June 1, 2006 4:00 AM PDT

Newspapers woo bloggers with mixed results

Related Stories

Bloggers record Katrina destruction

August 29, 2005

The future of blogging

April 5, 2005

Bloggers bold in election-night coverage

November 3, 2004
Explosive college basketball coach Bobby Knight once summed up his views on journalists, and in doing so may have unintentionally explained why newspapers are struggling to deal with Internet bloggers.

"All of us learn to write in the second grade," Knight said while the coach at Indiana University, according to a 1983 story in the Washington Post. "Most of us go on to greater things."

Blogs written by so-called citizen journalists are increasingly challenging newspapers for readers. According to a recent study by Forrester Research, blogs and newspaper Web sites now have the same audience share--about 17 percent--among Internet users between the ages of 18 and 24.

"Newspapers still have a larger overall audience," says Charlene Li, a Forrester analyst. "But blogs are catching up quickly."

Initially caught off guard by blogs, newspapers and old-guard news agencies are now racing to present their own. So far, the results have been mixed. While papers such as the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman are using blogs to give readers a news voice they never had before, other papers like the Washington Post are struggling with everything from charges of plagiarism in their blogs to being labeled with the word every editor dreads--boring.

Last week, the Associated Press, the century-old news agency, signed a cross-marketing deal with Technorati, a search-engine for blog postings. Technorati agreed to scan for blogs that include links to AP stories. The search engine will then create a Web page where it will display the blogs in addition to original AP stories.

The deal follows similar agreements between Technorati and Washington Post Co., owner of the Washington Post and Newsweek magazine.

Also in recent weeks, the Arizona Republic, Des Moines Register and San Jose Mercury News were among a group of publishers that signed up for BlogBurst, a blog syndication service. Under the terms of the agreement, newspapers can publish any of the more than 1,500 blogs featured by the service.

Got views on Vista?

The Austin (Texas) American-Statesman rounds out the newspaper's travel coverage with one of BlogBurst's travel blogs. Jim Debth, who manages the Statesman's Web site, said connecting with a paper's readers now means including their voice. Besides BlogBurst, which is operated by Austin-based Pluck, The American-Statesman also offers tools on its Web site that enable readers to create their own blogs, which can then be posted on the paper's Web site.

Since starting the latter service last September, the newspaper has seen readers create 875 blogs, which are recording about 2,500 page views a day, according to Debth. He acknowledges that the blogs have yet to attract huge audiences, but the point is to offer readers a chance to connect with likeminded folks.

"The idea behind this is to create more of a community," Debth said. "You create community and you'll increase traffic and loyalty."

Ethical stumbles, journalistic detritus
Publishing content produced by nonprofessionals comes after scores of newspapers asked their own editorial staffs to write blogs. At many publications, the results were mixed. In March, the Washington Post was heavily criticized for hiring Ben Domenech, a former Bush administration aide, to write a blog for Washingtonpost.com without doing more to check his writing credentials.

Three days after hiring Domenech, the 24-year-old resigned amid charges that he plagiarized material he had written for other publications. Domenech denied that he knowingly committed plagiarism, the Post reported.

The Los Angeles Times, meanwhile, announced recently that it was discontinuing the column and Internet blog of Michael Hiltzik, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, because he posted comments on his blog and other online sites under assumed names. The newspaper said that while Hiltzik did not commit any ethical violations or print any inaccuracies, he violated the Times' policy of writing under pseudonyms.

Another hurdle for newspapers is making sure that their blogs don't bore readers, said Patrick Williams, managing editor of the Dallas Observer, a weekly publication. He says that too often newspaper blogs are filled with leftovers from stories too long to fit in the paper that day.

"They're filled with all the news not fit for print," Williams wrote. "They're a place where writers go when reporting is just too hard. Let us pray...that blogs can go back to what they should be: teenagers and college students talking about sex and music."

Despite his distaste for news blogs, Williams says he values news and he believes that news stories are what drive the need for blogs and not the other way around.

"If I were the king of journalism, I'd force newspapers to stop publishing for a month," Williams said. "Then let's see what would happen to blogs. Facts have to be the basis of opinion at some point. And if a blogger is collecting facts, then at what point does the publication cease being a blog and become an Internet news site?"

See more CNET content tagged:
newspaper, Technorati, blog, Austin, blogger

8 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
it's
inevitable
Posted by sexlove2046 (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Modern Newspapers
First, I have always just loved reading the newspapers and still
keep trying. Unfortunately these days I find the picking pretty
darned slim with newspapers merely glossing over the most
prevalent stories with little or no in depth investigating or
reporting.

The big reason I see in the decline of newspaper popularity is
their aggregate failure over the past 20-30 years to uphold any
real responsibilities as public 'watchdogs'. This is particularly
true in the recent run up to the Iraq War and it's follow-up. The
large majority of mainstream media have essentially become
lapdogs to whichever group currently holding the reins of
power. That is one consequence of big corporate ownership I
believe.

That leaves the field wide open to the fringe media and now
blogs are jumping in to fill the void as well. The public is
disposed to seek the nitty-gritty no matter what and if the
media fails to provide it the public will find it wherever they can
- even flavored or slanted in particular directions by fringe
groups.

It's a pity to see the newspapers go . . .
Posted by gnarlyolsen (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
modern news paper
Modern news papers became proffesion today.They are doing business only. They have nothing to do with public.The cut throt compitition from blogs(in west)and other news papers ruined there responsibilty.they are no the fourth piller of democrcy eventually they became the mouthpiece of rulling govrnments.
We have to think again on the theory of checks and balances.
Posted by virendra1711 (1 comment )
Link Flag
And the NY Times...
lost me as a reader when they started charging. The opinion pieces were the main reason I read the Times. It may be the "paper of record" but there really isn't any in-depth coverage of any issue--and like most papers is written at about the 7th-8th grade level. Even poorly written blogs surpass that!
Posted by Raemir (15 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Couldn't agree more - Try the LA Times!
I find even articles I missed a day ago are now in a pay-to-play archive. No access to the editorial writers. It's all a bunch of *****. LA Times has superiour writing throughout and has become my first source.
Posted by docscook (1 comment )
Link Flag
great news
many journalists got too full of themselves, and thrived on manipulating public opinion for selfish gain.
Posted by df561 (94 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Blog v Internet news site
My blog (<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://skymania.blogspot.com" target="_newWindow">http://skymania.blogspot.com</a>) is indeed an Internet news
site and what is wrong with that? I'm a professional journalist with
many years of Fleet Street experience and I see this as a great way
of getting space stories out there and hopefully getting better
syndicated and adding a strand to my income.

Paul
SpaceStories.com
Posted by SpaceStories (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
very nice post.... great work
Posted by maichelboulis (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.