by Cathy Resmer
Amy Gahran writes about conversational media at the Poynter Institute, and I've been following a discussion she's prompted about newspaper blogs — i.e. why have them? It's a question I thought a lot about as I was bringing 802 Online to Seven Days last year, and it's something I return to often as I think about how to expand our online content here.
Gahran solicits comments from journos. One of the most interesting was from Laura Fries, web editor of Atlanta-based alt. weekly Creative Loafing. Laura writes, "I think it goes without saying that sometimes the excitement over a newblog comes before the work of figuring out what exactly the blog shouldbe. I created this set of bullet point guidelines to help guide editors and writers through the process of setting up a focused new blog."
If you're thinking about starting a blog, read Fries' guidelines. She makes some excellent points.
I bring this up because I know Vermont newspapers are interested in blogs. In fact, all of the media folks on the traditional media panel I attended for Leadership Champlain on Tuesday talked about how excited they are about the Internet, and the possibilities it offers for journalists to experiment.
I'm a big fan of online experimentation, but I'm also interested in honest feedback about how those experiements are going. We've gotta learn something, after all.
I just scrolled through my blogroll to take a look at the various newspaper blogs around the state, and I'm wondering how people think these experiments are going?
Hall Monitor, for example. Darren Allen's much-balleyhooed blog about the statehouse. Well the legistlature ended the session yesterday. With all those last-minute deals, you'd think he would have written something, but he hasn't posted since April 26. What gives, Darren? We miss you.
49 School Street, the Stowe Reporter's news blog, hasn't been updated since April 28. Are readers not responding?
Rutland Herald Readers' Roundtable lists 5 contributors, but only 3 of them have posted in 06, one of them only once. And nobody since May 3. Is anybody reading this?
Times Argus Reader Roundtable lists four bloggers, one of whom is the TA editor, but it's almost entirely made up of posts by Rama Schneider.
Montreal Now, Jim Lowe's Montreal blog, has always been updated infrequently, but it also looks amateurish. What's with the weird paragraph breaks? I mean, if you're going to spend the time and money to have a blog, you ought to at least make the effort to learn how blogs should look and work.
Compare it, for example, with TA writer Heather Aja's Get Real. Now that's a blog. I don't read it often — it's about reality TV, and I don't have a TV — but when I click on her site, I immediately see that she gets blogging.
Much of this is about the RH/TA, I know. I don't mean to pick on them, but they launched all this stuff, and I think it's time for a conversation about how it's going.
One traditional media personality who's launched a fairly successful blog is VPR commentator Philip Baruth, who publishes Vermont Daily Briefing. Philip's site looks like a blog. It works like a blog (albeit without comments). He reads other blogs, links to them, and comments on them, thereby inserting himself into the blogosphere.
Of course, Philip is doing that on his own, independent of any media organization. Maybe that's why it works? Or maybe not. Feel free to share your thoughts, and to comment on our 7 Days blogs, too. Like Shot in the Dark — I like the photos, but does anybody use that?