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Bloggers Bash Their Bosses

With millions of sites floating through the blogosphere, who really has time to peek at even a fraction of them? Blogophile reads them for you and presents a weekly roundup of the buzz on must-read blogs. Blogophile appears new each Wednesday, and is written by's Melissa P. McNamara.

While moviegoers rushed out to catch "The Devil Wears Prada," bloggers took to their keyboards to blast their own bad bosses. Read what they have to say. And, did Ken Lay really die? Some bloggers aren't so sure and have spread conspiracy theories throughout the blogosphere. Plus, who is Rocketboom's new host? Find out below.

And You Think Your Boss Is Bad

Sure, Meryl Streep is a great actress, but in the blogosphere, "The Devil Wears Prada" has become a hit because many bloggers can relate to working for a difficult boss.

"It reminded me of my previous life as a cosmetics slave when I worked for the Lauder corporation from my 24th to my 31st years," Stephen writes at Sandwich Cake. "I had bosses that made the Streep character seem like a girl scout."

The movie has inspired several online contests seeking entries in the "bad boss" area. Public Radio sponsored a contest, seeking stories from people who have been bad bosses as well as from people who've had bad bosses.

The AFL-CIO's blog also sponsored an online "Bad Boss Story" contest, in which the lucky winner gets a free vacation, presumably well-deserved. An Arizona woman wrote in with her plight: "My husband became seriously ill requiring hospitalization and my missing work and my boss made me prove that I was actually married to him," she wrote.

And in California, an employee wrote: "My boss was not bad, he was indefatigably oppressive and manipulative in his actions … He kept making comments that I should take medication for ADD. He'd give me something to do and 5 minutes later he would be calling me and saying what's taking me so long."

Of course, it's not the first time Hollywood has tackled the mean boss. Jenster at No Such Nonsense lists other bad bosses portrayed in Hollywood, such as Katherine Parker in "Working Girl" and Bill Lumbergh in "Office Space." (And I'd add that if you've ever seen "Swimming With Sharks," "The Devil Wears Prada's" Miranda isn't looking so bad.)

Forget Hollywood, the Parisian Princess says, she's had her own fair share of bad bosses. She lists her boss pet peeves on her blog. Among her requests are that bosses not comment on her shoes or clothing: "This sounds crazy but I have actually had a boss comment that my very professional high heels were 'too noisy' and could I please wear flats," she blogs.

So what can you do if you're stuck with a bad boss, some bloggers ask. "Ignore them? Tweak them from time to time? Wait 'til they go too far and find a way to punish them?" BitingBlondeWit questions. And she offers the best cyber-savvy revenge: "Blog them ..."

Ken Lay Is In The Building

The coroner said a heart attack killed Enron founder Kenneth Lay last week. But bloggers weren't nearly as convinced. After all, his death came on the last day of his family vacation in Colorado, without him serving a single day in prison, and it may enable his family to hold on to its assets.

No, Lay's death was just too coincidental, many bloggers said, coming just before he faced sentencing for six counts of fraud and conspiracy and four counts of bank fraud, igniting conspiracy theories. Lay was among Technorati's 10 most popular search terms over the weekend, and it's doubtful bloggers were searching for facts about Enron.

In fact, many didn't think Lay died at all. "Word on the street is that he's actually chillin' in the Dominican Republic, fanning himself with his offshore money he squirreled away and sharing a pitcher of sangria with Tupac," NemesisBecoming blogs.

Dvork Uncensored agrees "this is just too convenient." "The report says his heart 'just gave out.' What does that mean? I think this should be thoroughly investigated," he blogs.

Some sense a conspiracy theory at play. "His pastor, Steve Wende of Houston's First United Methodist Church in Houston, made the first announcement that Ken Lay had died of a heart attack — but Lay was located in Colorado where he was said to have died. Why was the news broke by 'a pastor' friend back in Houston and not a professional ER-unit in Colorado?" givemelibertyorgivemedeath writes at The Daily Kos.

One site even tracks "the movements of the 'late' Kenneth L. Lay, convicted felon and former CEO of Enron Corporation." Ken Lay Is Alive encourages people with Lay sightings to submit them to their site, which already features tips on how to spot Lay in possible disguises, ranging from a blond-haired wig to a new race.

And for those not speculating about his sudden death, some are capitalizing on the theories. Ken Lay Lives proclaims "Ken Lay is Alive. He obviously faked his death to live a life of comfort and freedom," and sells T-shirts for $14.95 each. The site says they've sold over 14,000 units so far.

Rocket (Almost) Un-Boomed

While it may not have been the fodder for tabloids and roundtable discussions with talking heads that network anchors generate, the changing of the guard of an online news program was one of the most buzzed about topics in the blogosphere.

Bloggers were intrigued, outraged and generally confused when Internet star Amanda Congdon, the host of Rocketboom's popular video site, announced she was leaving after sparring with her business partner. Where would Congdon go? What would happen to Rocketboom? What did it mean for other video bloggers?

First some background. Congdon delivers a quirky three-minute news-like segment, which features a mix of pop culture and tech new to 300,000 viewers. The site's popularity even drew the attention of Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., who sat down for an on-camera interview with Congdon. The aspiring actress also landed a cameo on the TV show "CSI."

Andrew Baron, Rocketboom's executive director — and Congdon, after she answered his ad on Craigslist — promised to turn the video blog into a moneymaker. Yet Congdon said she never saw any money. She explained her decision to leave on her personal blog, airing her dirty laundry in a series of e-mails between her and Baron. Congdon owns 49 percent of Rocketboom while Baron's owns 51 percent. She said Baron insisted that she be only the "face" of the show and give up any other control, while Baron says Congdon simply quit amid negotiations. The New York Times called it a "Cyberspace Soap Opera."

Many bloggers were sad to see Congdon leave and were sympathetic to her claims that she wasn't being compensated for drawing viewers to Rocketboom.

"Rocketboom's rise has been nothing short of remarkable," Steve Rubel at Micro Persuasion writes. "Much of this success can be attributed to the partnership between Congdon and Baron. They're like Lennon and McCartney."

"I wouldn't bet against a TV network or studio signing Amanda to a contract. Now is their opportunity," Rubel said.

So what is ahead for Amanda? Congdon told the New York Times she has received "at least" 700 supportive e-mails, many of them including job offers. Some bloggers have offered her positions online. Jason Calacanis, head of Weblogs Inc. even made her an offer. "So, my offer to you is do your daily report for Netscape and we'll pay you whatever you need to get paid AND you can own all of the rights to your video forever (just give us like a six month exclusive window on Netscape)," he blogs.

Stephen Speicher at Endgadget says that Rocketboom's issues raises the question of when it comes to video blogging, who really owns the brand?

"Unlike traditional 'talent' vs. 'management' debates where the talent is held in check by a certain amount of infrastructure, video blogs have very little to keep a well-liked host/writer tied to a brand. Furthermore, the audience for these shows is often bloggers and similarly tied-in viewers," Speicher writes. "This could spell disaster for a company like Rocketboom, but it could also have an adverse effect on companies looking for funding in the field."

Perhaps Rocketboom's next host will be left to answer this question. HuffingtonPost reported that Baron tapped former MTV Europe VJ Joanna Colan to take over the anchor chair.

Blogging Religiously

With younger generations moving away from organized religion, some ministers have stumbled on a new, cyber-savvy approach. A growing number are taking the Gospel to the Internet, blogging their ministry to online twenty and thirty-somethings, the Washington Post reports.

"I used to think that the blog supplemented my weekend message," Mark Batterson, the lead pastor of National Community Church, told the Washington Post. "Now I wonder if it isn't the other way around. It's hard for me to imagine why a church that has younger members wouldn't have a blog component." He told the newspaper that his blog, Evolutional, draws about 25,000 visitors a month. He even recently hired a "digital pastor" whom he met through his blog.

Many of the blogs seem to humanize the pastors in ways that younger, potential churchgoers, might relate. For example, Batterson's blog describes a "stupid mistake" he made that day and he frequently mentions his family. This week, he discussed the excitement of his daughter's swim meet. Centreville Presbyterian Church Associate Pastor Neil Craigan's blog, Broken Bonds Loosed Chains, includes photos of his family's summer vacation as well as occasional song lyrics from U2 or Bruce Springsteen, and even his thoughts on the World Cup.

The idea has caught on so much there's even a book and, of course, a blog about the phenomenon, The Blogging Church.

But there's also the risk of pastors opening themselves up for criticism when they put post on their blogs. "We preach every Sunday, blog every day, cast vision, motivate leaders, write letters and e-mails constantly ... And because we're 'men of the cloth,' every word we say is unreasonably expected to carry the full weight and immaculacy of God himself," Ben Arment, a blogging pastor writes. "But let me just say that it's impossible to communicate this much and not say something stupid occasionally ... or at least something critics can poke holes in."

But, for the most part, blogging pastors are getting praise for using technology to reach new members.

"I'm so pumped about the way God is using blogging to be another vehicle for His Word and that the media is taking note. Very cool," blogs David Russell, who appeared in a photo accompanying the Post's article.

Given the emphasis on values and faith after the 2004 election — never mind blogs — it will be interesting to see what role these pastors' blogs will play.

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By Melissa McNamara

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