Times to Expose “Bloggers With Fingers”

The paper invents a non-trend: business travelers who don't blog!

We’re guessing it went something like this:

New York Times reporter pitching story to editor: Everyone has a blog. In the past few months alone, we’ve reported that: teens blog; subjects of newspaper articles blog; authors blog; union members blog; young Iraqis blog; federal prosecutors blog.

So readers must be wondering, why are there no blogs by “business travelers?” And although I haven’t found any bloggers who identify themselves precisely as such, I will answer the question by identifying fears shared by every blogger with a day job, and then proceed to construe those anxieties as belonging specifically to “business travelers.” I’ve also got “blogging specialists” lined up to talk smartly about what will certainly happen when more “business travelers” do start blogging. (Here’s a hint: The travel industry will be forced to pay attention!)

Editor: You had me at “blog.” You’ve got 1200 words!

The result? A pointless piece in the business section of yesterday’s New York Times, headlined,”On Business, and Blogging on the Road,” in which reporter Christopher Elliott wonders “why business travelers haven’t embraced blogging?”

Why, indeed? Well, it could be — to paraphrase one of Elliott’s astute sources — that “business travelers” are too busy traveling for business to blog about traveling for business. While we’re exploring the obvious, couldn’t it also be that some “business travelers” are out there in the blogosphere blogging about topics other than traveling for business? (In other words, maybe it’s not that “business travelers haven’t embraced blogging” but that “business travelers haven’t embraced blogging about business travel?” Is that what Elliott is trying to say? If so, isn’t it also possible that some bloggers are, on occasion, blogging about business travel, but not calling themselves “business traveler bloggers?”

These are possibilities that Elliott seems not to have considered before sharing his ground-breaking discovery that relatively few “business travelers” are currently blogging. He writes: “an Internet search for full-time business travelers who write Web logs produces astonishingly low numbers, considering the eight million Americans whom the Pew Internet and American Life Project say publish a blog.” This would be interesting but for the fact that if one were to interview every single human being on the face of the earth, one would be unlikely to uncover many individuals who would identify themselves principally as “a full-time business travelers” — as in, “Hello, I am a full-time business traveler,” rather than, “Hello, I am Herbert,” or “Hi, I’m an accountant.”

Something else that might keep “business travelers” from blogging, Elliott reports, is the fear that bosses or competitors might discover the blog, read it, and then act on the information therein (presumably to fire them or somehow outmaneuver them). While this doesn’t strike us as a fear that would be specific to “business travelers,” one can certainly see how this fear might be especially acute in someone whose name repeatedly appears on the pages of the New York Times, as in the case of one woman whose dual status as a “business traveler” and blogger earned her prominent mention not only in Elliott’s piece, but also in an earlier Times article about how she, a “business traveler,” kept blogging after her city was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

Of course, no dubious “trend” piece is complete without bold and colorful prognostications from the pros. So Elliott informs readers that “experts on personal Web journals predict that more business travelers are likely to hop on the blogging bandwagon” because “business travelers” are “like modern-day Marco Polos, eager to recount their latest adventures and reveal their latest discoveries” and because “business travel is a ‘bloggable’ subject.” (Is there really a subject that isn’t “bloggable”?) Moreover, Elliott reports that “blogging specialists say that it is not a matter of if, but when, these business travel bloggers will start using their clout in a concerted way to change the travel industry.”

Should a business travel blogger-led revolution eventually come to pass, that might actually be newsworthy.

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.