Thursday, September 14, 2006

NY Times web producer cannot understand blogs

They're so warped by print tradition, ad sponsorship, institutional bias, and editorial censorship--these MainStream Media types who venture into blogging. They. Just. Don't. Get. It.

Micro Content Skills are Lacking

MSM journalists still don't understand web content writing and effective post formats.

They persist in composing lengthy articles with dense paragraphs. They don't use enough bold, subheads, numbered or bulleted lists, photos, or hyperlinks. This is my main complaint: MSM "blogs" (blogoid objects to more precise) typically fail to include links within the editorial content of the online article.

Links are put into the text of a post to provide a path for readers. This path typically leads to a web site or blog that contains the source or substantiating information.

Go look at a MSM blog, say a major metro newspaper's "blog" thing.

(1) LINKS. Usually, there are no hyperlinks, or a list of footnote format links under the "For more information" subhead. Putting links in a footnote type section at the end of a post removes the links from the context of the flow of the story. Better to embed links within the editorial content, so readers can bounce over there, then bounce back, and re-enter the narrative stream of the article.

(2) COMMENTS. Reader remarks are generally handled by an invitation to "Respond to this story in our Reader Forums". A discussion forum platform removes the readers from the specific post, dumps them into a separate environment, where they either have to start a new topic thread, or hunt for one that is relevant.

Here's a new twist: an IT professional who is a NY Times journalist. His attempt to start a blog gets bogged down in server and security issues. He mentions Blogger, MySpace, and Typepad. No consideration of WordPress. In the end, he gives up.

"Web journalist, know thyself"
by Jonathan Morgan
Online Journalism Review (OJR)- Sept. 13, 2006


My first blog site is named sideways_reporting, implying that journalists need to collaborate more with each other – between publications, across great distances, etc. And if you haven't heard of it, it's because I haven't posted a word to it in the nine months I have been paying for the account. I am still keeping Mom and the rest of the world waiting.


My comment posted to this article:


I feel your pain, but you seem to have taken a simple procedure and made it unnecessarily complex. Is it because, as an IT guy, you are so tangled up in the software and server problems, that you can't see the prolific forest for the decision trees?

Your writing is good, bloggy, but need to break those paragraphs into bite-sized chunks. Study micro-content writing, ala Jakob Nielsen. Web writing is different from print.

You MSM journalists just can't seem to grasp the simplicity, speed, and freedom of blogs. You fail to mention the blogosphere support, the other bloggers who can help you. You also fail to mention the many CEOs, journalists, political pundits, tech gurus, marketing consultants, book authors, and social critics who have successful blogs.

Your article is focused on your problems and opinions.

A successful and effective blog focuses on your audience needs and interests, you should use an entry to benefit others, and not just air your own complaints.

A reader will just be even more baffled than before, after reading this well intended and sincere gripe. Your rant is not wild enough for a blog, and is lacking a helpful angle.

There are solutions, you breeze through them. You give no guidance on the various blog platforms: Blogger vs. Typepad vs. Squarespace vs. LiveJournal vs. WordPress.

I don't recall any mention of WordPress, which is what many serious tech guys use. I use Blogger for my flagship Vaspers the Grate blog, with a unique external (non-generic Blogger provided) design template and sidebar enhancements. I also have a more simple and more business-like WordPress blog, Corporate Blog Revolution.

I also have a TechRepublic blog.

Sadly, you MSM guys still. just. don't. get. it.


1 comment:

Newsandseduction said...

bless the bloggers. traditional media has difficult days ahead.