Friday, April 20, 2007

Blogs and columns

On Wednesday I wrote a posting on journalists and bloggers as well as blogs and newspapers. Subject was the public debate in The Netherlands. Today I will be discussing blogs and newspapers in general. The reason for this is that I have been busy with the jury assignment of the EPpy Awards for the past days. I have been doing this for a decade now. The judging process for the EPpy Awards has been closed today.

Since 1997 I have been a jury member of this prestigious award. The EPpy Awards, run by Editor and Publisher and Mediaweek, honours the best Internet services presented by media-affiliated companies, including newspapers, radio, TV/Cable and magazines. The footprint of the competition is international, but entries come mainly from the US. Every jury members gets assigned a few categories. For me the evaluation exercise is an opportunity to see the trends in newspaper world and see how newspapers get accustomed to digital media. This year I had three categories to evaluate. All three contained a pre-selection of entries. One of the categories dealt with newspaper-related blogs in a specific area.

It has taken sometime for journalists to understand the relationship between newspapers and blogs. And having worked my way through the entries of the newspaper-related blogs in a specific area, I am not sure whether all editorial staffs do really understand the relationship.

It is clear that many a newspaper manager has offered a space to a blogger in order to yield more traffic to the internet site. More traffic, more attraction for advertisers, more money. To the blogger it will give a secured income and professional marketing.

The editorial staffs have been wrestling with blogs. Do blogs deliver news and if they do, how do you present it. Blogs are still author related and is not part of the official journalistic articles. Can a blog be used as the precursor in investigative journalism? But so far blogs, except for some US ones, have not been really used by newspapers to harvest news for the public debate.

I discovered that US newspapers often use blogs as a replacement for the former columns. Column writers have either been exchanged for bloggers or column writers have been given a special blogging course. You can see it from the writing and the reaction to the postings. Existing column writers write formally and do not solicit reactions and do not get any reactions to their postings. You can also see it in the lay-out of the postings. Column writers still stick close to a newspaper lay-out, while others have a real blog design and use photographs and even drawings. In the newspaper blogs movies were not part of the toolkit. While I saw the movies being used on the front page of internet sites, not one blogger in a newspaper context had movies in their toolbox.

(BTW The EPpy Awards has only a category of media-related blogs. There is no category for non-media related blogs. That is a pity as it could stimulate the discussion about the position of bloggers in the news provision: do bloggers have a position in the journalistic value chain; should bloggers have a journalistic status).

Blog Posting Number: 729

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