in particular link out to other websites — or more often don’t — and how that impacts on the general principle of linking on the internet.
Despite being told by the journalist that they would credit the photos used to IanVisits, the credit was frankly so tiny and detached from the photos as to look more like a printing error than an actual photo credit. In addition, both newspapers used our real names, instead of our blogging identities, and neither mentioned the names of our blogs at all.
I was – at the time – happy for the paper to use the photos as it would be a quid pro quo in that they get the photos and our blogs get some publicity. Sadly, though, the way both articles were written, you would struggle to know which blogs the two adventurers write for.
Due to the confusion in how print media use celebrity stage names, but bloggers real names – both articles ended up suggesting that I cycled around Paris with Welsh singer, Tom Jones. The links within one article even pointing to other news stories about the singer, not the TiredofLondon blog written by the real Tom Jones.
The irony being that the welsh singer’s real name is not Tom Jones – which really highlights the problem with mixing up real and brand names in a news story.