What are the world's best weblogs? Here's a link to the list of winners of The BOBs - Best of the Blogs contest.
Apparently, we on the Jury Award committee have a lot in common with users who elected the popular User Prizes -- as you'll see, more than once the same blogger wins both categories. Even where two different blogs win, I see similar values at work--when you click through, see if you agree that I may lump these 26 winners into these three categories:
- Alternative news - These blogs deliver exceptional current events coverage by bloggers who regularly break news and provide an important perspective on traditional media coverage -- or, in the case of some governments, provide news instead of official propaganda. See Best Weblog Overall - User Prize, Special Reporters Without Borders Jury Award and User Prize, and, of the Best Journalistic Blogs, the English Jury Award, French Jury Award, German User Prize and Chinese User Prize.
- Conscience-as-commentary - These bloggers are columnists whose blogs (some of which are fiction) reflect their personal insights into the human condition, via relationships and world events. See Best Weblog Overall - Jury Award, Best Multimedia Blog, Best Journalistic Blogs - French User Prize and German Jury Award.
- Both! See Best Podcasting Site, and the Best Journalistic Blogs Chinese Jury Award, English User Prize, and both the Jury Awards and User Prizes in Arabic, Persian, Russian and Spanish.
"The Global Voices Online uber-blog has delivered what no other media organization with an international mission would -- or perhaps could: Direct distribution of diverse, authentic, original commentary, news, information, insight and culture from every wired corner of the world to a hungry and neglected global audience. By organizing, recommending, broadcasting and linking hundreds of bloggers by nation, Global Voices opens the door to a broad spectrum of voices, which the user may discover by country or by topic."
In my opinion, Global Voices is the most important blog in the English speaking world, bar none. This site is more than an up-to-the-minute guide and encyclopedia of the international blogosphere. Global Voices Online is a mega-blog the covers free speech by a global citizenry--and covers it well. It's so important at a time when so many international voices are denied free speech by their governments and, in the United States, a very few, English-speaking, first-world media conglomerates dominate and determine the ownership, distribution and content of news. Kudos to founders Rebecca MacKinnon and Ethan Zuckerman, and all the writers on the site.
Unfortunately, I was unable to effectively argue to award Global Voices Best Weblog Overall because two jury members for this year's BOBs contest have written for the site -- Hossein Derakhshan and Julien Pain. This conflict of interest (or appearance thereof, depending upon which judge you ask) was enough to disqualify the site from the overall category.
That said, I am indebted to Ignacio Escolar Garcia and José Luis Orihuela Colliva for introducing the rest of us to "Mas respecto, que soy tu madre," Hernán Casciari's enormously popular Spanish language "blogonovela" or illustrated fictional blog. This blogstory about daily family life in rapidly-changing Argentina is told from the perspective of a fictional 52-year-old matriarch-with-an-attitude, Mirta Bertotti. I love it. (Further proof of the power of mommy blogging - for more see here.)
I also am thrilled to see that another blog I nominated (and doubtless others did too), Body and Soul, won the User Prize for Best Journalistic Weblog in the English category. Of the solo voices out there, just about nobody raises the alarm about how humans treat each other with the same consistency and well-honed words as blogger Jeanne d'Arc.
Joining this jury was a self-conscious experience. Who are we to judge the world's best blogs, I wondered? Now I'm glad I did it -- although I'm equally sure we missed many gems. While I was very concerned that I was the only woman on the jury, I was thrilled by the diversity of the suggestions made by the other jurors. In tallying up the results, I see that as many as 13 of the winning blogs are written or co-written by women and 13 are written by men. (For the record, we never discussed blogger gender in the jury room as a criterion...it was all about quality, quality, quality.)
Deutsche Welle has done a terrific job with the BOBs contest to date. I think the online team's next step is to grow the contest and invite jury members from Africa and Southeast Asia. In addition to considering some of this year's winners, I recommend Sokari Ekine and Dina Mehta as a great place to begin.