Digital Democracy

A blog for the course New Media and a Democratic Society

Convergence Case Study: Health and Fitness Blogs

Posted by clocke22 on September 12, 2010

My case study focuses on health and fitness blogs.  I started reading Meals and Miles (then named Inner Workings of a College Graduate) several months ago after a Google search turned up a blog entry.  The blog is about a woman in her 20s and her health and fitness goals and routines.  She lives in Orlando and apparently works in marketing.  It is helpful not only for tips on recipes and workouts but also a nice snapshot of someone’s life, and this case she seems like a really nice, down to earth person.  As a communications scholar, her blog is really intriguing to me because it seems like companies send her free products/samples on a regular basis and within the community of bloggers, they often meet each other when they travel and form “real-life” friendships.  This is a good example of the convergence of media because it involves the corporate sphere (WordPress to host the blog, in addition to corporate entities who seek her out as a blogger to provide samples, which she often gives away in exchange for comments), the user (in this case, Meghann the blogger who decided to make blog one day and voila, it is successful; also readers who interact are also users), and the creative industries (the blog just went through a total re-design and re-name, thanks to a graphic designer).  Deuze might call the interaction between the bloggers and community they form an “informal editorial collective.”  Like many other people who read her blog or who read similar blogs, Meghann’s blog is a part of my weekly or sometimes daily media consumption and therefore probably supplants some sort of mainstream media source that I might otherwise read (probably a magazine in my case).  Thus, it is a good example of how user-generated content changes the dynamics of media consumption.  My ability to comment and interact with Meghann, though I don’t actually do this, adds another facet to the picture.  My comments can then be read by others so I can be both a media consumer and creator.  Forbes rounded up a list of health and fitness blogs and provides a short blurb about their use here.  Zen Habits, another blog I like, posted his own post of his favorite fitness blogs.  I think these blogs also literally embody Deuze’s description of ads not taking the “I’m the doctor” format anymore; now, you can learn from real people and gather a variety of viewpoints but pick what works best for you.

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7 Responses to “Convergence Case Study: Health and Fitness Blogs”

  1. clocke22 said

    http://chentingchen.wordpress.com/2010/09/12/convergence-the-best-job-in-the-world/#comment-15
    http://caseyawilson.wordpress.com/2010/09/10/convergence-culture-dan-3-0/#comment-19
    http://tinamoore2222.wordpress.com/2010/09/11/convergence-culture-tv-on-your-terms/#comment-21

  2. I have a lot of blogger friends. Some do it recreationally; some do it for their primary income. All of them are bombarded with freebies, just like Meghann. Because reserach has shown that people are more receptive to the word-of-mouth type reviews bloggers do than the commercially produced advertisements, bloggers are often pursuded to review a product online in exchange for the freebies.
    The FTC has told bloggers you need to notify your readers when you are reviewing a product you got for free. http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9138949/FTC_tells_bloggers_to_disclose_payments_freebies_for_reviews
    But, the agency also said there’s virtually no way to regulate this practice. Do you think this convergence of everyday people into media content producers and the explosion of ways to put a message out there is going to deminish the government’s ability to protect the consumer?

    • clocke22 said

      I think there is an argument to be made for diminished consumer protections but those protections are in my opinion more from big corporations who are going to take out ads on TV and magazines and bombard people with false or misleading messages. I have seen some bloggers who have stopped reviewing free stuff because of the new rule, which puts more power in the hands of the big companies. It think time will tell how this plays out, but I think it is a great observation and I am interested to see when some caselaw comes out about it:)

  3. I think that this is a great case because, as you say, she has her experience to work with but perhaps not any “traditional” qualifications to speak/instruct about health and fitness. And yet her readers really connect to her, and in that way trust her. She’s not the “Doctor”, she’s…a friend, or perhaps a mentor.

    All of which makes it even more likely to be a site of the convergence that Deuze is looking for. She both the amateur (blogger) and the professional (promoter of the products she’s been sent) and her readers interact with her in both capacities. Interesting, interesting.

  4. Sijia said

    I agree with you that health and fitness blogs are now very interactive online platforms. I say so because there are so many times when I searched for a food recipe I ended up in a fitness blog or forum. I found that the members of such blogs or forums are very communicative with each other. They love to share personal experiences, fitness goals, their diet diaries and many food recipes with each other. I guess they feel more determinate in dieting or exercising when there are other people paying attention.

  5. morganyang said

    Hey, this makes me think of the movie “JULIE & JULIA”, although the movie is not about healthy food :). I think “blog” has bring us lots of interesting things in the present. Everyone likes the delicious food, there are some people who are called “online food critics”. In my home country, Taiwan, these people usually be invited to a new opened restaurant or to the old restarurant with new menu. They had free meal and will publish the review on thier own blog. I have remembered that you have discussed this in the class. It’s seems that the US government is going to put some regulations on this. Although, there exists an authenticity problem, these online food critics have already established their audience group.

  6. This is a very good point: “Like many other people who read her blog or who read similar blogs, Meghann’s blog is a part of my weekly or sometimes daily media consumption and therefore probably supplants some sort of mainstream media source that I might otherwise read (probably a magazine in my case).”

    There are a number of bloggers who have made their blogs so successful, the blog is now their full-time job. I would caution you, though, that this doesn’t just magically happen. Some information about HOW it happens is here:

    http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/articles/

    This has the foundation of a good post, but you did not carry through. It seems you couldn’t decide whether to write about health and fitness blogs in the broad sense, as some kind of genre that illustrates convergence in its own way (apart from other blogs), or to writ about just the one blog you started with.

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