Friday, March 1, 2013

Major media and blogging

Dan Gilmor's story about how he and another blogger shaped the characterization of Quest's CEO Joe Nacchio was fascinating. In our new age of networked communication, blogs have the ability to shape public discourse and set agendas almost as much as the "Big Media" he described.

What has me interested, is how major news sources and organizations are adapting to the blog culture. Almost as a byproduct of what blogs are and how they came about, it is not surprising they easily can be, and quite often are, are behind the times.

I think by now you all know I like lists and charts. According to Technorati.com, as of Friday (3/1/13) these are the top ten blogs by web traffic. Notice that none of them are run by "Big Media."

1. Huffington Post
2. BuzzFeed
3. Mashable
4. Business Insider
5. The Verge
6. Gawker
7. Engadget
8. Gizmodo
9. Ars Technica
10. TechCrunch

Other notable in their top 25 list include No. 11 La Now which is run by LA Times website. No. 21 is Bits Blog which is run by the New York Times website. Each of these blogs has a chief editor as well as content from all over their parent sites. They are prime examples of how major news organizations can dive into the realm of blogs.

Some of my favorite reporting comes from blogs. But more than that, some of my favorite reporting is done in blog format. I believe news blogs work well when they take into account the way the Internet works. Short and sweet posts, images, short videos, behind-the-scenes and a little more informal than a normal newspaper article.

The two blogs I read the most are sports blogs, as I tend to still rely on newspaper or TV websites for my hard news and breaking news updates. However, when it comes to sports. I prefer blogs.

One more blog of note in Technorati's list is No. 19 SB Nation which is a sports aggregation  Each professional sports franchise and major college program has their own offshoot site off the main SB (Sports Blog) Nation front. I spoke last week in class about how, even as a sports fan, I cannot depend on ESPN anymore for my sports coverage as they are too engrossed with entertainment for my liking. However, I frequent SB Nation blogs as they act both as news aggregation and as news watchdogs.

Take my SB Nation blog of choice, Over the Monster, the Red Sox blog one-off. This no-pay site is run by a handful of unpaid administrators who create and grab content of the web to create a one-stop place for Red Sox fans.

To contrast SB Nation, here is my favorite blog ran by a news organization (again, a Red Sox blog). It is the Boston Globe's Red Sox specific page titled Extra Bases. A reporter named Peter Abraham first created and ran a blog about the Yankees while working at The Journal News in New York City. The Globe hired Abraham away with the main purpose of creating and fostering a new blog for their Red Sox coverage.

I spoke to Abraham a few winters ago and he said he feels this is the future of sports coverage, if not news coverage altogether. The blog features unique content not available anywhere else, including the Boston Globe's website. This blog, and their others like in on their site (now featuring the Patriots, Celtics and Bruins) shows what I feel is one of the ideal ways to cover sports as a major media outlet. It is more substantive than any SB Nation blog and there is better access than you would get from any old blogger in the stands or at home. It now gets some of the highest traffic on the Globe website.

In summary, I feel major news outlets have the ability to create content people want in a blog format. Many are jumping on that train, such as the NY Times and LA Times and Boston Globe, but there is a lot of work to do. Blogs can be an ideal format for reporting, but it could mean changing the way people have done it for a long time which is always a tough task.

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