Ireland blog awards – celebrating the best of Irish writing?

Awards. I can take them or leave them. Except when it comes to Ryan Gosling being over-looked for a gong for Blue Valentine, which I will always contend was a gross miscarriage of justice.

So, blogging awards shouldn’t really give me jip, especially when I harbour fairly low expectations of my own, which have predictably been borne out by a dwindling readership. I’m reasonably comfortable with being an acquired taste. I can take me or leave me much of the time, too.

But when it comes to organisers of blog awards casually taking or leaving large swathes of bloggers while hogging lofty straplines, it tends to get on my tits.

A quick peer through the history of the Irish Blog Awards shows an evolution of a peer-led rough ‘n’ ready collective cheer-lead into the slick PR company extravaganza it is today. It should be within the fabric of any modern movement to periodically re-invent itself. The corresponding lament for resulting casualties is inevitable, as are the rapid chalk-ups of same to behavior of the strictly churlish and curmudgeonly. The net is buoyed up on simple binary formulae.

Which makes it difficult to call out the insidious dominance of the ‘lifestyle’ ‘category’ as the enemy of good writing. For the second year running, the ‘personal’ category has been jettisoned in favour of this apparently convenient catch-all. Only the catch-all relies heavily on catching as many products as possible: dining, fashion, make-up, cooking. Preferably with photos. The quality of writing appears to be an afterthought, if considered at all. Less in sync with the values of writing than those of glossy publishing and ‘industry experts’. Commonly caught up in their dedication to Selling to The Consumer.

If this reads as an attack on lifestyle blogging, I apologise. It’s not meant as one. Or a suggestion that lifestyle blogging is incompatible with good writing. But rather an unapologetic two-fingers up to the casual and unquestioned flicking aside of bloggers that fail to fit the category however broad the catch-all appears. And the unsubtle expansion of personal blogging into personal PR, an extension of the catalogue industry. Where the anonymous are the creeping social media pariah, the writing scope of females stereotyped to a laughable degree, and blokes don’t stand a chance.

Squeezed from consideration are those who shy away from documenting their forays into personal tastes and tidbits; who care less for current trends and aesthetics than treading thoughts on all manner of topics too thinly spread to qualify them comfortably in other categories. Of the half dozen blogs that spring to mind, none would be eligible for the category criteria. Yet they contain some of the best of Irish writing I have the good fortune to click on. Substance over style. In my opinionated opinion. Perhaps it’s a problem of taste. Or more likely – the taste-makers.

Ireland Blog Awards – ignoring some of the best of Irish Writing.

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26 thoughts on “Ireland blog awards – celebrating the best of Irish writing?

  1. Yes! Fine, fine, sour grapes over here, but you’re so right. With my most cynical hat on, the Blog Awards are an exercise in data mining for PR companies who want bloggers to work with, and personal blogs, heavy on the written word and the (sometimes) deep thoughts and the lack of product placement, are not what they need.

  2. Excellent, agree! My blog doesn’t really fit into any category – and it’s certainly not lifestyle – really, only Personal. But there’s no personal anymore, the category seems obsolete. It’s odd, cos Personal blogs are the blogs from which all other blogs sprang!

    • That’s so true, I didn’t think of it like that before but you’re bang on. And as a veteran blogger I’m sure it’s an odd evolution to witness. I hereby award you with the rosette for my inaugural ‘Good point, well made’ award. Please make your way to the press room. Thanks.

  3. Couldn’t agree more. Very few original, interesting voices make the short list each year. It’s a popularity contest that’s easy to rig if you have the time to spend money or many hours building a wobbly network. I made it on the long list of ‘Best Newcomer’ on the Irish Blog Awards in 2014 by receiving one nomination from a friend. I’d like to know by what criteria blogs are judged now – someone who has over 1000 followers? More than 500 facebook page likes? Couldn’t be arsed with jumping through their hoops.

    • Yup. Though I didn’t realise the significance of Facebook followers etc.. I quite like the idea of you getting on the list on the back of one nomination, it’s in the spirit of everyone having a crack at picking up some readers and the inclusive-seeming vibe of yore (maybe I’m over romanticising the past – it’s in the genes). The popularity tools are impossible to eliminate. Like a lot of winners in various awards – hard work and persistence is frequently awarded over talent; and in a way determination is to be credited but blithely casting aside freewheeling bloggers seems mean-spirited – precisely the opposite of what the awards evolved from. They created a monster. Probably a well-turned out, impeccably dressed monster. Still, a monster nonetheless.

  4. It must be the same here with Blog awards, but needless to say, not on my radar. I reckon part of the charm of you and me is our uncatgegorisablity. Actually, there is a clue about that in our titles 🙂

    Is there a term for the irony that this post is one of your most popular???! *runs away very fast to dodge the stiletto shoe flying through the air*

    • Ah c’mon, birdie. As if. You know me better than that. It’s a scuffed boot you should be ducking. You’re right about the irony of this post, only I was thinking.. do these good people realise they’re interrupting a conversation between us? You were so polite to wait till they’d finished.

  5. Yeah, it’s gone a bit mad over in Blog HQ, I think. It’s very hard for me to comment when I’ve done fairly well out of it so far, but I saw a big change last year when a PR company took it over and brought in parallel corporate blog categories (I wonder why €€€€€€€). Many valid corporate categories just don’t translate into personal blog categories, e.g. Marketing & Comms or the bizarre new category “B2B”. This makes a mockery of some awards, when there’s a finalist list of the only 3 blogs they could find with a combined readership for all finalists of approximately 23 people, 21 of whom are related to the winning blogger. Overall, the awards have changed utterly in the last 2 years and now seem to favour content-lite blogging with an emphasis on SEO and numbers of FB/Instagram followers.

    • Without the awards, I wouldn’t have heard of half the ones I love, including your own. There was a very different vibe back then by all accounts; more grassroosty with folk getting some exposure. But that’s it – the corporate hallmark running through the motivational basis of it rather than a knees-up and thumbs up on a peer basis. When they dropped the humour award, I feared the worse. I can’t say what my fears were because I’m a crank but a wimp. A cranky wimp, or a wimpy crank, I can’t decide. Anyway, all this whinging aside, I shall be lobbing my nomination yer way for the books and literature section (which I think is new?). Shame there’s no music category though. OK, OK, I’m gonna let it go. For now.

      • If I’m going to be truly cynical (which you know I am) I’d say any awards which weren’t obvious contenders for sponsorship were dropped straight away. Nobody sponsored either of the awards for Humour or Newcomer in 2014, and they both mysteriously disappeared in 2015 in favour of more corporate-friendly categories. The Newcomer award is the sorriest loss because it’s such a great springboard for fledgling bloggers – to which I can attest. I’m massively relieved that my first experience of the awards was under the old system. Having said that I was pleased to see the new Books and Literature category this year. Not because I fit in to it (thank you by the way) but because some absolutely superb book bloggers I know didn’t even make the shortlist last year, and in comparison to some of the ones that did, it was kind of insane.

      • Now it all makes better sense – the sponsorship. I’m a mixed ability person, but catch on eventually. Yer spot on – those categories were great for tapping into new reads. A lot of the humour in general seems to have left along with the humour specific award. The earnestness of most of the contenders in the other few categories I might hover over obviously more compatible with The Brand.

  6. I can’t take the awards seriously, not since they went with the voting nonsense. I’ve bowed out of taking part for a number of reasons, one of which is I just want to write and read others and have no need to be any more validated blogging wise, than I already have been.
    Of course not bothering to include a personal blog category, which is one of the only blogs where there is real writing involved is another reason to wonder what are they awarding.
    Good rant. I enjoyed it. I hope all those who commented stick with you. Yours in one of my must find and read what I’ve missed blogs.

    • Yer a whole good’un, tric. Thanks. The voting system seems unnecessarily convoluted. Doesn’t it go on for, like, three years? Anyway, you’re right. And as I always affirm to myself as I take to the keyboard – blessed are the ranters for they have already inherited eternity. 🙂

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