Should bloggers and newspapers make peace?

    by Mark Glaser
    October 15, 2007

    Everywhere you turn, newspaper websites are getting the blog religion. They’re either adding new blogs from reporters or community members, or setting up an alliance to share advertising, or just buying up big-name bloggers, as the New York Times has done with Freakonomics and by hiring TVNewser’s Brian Stelter. Alana Semuels counts all the ways newspapers and bloggers are working together in a recent LA Times article. “Newspaper websites, desperate for readers and revenue, are increasingly in cahoots with bloggers, posting and plugging them and even sharing advertising revenue,” she wrote. So what gives? Are newspapers getting too blog-happy and perhaps lowering editorial standards? Are bloggers sleeping with the enemy and selling out? Or is this just the inevitable evolution of both sides as they find their place in the online media ecosystem? Share your thoughts in the comments below and I’ll run the more interesting ones in a future Your Take Roundup.

    Tagged: newspapers weblog
    • we had an opinion piece about this in the ABC Australia recently: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/09/27/2045115.htm

    • Newspapers have no choice but to get more involved with the blogosphere. In every community I’ve ever looked at closely, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of blogs giving voice to ground level views on everything from local politics and public policy to local gardening and parenting issues. Reflecting and recognizing this new aspect of community life is simply good journalism.

      Here are a few ways local media are going about it: In Seattle, Nashville and soon San Francisco, local TV stations have bloggers who write about what is going on in the local blogging community while the sites also host basic RSS aggregators of the latest posts from the local blogosphere. The Newark Star Ledger has a blogger who covers the doings of the blogosphere both locally and across the state.

      Last month my company, blognetnews.com, launched a site with the Knoxville News Sentinel (blognetwork.knoxnews.com) that uses data embedded in the local RSS feeds to give a snapshot of activity in the local blogosphere while also making local blogs searchable and giving local bloggers tools to promote each other.

      We have a network of similar sites in the works and we’re still looking for partners in many of the top 200 metros.

      In a few years, the model pioneered by Nashville is Talking (one of those TV sites) and now in use at a handful of local media outlets, will be part of every newspaper, TV station or specialty publication that intends to accurate reflect what is happening in the community it serves.

    • As with any conversation on new media, it’s hard to know which end of the stick to pick up first.

      But I’ll start out by saying newspaper involvement with blogs — whether that means “buying” or sharing revenue with independent bloggers, or having their own reporters blog — should be firmly guided with an eye on the financial pay-off. Newspapers’ main job right now is to figure out how to stay in business and make money. Reporters do a great job writing regular articles, and they could probably do a great job blogging (with a longer editorial leash and a little training), but that’s not the point: the point is, how can blogging help a newspaper stay afloat and earn revenue? Driving traffic to the site only matters if, in the long term, online advertising is going to keep the ship sailing.

      Second point: Have we yet reached the moment when the word “blog” becomes impossibly general? Take the idea that “blogging lowers editorial standards,” as mentioned in the original post. That assumes that blogging = unedited opinion. I think the MediaShift “blog,” if it can be properly called that, demonstrates that blog technology can be used in an infinite number of ways. Using Typepad doesn’t automatically make you quick, witty and opinionated. It’s perfectly possible to create a wordy, academic blog — and, on a more positive note, newspapers can certainly create beat-centered blogs that have high editorial standards. Some institutions require editing and sign-off on blog postings (this is true at the Smithsonian’s Eye Level blog.) Some purists would say: “But then it’s not a blog!” I say: Let’s get to the point where we realize the medium does not dictate content or even editorial process, and that “blogging” is simply a means of online publishing that can be fitted to suit any end.

    • Newspaper websites, desperate for readers..”

      I have a problem with that statement. Newspaper websites get the best traffic in any community.

      I think it’s just the evolution you describe. Remember TV/Newspaper convergence? I don’t think this will be as ill-advised as that disaster because smaller egos are involved. ie: Most bloggers will welcome the credibility of being affiliated with a newspaper, and most newspaper writers won’t be as threatened by the “talent.”
      I think this relationship will work to the benefit of both parties.

    • No!

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