Showing posts with label blogging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blogging. Show all posts

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.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Quality of Local Political Blogs: Compare and Contrast

I've been writing various articles for Bloomingpedia in the last month or so, in an effort not so much to improve that site as to understand better the town in which I live. One of the keys to understanding a city, I think, is to gather a lot of different perspectives from a lot of different individuals with a stake in the matter. Take Indianapolis, for example: there are a lot of places you can go to get an impression of how the city is doing. Ruth Holladay; Matt Tully. Taking Down Words; Indy Undercover. You have to gather them all together before you can make a critical analysis of what's really going on; but they're there, that's the important thing.

Or you could read the Indianapolis Star. But I don't have much trust in the Main Stream Media. Their goal never seems to be so much the truth as it is finding someone who disagrees, no matter how foolish or inane that person may be, and unless you already know the subject matter pretty well, you can't tell from the way the article is written which is the inane perspective and which is sensible. So that leads you back to blogs.

Here are four local politicians who have been on my mind lately: Marty Hawk, Dave Rollo, Scott Tibbs, Sophia Travis. How easy is it to get their perspectives on local issues?

Far and away the best online writer in this group is Sophia Travis. If you just looked at the MSM, you wouldn't think much of her except that she's a little flaky (an accordion player with political aspirations? Weird!) But when you read her blog, not only is she talking about the tough political issues, but she's following up on comments people leave; leaving comments on other local blogs; sending in questions to local online chats; really being a part of the conversation about what Monroe County is, and what it should be. It would be great if every politician had an online presence like Sophia's.

Second best is Scott Tibbs. I actually started this post thinking about what I don't like about Scott's blog: there's no real comment area on it, just a link to a bulletin board, which I assume is also run by him, and which you have to register on before you can comment. He says that's to avoid spammers, but obviously a lot of bloggers manage to allow real comments without going to that extreme. But the point is, he writes, and discusses, and allows discussion of his views in some form. So I can't take too much umbrage, especially compared to:

Dave Rollo. He's got a web page; it's a start. The page is very static; the main page has a "last updated" date on it, but there's nothing to find what was there before. There's only a few paragraphs discussing his views, and there's no way to leave public comments, and if he's ever left a comment online I haven't seen it. Start a blog, Dave. He did participate in an online chat recently, and having a web page puts him ahead of:

Marty Hawk. Not much to say here, because I really couldn't find out anything. She gets quoted in the local paper from time to time, and you can go read the minutes of the Monroe Council meetings and find some things she said. But right now, the number 2 hit on Google when you search for her name is the article I wrote on her last week. So we really don't know too much about her at all. It leaves me defining her, rather than having her defining herself. If that's what she wants, then that's fine.

So that's where we are in online local politics in Bloomington. It's a start. But I wish there were a lot more politicians in the conversation.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The blogging split

I got into a discussion with someone concerning the blogosphere and its effect on corporations today. Here's something I hadn't really thought about in a couple of years: when was the last time someone was dooced? It's been a while, I think; or at least when it does happen it's not much of a story and the mainstream media doesn't pick it up.

So what happened? Did everyone just sort of "get it" ? I would say more that the world is sort of partitioning itself off now. On the corporate side, corporations are splitting into sort of "New Media" companies, Microsoft and Sun, where bloggers are allowed almost free rein, and "Old Media" companies, Wal-Mart say, or GM, where they feel it's very important that the company try to keep absolute control of the image of the company and don't allow their employees much say. That's not to say there isn't crossover; I understand one Microsoft division wanted Robert Scoble fired after he said something critical about the company, while GM actually has a blog...a rather corporate-oriented one, to be sure, but it does allow comments and they don't appear to censor them for criticizing the company.

On the other hand bloggers, or better I should say people, are splitting off as well. You see a lot of blogs around where someone started the blog, posted a few things, then apparently dropped off the face of the earth. Or possibly they write an article once a month or so apologizing for not blogging more and promising to do better from now on. Hey, blogging is hard, and most of us aren't getting paid for it. I've been known to go a month or two without posting. So there's more of a split between people who blog and people who read.

So I suspect what's happening is that people who blog, are moving over to work for companies who support blogging! Maybe not a momentous insight, but I can't think of anyone else who's come out and said it. People who don't blog, can stick around with the companies that are trying so hard to control their messages. That's why, I suspect, that you haven't heard much noise about doocing recently. People have sorted out where they belong; companies have clearer policies about what they expect and employees have a clearer understanding of what they're looking for.

(If they don't, I guess they'll have to buy Shel Israel's new book to clarify things.)