Good advice

Andrew Revkin’s blog Dot Earth is a model for how journalists can use the blog format in reporting. Now Revkin leaves the New York Times with some well chosen words of advice:

I’lll keep blogging, of course. Frankly, I consider it an unavoidable responsibility of communicators. It has not been easy to blog, particularly while synchronizing that effort with ongoing print work. Through moderating tens of thousands of comments, I’lve had to deal with some angry people not interested in learning, but far more individuals with a thirst for community and understanding and a willingness to encounter contrary views as part of that quest. In many ways, this kind of two-way communication is well suited to the implicit complexities and uncertainty attending life on a crowding planet that is showing signs of strain from the blazingly fast expansion of this human experiment.

Guardian hiring “beatbloggers” for local project

From the Guardian’s digital content blog:

Starting with Leeds, Cardiff and Edinburgh, is planning to launch a local news project in a small number of locations. At the moment is looking for bloggers – with journalistic qualifications “desirable” – to help cover community news, and report on local developments. The project will emphasise local political decision-making, and is scheduled to go live next year.

The job description for bloggers:

Working from your home, or anywhere with WiFi, as a ‘beatblogger’ you will lead the Guardian’s innovative approach to community news coverage in Leeds. This will include reporting on local meetings and events with an emphasis on local political decision making, identifying issues of importance to local residents and signposting information and news provided via other sources. You will be willing to collaborate with others to create a vital resource for the city.

Niches and worried journalists

Strange: Everywhere I look there are stories, interviews and analyses about the future of journalism, crisis in the media etc, but I’m not getting fed up with it! A selection of the latest:

Michael Massing is upbeat about the news-producing potential of blogs in New York Review of Books.

Chris Anderson does some good fencing with Spiegel Online.

Umair Haque presents a “nichepaper manifesto”:

Nichepapers are the future of news because their economics are superior. All the Nichepapers above are “real” enterprises, with staff, offices, and fixed and variable costs. Nichepapers offer more bang for the buck: greater benefits for far less cost. Readers get more, better, and faster content – while publishers realize lower capital intensity, lower distribution, marketing, and production costs, and less risk. What is different about them is that they are finding new paths to growth, and rediscovering the lost art of profitability by awesomeness.

Afterthought: Are their economics really superior? How good are their numbers? What about examples from other countries?

Print magazine + web: a great combination?

Foreign Policy magazine is out with a relaunched website with a selection of new blogs, one of them by Dan Drezner (see Undercurrent interview). According to the Passport blog, the objective is to create “a vibrant, daily online magazine of global politics, economics, and ideas.” What’s interesting here is where Foreign Policy is coming from. A very slow bi-monthly print magazine now has a website that is updated many times a day with instant analysis. The web has made such expansion possible for serious print magazines (The Atlantic is another example). Maybe the print versions of these long-form, analytical magazines aren’t as exposed to web migration as daily newspapers. Their “content” lasts longer. Could this print-web combination be a winning media format?

The value of reported blogs

The New York Times website has been blocked by Chinese censors. China-based writer and blogger Adam Minter argues that the impact for web users in China is smaller than it would have been a few years ago. The reason is the proliferation of reported blogs — that is, blogs where the emphasis is on checking and reporting facts rather than expressing opinions:

I don’t mean to suggest that the block isn’t important. But it is interesting (to me, at least) that it is so much less consequential to consumers of English-language news in China, in 2008, than it would have been even two years ago (admittedly, a small group of people, even including the Chinese readers of English). If I had the competence to read and understand the Chinese language blogs that break news, I’d guess that it would matter even less.

(Story found on James Fallows’ blog. Fallows had the story about the NYT block first — on his blog).


1. Some YouTube video publishers are pulling in serious advertising money:

YouTube declined to comment on how much money partners earned on average, partly because advertiser demand varies for different kinds of videos. But a spokesman, Aaron Zamost, said “hundreds of YouTube partners are making thousands of dollars a month.” At least a few are making a full-time living: Mr. Buckley said he was earning over $100,000 from YouTube advertisements.

2. Iain Dale, “neither politician nor journalist”:

He gets £12-15,000 per year from advertising, but, Dale adds, a lot of his income is on the back of the blog, if not directly related. The work he does for Sky and the Telegraph, for example.

The forgotten editors’ blog

Kristine Løwe revisits the editors’ blog that she organized for the Norwegian Editors Associations conference a year ago. That was fun and an interesting experience. But as she says, that blog was quickly abandoned and forgotten. Today I found myself at this year’s editors conference, and no one mentioned that blog. But in a session where the editors should come up with ideas on how to increase their openness, editor-blogging was brought up once more. Terje Angelshaug, reader ombudsman at Bergens Tidende and the only one in Norway with this job, proposed blogging or a regular webpage where editors meet readers and explain editorial choices and policy. After group discussions, there were differing views on this idea. One group’s conclusion was that with the busy schedule of chief editors there’s just not enough time to blog regularly. And they also feared that such a blog would be boring (a quite astonishing remark from people who are supposed to be responsible for producing engaging journalism, in my opinion!). But another group was more positive; here an editors’ blog or a perpetual chat session with readers was recommended. Well, we’ll see, then. For the time being, Pål Hivand’s toon comment says it all. The blog was finished last year, right??

UPDATE May 8. There’s a discussion about this topic on Eirik Newth’s blog (in Norwegian).

Blog til you drop? Not me

This is why I’ve always been skeptical to the idea of blogging for a living:

A growing work force of home-office laborers and entrepreneurs, armed with computers and smartphones and wired to the hilt, are toiling under great physical and emotional stress created by the around-the-clock Internet economy that demands a constant stream of news and comment.

The health risk is not the only reason, though. Paid blogging as it is portrayed in the New York Times story, sounds to me more like round-the-clock news agency reporting or the assembly-line-style breaking news production at news websites. Blogging as it should be is — for me — something else completely: taking new ideas and thoughts for a test-drive, experimenting with writing in a loose and unpretentious and informal way that is impossible in a paid environment, even taking days off from blogging if I don’t feel that I have anything to say there and then. Actually, it’s a way of escaping from tedious work, so it’s really ironic if people substitute the assembly line for the sweatshop!

24/7 blogging about something you’re very interested in can be fun for a while, as several sources note in the NYT story, but then you have to earn your living in another way — and return to “free” blogging.