Don’t Call Us a Blog, Call Us a New-World Magazine

I used to be adamant.

“We’re not a blog,” I would proclaim, upset that people failed to recognize us as an online magazine.

To me, blogging still represented something amateur. It was less than journalistic and lacked objectivity. The term “blog” was below what we did at aboveGround. I was sure of that.

In fact, “Don’t call us a blog,” almost became part of our mantra. An act of defiance in writing.

But, since then I’ve begun to wonder — what separates a blog from a magazine? What makes one better or worse?

It used to be that blogs were just something done by one person to share with their friends (think Xanga), but in this day and age a blog can represent anything from an online collection of haikus to a full-fledged Internet company that brings in millions of daily page views. The line isn’t so much blurred as it is indistinguishable.

And, in reality, sometimes blogs are actually better than any print magazine’s website could ever hope to be. A tight-knit collection of like-minded people sharing ideas and media via a single website — isn’t that what the “social web” is supposed to be? Why is it that established magazines have little to no discussion taking place on their sites, yet simple free-download blogs can generate hundreds of comments on each of their posts?

Maybe being a blog isn’t such a bad rap after all.

Again, in the old days of blogs, they rarely supplied new content, but really just served as echo chambers for what was being produced by larger media outlets. But, that too has changed. Blogs regularly conduct interviews, partake in journalistic ventures and serve as the breeding ground for new music.

What happened?

I can’t point to anything in particular that marked the emergence of the blog as something significant and washed away many of the negative stereotypes associated with being dubbed “just a blogger.” I can, though, say that there are elements of blogs and magazines that make them relevant and exciting to me — things that we want to strive for as we continue to build on our successes.

Some of these things include:

Bold, original and insightful commentary. We’ve never wanted to regurgitate what already exists. Our number one goal remains providing our readers with useful and thought-provoking content.

Big, beautiful photography. Something that we’ve been successful with at times, but will look to do more regularly. It’s undoubtedly the beautiful nature of print magazines that’s always driven my personal interest in consuming the content. And, part of that has always been driven by large-scale photography that captures people and events in a way that words and stock photos cannot.

A strong editorial voice. Even if it’s done by accident, those who have the ability to write with a strong voice and conviction are utterly captivating. We’ve always put a lot of time and effort into our writing to provide stories that come alive for the reader.

Community-driven content. This has been brought about mostly due to the inception and popularity of blogs. Sites that are driven by the communities that surround them are inherently more interesting, diverse and relevant to those involved. We hope to continue integrating social media and talking directly with our readers to bring fresh content that’s curated by hip hop lovers as a whole.

So, if we strive for these four principals, what are we? A blog? Or, a magazine?

Well, hopefully we’re able to transcend the stale, overly-authoritative connotations of the magazine and egocentricity and uselessness that’s sometimes associated with blogs.

Instead, maybe we can don our own title. Something that melds together to social nature of a blog with the powerful, relevant and beautiful content of a magazine. A new-world magazine, of sorts.

Yeah, let’s go with that. A new-world magazine.

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