A blogger with an attitude
MURMANSK: Blogger51 is the name of one of the most influential blogs in Murmansk. Everybody reads it, but very few people know who is behind it. BarentsObserver has met with the young web designer behind this news blog in his new hometown of Murmansk.
As opposed to what most readers think, Blogger51 has for the three last years been updated not from Murmansk, but from St. Petersburg. Now the blogger has decided to return to his native grounds. “A large, creative community has gradually emerged in Murmansk. Here are many reflective young people, both within places like the youth house Mr. Pink and in different Internet communities”, he explains.
Blogger51 is independent and has no owners. It started out as a regular blog on the popular Russian blog site Live Journal, but has gradually turned into a news blog with much contribution from the readers themselves.
50-60 percent of all information that he puts out on his blog, he gets from tip-offs from his readers through a so-called “rumor receiver”. People send in news, pictures, videos and just plain rumors from their hometowns on the Kola Peninsula. All messengers are guaranteed anonymity, something the blogger believes is the reason for him getting so much information.
“I always try to check the rumors with at least two other sources, whenever this is possible”, he says, adding that he has a few, regular contributors he trusts 100 percent.
The young web designer prefers to remain anonymous. “It’s easier for me that way. It’s easier to pick up news stories when no one knows my face”.
Local and regional news are most interesting to Blogger51. “Some 70 percent of my readers come from the Murmansk region, the rest form St. Petersburg, Moscow and Scandinavia”, he says. His favorite topics are exposure of bureaucratic stupidity and abuse of authority by public servants and officials, but he also writes about political life in the region, public spending, business investments and stories from day-to-day life in the Murmansk region.
When asked if there are some subjects he never writes about, the blogger says “Yes. I never write about the police, prosecution authorities or anything that can threaten my own safety”.
The comments field is also an important part of Blogger51. Most of the news stories get a lot of comments, and often good discussions develop here, he says. “I normally let people discuss whatever they want”. “I only delete any comments of extremist character”. In one case he decided to delete comments in order not to create panic in the region. That was when the nuclear-powered submarine “Yekaterinburg” was on fire in December last year. “People started posting things like “It’s all going to blow up” and “Let’s get out of here”, he explains.
The blogger has been offered money to give away information about people who have commented on his web site, but commenters can stay anonymous if they want, and most of them prefer to keep it that way.
Blogger51 is often quoted in regional media in the Murmansk region, men has also been used as a source in Norwegian and other foreign media. When he posted unique pictures and videos on the fire aboard “Yekaterinburg” he was contacted by many of the largest newspapers in Norway, and a video about buying of votes for United Russia in the parliamentary elections was even posted by the New York Times.