Saturday, July 21, 2007

Should Newspapers Become Local Blog Networks?

Scott Karp at Publishing 2.0 writes about newspapers jacking up their blog count. I think the thing that most people are missing when it comes to whether newspapers should be more like blogs, or should bloggers be more like reporters, is that we, as blog readers, are really, really interested in who's writing the story we're reading. It's why there are columnists. After a while, people would read anything Dave Barry wrote because, as soon as they saw his name on the column, they knew they were in for a funny article.

But it's the same thing with real news. Our local paper just had a bunch of articles on the competence of the county auditor, many written by a reporter named James Boyd. They're good, if controversial, articles, and ended with the online version having dozens of comments along the lines of, "the real story is...", "what the paper needs to do is...", "why on earth didn't they report on...", and finally Mr. Boyd, possibly tired of all this, chimed in with his side of the story and explained just why he reported on what he did, and what kind of feedback he got from the auditor. The comments immediately became much nicer.

Why? Because people then realized they weren't just trashing a corporation, they were trashing a real person, and one willing and able to defend his actions. It created a conversation rather than a soapbox. So, even though Mr. Boyd is a reporter, I think what I'd really like to see on the site is his pseudo-blog: maybe nothing more than a list (with, of course, RSS feed) of all the stories he writes. When we know who's on the other side of the pen, the story becomes a lot more interesting.