Every now and then, I come across a blog post that hits so close to home that I just find myself nodding, wordlessly, as I read it. Choire Sicha, the editor at Gawker and former editor at the New York Observer (whose name is pronounced “cory see-ka,” in case you’re interested) wrote just such a post on a topic close to my heart: namely, newspapers and blogs.
Choire’s post is entitled “Newspapers Now Stuffed Full Of Blogs, But No Clue Where To Put Them,” and he scans the landscape of newspaper blogs from the New York Times and the Guardian to the Chicago Tribune and the Miami Herald, and finds plenty of blogs, but poorly organized:
“Nearly all newspaper websites mistakenly segregate their blogs off with the other blogs. They’re organizing by form, not by content.
Readers just don’t come to a newspaper’s website looking for a messy passel of blogs. They come looking for sports, or fashion, no matter what “form” it’s in. Old newspaper editors may think blogs are some crazy different variety of publication; readers don’t.”
I’m not sure Choire is quite right on that one. I admit that ghettoizing blogs doesn’t seem quite right either, or grouping them together just because they’re blogs. But I also think that if the word means anything to people at all, it means a personal take on something — and one that encourages (hopefully) reader interaction in the form of comments, etc. I often look for blogs because I know they will give me that, and I expect others do as well. Choire makes a good point about lots of bloggers “screaming into the void,” with nary a comment on them — presumably because readers can’t find them. In many cases, I suspect that this is because the papers in question are making fairly poor use of things like prominently displayed RSS feeds, keywords that are hooked into Technorati or some other blog indexing engine, and the ability to ping blog search engines with new posts.
Jeff Jarvis makes the point that blogs may not even belong on newspaper sites in the first place. Jeff is a big believer in the idea of keeping blogs separate, and forming a loose federation with a newspaper (which is what he does with his PrezVid blog), and I think that is an interesting way of solving the monetization issue while still keeping the blogger’s voice separate and distinct.
Plenty of room for improvement, let’s put it that way :-)