Monday, October 08, 2007

Newspapers Isolate Blogs, Readers

It's a new week here on The Editorialiste, but I'm still catching up to old -- but important -- news on the MSM/citizen journalism front.

One recent tidbit that really struck me was when Gawker's Choire Sicha (Choire, say hi to my old classmate Pareene for me) called out newspapers for sectioning off their blogs as a separate section and then expecting readers to want to read them. He writes in "The New Model: Newspapers Now Stuffed Full Of Blogs, But No Clue Where To Put Them":

"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."

Because of this problem, most blog writers on newspaper sites end up giving their sermons to an empty house, he wrote -- and readers are at a loss for where to find 'em in the first place.

Just last week, I spoke with President Eric Grilly, who was kind enough to give me a ring after my recent critique of the site's newest version. We spoke of many things pertaining to the site -- Grilly's all ears when it comes to ideas for the site, and he was kind enough to accept my full-blown, no-holds-barred critique of the site -- and one that I brought up was exactly Sicha's point: that the site sectioned off "Multimedia" and "Blogs" as a separate entity, without any cross-referencing in the sections they pertained to.

In this case, as in many others on newspaper websites, readers looking for Eagles content need to go into two completely different sections to read the latest score and then read an Inquirer staffer's thoughts about it.

This reveals a lot about the new media mindset of the old newspapers: that is, the fact that the "blog" is a "hip," "new" asset to add to the web toolbelt, rather than a different publishing platform for similar content. So instead of integrating the blogs into the sections of the site, they're relegated as their own "look at us, we're so totally web 2.0 with our blogs and out multimedia" (which is really just a slideshow that can be applied to any article with photos attached to it).

So listen up, newspapers: Start asking someone who understands what a blog is and isn't for help in integrating them into your sites. You're already slimming your staff down; why would you waste the work of who's left to the big, empty web void?

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