Weblogs and newspapers

We recently dissed newspapers for their online cluelessness. We pointed out that only two newspapers – The Age and the Guardian – bothered to run Weblogs.

Well, Adam Gaffin wrote in to point out two more:

The Weblog format is merely the beginning of the ways print newspapers can become more Web-compatible. And each paper should run more than one Weblog. One per section is more like it: A business, a sports, an entertainment, a “women’s section” Weblog.

Encourage your writers and editors to hunt for links and post them on the Weblog. Using Blogger- or Pyra-style tools, it takes seconds over an office Ethernet connection to publish the links. And yes, you can run them past an editor; standard screenings for libel and suchlike can remain in place, but the goal is quick turnaround, far quicker than a daily dead-tree edition.

Better yet, encourage your star reporters, or at least your youngest reporters, to be front and centre on the blogs. If you have a particularly bright 22-year-old who is stuck doing copy-editing due to the entrenched, fossilized hierarchies of the newspaper industry, compensate that person by branding the Weblog with his or her name. If that incites envy among staff, do the same for a couple of other writers.

Suddenly your online readers don’t merely have the option of visiting your site for blog-style links. They get to watch a race among competing in-house bloggers. Just as Procter & Gamble produces competing brands in the same category, all the better to capture market share, running multiple in-house blogs reduces the standard fear of the middle-aged: “I don’t want people leaving our site.”

If you really believe that, you ought to do us a favour and pack up your computer, hand it to one of your kids, and retire to the golf course until your ticker seizes up. But if you want to be more constructive, think of it this way: With n Weblogs on your site and none whatsoever or merely a single blog on your competitors’ sites, you stand an nfold higher chance of keeping your readers’ eyeballs within your walled fortress.

Posted on 2000-07-25