M&G blogger clinches top blog award

Mail & Guardian Online‘s Thought Leader blogger Azad Essa clinched the best political blog award at the South African Blog Awards ceremony in Cape Town on Friday.

The awards, in its fifth year, honours the best bloggers in the country.

Voting is open to the public, measuring the zeitgeist of the South African web users when it comes to the relatively new medium of blogs.

“It is obviously very surprising to have won ‘best political blog’ considering especially how serious some of the other blogs are. But it is cool that people have come over to the fun side, where humour, wild anecdotes and a little booze live side by side with political issues,” says Essa.

Essa, a freelance journalist and lecturer, works at the Industrial Organisational and Labour Studies Research Unit at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. In his blog Accidental Academic, he writes on various topics including politics, poverty and social inequality.

“Blogging is a strange concept. I am not into the diary sort of blog where you read about toothpaste, toilet paper and bitch slaps by some blogger in some other part of the world — unless, of course, it was Zuma, the Dalai Lama or a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay describing such things. I approach my blog like the newspaper column I have always wanted. While the issues and themes chosen are close to me, I experiment with the writing style; play with the words to try and make ordinary issues perhaps a little more interesting to read about.”

“I am very glad to be part of such a platform at Thought Leader, and I am especially grateful to M&G‘s Shaun de Waal for suggesting I join Thought Leader and former M&G Online editor Riaan Wolmarans for opening up a blog for me. I have been able to test my ideas in an esteemed space, often receiving some damning comments from readers which have only assisted in improving my writing. The remarkable thing is that the blog is less than a year old and to have received such a good response after spending years begging papers to publish articles has been humbling. It also gives me hope for a brighter future for young writers in the big bad world of media,” he says.

“We are particularly proud of Essa’s achievement,” says Aliki Karasaridis, Thought Leader editor. “His consistently high quality and hard-hitting opinions have clearly resonated with the public. We are proud to have him as a Thought Leader.”

Thought Leader, South Africa’s premier discussion platform with 100 000 visitors a month (source: Google Analytics), was nominated in two categories and grabbed third place for best group blog and fifth place for most controversial blog.

Mail & Guardian Online is committed to social media and to making the South African internet a vibrant and active community,” says Carlos Henriques, the general manager of M&G Online. “Thought Leader has established itself in the market as the most respected blogging platform in South Africa, and we will continue to innovate to make it the best political opinion resource, across all mediums.”

Visit Thought Leader at http://www.thoughtleader.co.za and see Essa’s Accidental Academic blog at http://www.thoughtleader.co.za/azadessa. The SA Blog Awards results are available at http://www.sablogawards.com/2009/.

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