Tag Archives: blogs


ChicagoNOW editors make blog aggregation look like U.S. rocket science in the Sputnik era (Flickr photo by numberstumper/CC)

ChicagoNOW editors make blog aggregation look like early U.S. rocket science: Misfires (Flickr pic: numberstumper/CC)

Blog aggregation is not rocket science.

It does, however, require common sense.

And common sense would seem to scream: “STOP! DON’T DO IT” if someone suggested creating a stand-alone website made up of a bunch of largely anonymous writers with no organizing principle other than that the writers are all largely anonymous and all from Chicago.

But that’s what the Chicago Tribune’s highly touted “ChicagoNOW” is doing. No categories (well, there’s “recent posts”). Virtually no promotion on the Tribune site. No promotion in the print version of the Trib. No helpful editorial decisions indicating that a couple of blogs that day are really excellent. Continue reading


"Hey, honey, I've got a great idea for Friday night! Whaddya say we go home and read some generic user-generated blogs tonight?! Sound like fun?" (Flickr photo by larryfishkorn/CC/With permissions)

"Hey, honey, I've got a great idea for Friday night! Whaddya say we go home and read some generic user-generated blogs tonight?! Sound like fun?" (Flickr photo by larryfishkorn/CC/With permissions)


When was the last time your colleagues said they were heading out for a wild weekend of reading generic user-generated blogs?

Never, right?

No one (in their right mind) reads blogs just because some other reader wrote them.

And yet, that’s what editors must think because they keep putting ALL reader-written blogs together on one big web page (ghetto), whether those bloggers are writing about knitting or martial arts or kitty cats or Jesus. How fascinating. How compelling. Continue reading


Le Monde's website integrates high-quality non-staff blogs like this one.

Le Monde's website integrates high-quality non-staff blogs like this one.

In my last post, I looked at the failures of newspapers who are trying to do the right thing (incorporate high-quality local bloggers) but failing because they are either opening the doors to everyone (it’s fun but mostly nonsense), they are putting the bloggers in a blogger “ghetto” all by themselves (as if readers were interested in reading any blog), or they are turning their blogger aggregation operations over to an outside company — for example, in the case of the Des Moines paper, to Pluck (note: Chris Snider pointed out in his comments that the Register is doing good work elsewhere on their site; more on that soon).

It’s not like there aren’t great examples of successful blog aggregation staring newspapers right in the face.

The Huffington Post came into Chicago and stole great local bloggers who otherwise might have appeared in the Tribune and driven traffic to the paper's website instead of the interloping HuffPo.

The Huffington Post came into Chicago and stole great local bloggers who otherwise might have appeared in the Tribune and driven traffic to the paper's website instead of the interloping HuffPo.

By embarrassingly stark contrast to clueless newspapers, the Huffington Post came into Chicago and stole the very best local bloggers from under the Chicago Tribune’s nose. HuffPo gave those bloggers an enviably simple and attractive HuffPo URL on one of the most popular sites in the world (e.g., http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-jones, and http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-cusack). Continue reading


Dodo Bird silhouette(The INNOVATIONS IN NEWSPAPERS 2009 World Report is out and I have a piece in it called, “Can Top-Quality Local Bloggers Help Rescue Newspapers.” I republish it here for those who have not seen the report. It can be ordered here. This is the first of two parts.)

No one knows what the Dodo bird sounded like. But it might have sounded a lot like the bleating of today’s newspaper editors: “Never change, never change, never change!”

The Dodo bird was fatally fearless of its predators and could not evolve fast enough to survive in a changing environment. By the late 1600s, it was gone.

Wake-up call to newspapers: Don’t be dodos! It’s not too late to evolve. But time is running out. And here’s a tip: When it comes to information, people want great content.

They do not really care if the content has been created by the newspaper’s own reporters. Readers simply want the BEST content available. Continue reading

Nine minutes that could help save your newspaper: How local bloggers can add content, revenue, reach

When I spoke at the International Newsmedia Marketing Association “The Newspaper Outlook Experience” conference in Vienna, Austria last fall, I was interviewed by Artur Karda, multimedia reporter at Media Regionalne, for the Forum4Editors report on the conference.

This is a shot taken during my presentation at the INMA Europe "Outlook" conference in Vienna, Oct. 2008

This is a shot taken during my presentation at the INMA Europe "Outlook" conference in Vienna, Oct. 2008

Artur e-mailed the video to me recently. In it, he poses all the questions I hear from newspaper publishers and editors, and gets it all into a tight 9-minute piece.

I’m putting it up so everyone can hear, in one concise presentation, all the editorial, advertising and traffic arguments for incorporating high-quality local bloggers into newspaper print and online products.



I want to introduce you to a very exciting project I am working on as the Director of Global Blog Development for a cool new organization called GlobalPost.com.

It will be the first online-only world news service, and will launch in January with 70 correspondents in 53 countries “to satisfy a growing need for independent, reliable, insightful and up-to-the-minute coverage and analysis of news in every region of the world.”

A pioneer in the development of 24-hour local cable news, former New England Cable News President and founder Phil Balboni came up with the idea with another New England legend, Charlie Sennott, the former veteran Boston Globe foreign correspondent. They have an awesome video about their mission on their home page. Go take a look: <a href=http://www.globalnewsenterprises.com/>



I approached them over the summer about adding hundreds of local bloggers from around the world to GlobalPost’s corps of correspondents. While the correspondents are great, they can only be in one place at one time. Bloggers are everywhere. And they are very, very local. Continue reading


Editors are worried about publishing local bloggers in their web pages. I answer their concerns below. (Photo by Tom Carmony, on Flickr/CC)

I just returned from Vienna, Austria where I spoke to the International Newsmedia Marketing Association’s Europe Outlook 2009 Conference about using local bloggers to enhance their reach, relevance and revenue.

Olivier Bonsart, Director Délégué of Ouest-France leads a song at INMA 2008 Europe conference in Vienna.

Olivier Bonsart, Director Délégué of Ouest-France, leads a song at INMA 2008 Europe conference in Vienna. (Photo by Knallgrau; courtesy INMA)

(By the way: Those folks know how to drink! Unlike too many of my American editorial friends who drink to get morose — not a long trip — and stupid, these people drank to have fun. We started with a traditional “Heuriger Dinner” at 8 and were still going strong at 2, taking turns singing drinking songs from each country. With more than 20 countries in attendance, we provided quite a musical buffet at the restaurant, on the bus back to the hotel and in the hotel bar! I’m looking for good American, especially Boston, drinking songs if anyone has suggestions!)

The audience — publishers, editors and marketing directors from more than 20 countries — were very interested in adding local bloggers to their content mix. I have already heard from newspapers in Hungary, England, India, France, Sweden, Belgium, and Poland about how to go about integrating user-generated content in their publications’ websites and print products.

The questions and concerns were the same that I hear when I speak to American editors: What about our hard-earned credibility? How can I trust writers I don’t know? Isn’t there a difference between professional journalists and bloggers? Is there a limit to reader involvement? Couldn’t this just be a publisher trick to cut staff? And, how long will bloggers be willing to do this for free? Continue reading


Editors are not publishing reader blogs on their main website (if at all) and not at all in their print products because of concerns over credibility, professionalism, accuracy, etc. I answer those concerns below and in the previous post. (Photo by cayusa on flickr, CC)

In my last post (“Doubting Thomases“), I began answering the questions of editors who are nervous about publishing local bloggers in their websites and print products.

Prior to my speech Oct. 2 in Vienna, Austria at the International Newsmedia Marketing Association’s Europe 2008 conference, the organizers posed the questions they’d been getting from editors concerned about the use of user-generated content.

In my last post, I answered the first question, “Don’t third-party content providers threaten our hard-earned credibilty?”

Here are questions #2 and #3:

2. Editors are responsible for what they publish. How can they take responsibility for authors and content they know nothing about?
Continue reading


Newspaper editors mimic these monkeys when it comes to incorporating local bloggers in their print and Web pages. (Photo by by Demi Sourire/CC)

Newspaper editors mimic these monkeys when it comes to incorporating local bloggers in their print and Web pages. (Photo by by Demi Sourire/CC)

Even as Technorati is releasing its 2008 State of the Blogosphere report documenting the fact that 346 million people world-wide read blogs, that 184 million people world-wide have started a blog, and that there are almost a million blog posts a day, there are still doubters.

If blogging weren’t such an information creation and disbursement tsunami, I could shrug off editors who shrug off bloggers.

But bloggers represent one very powerful solution to the circulation/readership problems faced by newspapers. And editors ignore them at their peril.
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How many newspaper readers feel a personal connection with their metro daily newspaper? How many think of the paper as “our newspaper” or “my newspaper”?

Nobody I know.

Readers see their metro paper as “their” newspaper, a publication reflecting the interests, opinions, and work of other people not remotely connected to the them and their lives.

Not BostonNOW.

When BostonNOW was up and running (I was the editor-in-chief), we had 3,900 local bloggers posting to their blogs on our site (which, sadly, closed after a year in business when the investors ran out of money in April).

Our bloggers, and their friends, families and business connections, considered BostonNOW “our paper.” And it truly was. The website AND the paper carried their work, and the work of people like them.
Continue reading


The cover slide of the presentation about blogs and newspapers I gave to the national Brazilian newspaper association in August, 2008

The cover slide of the presentation about blogs and newspapers I gave to the national Brazilian newspaper association in August, 2008. Click on the picture to see the high-quality version. (Warning: It is a 21-minute presentation with six embedded video interviews.)

I’m back.

I spent most of August preparing for a big speech at the national Brazil newspaper association’s annual convention about how bloggers can build a newspaper’s circulation, web traffic, and revenue. It took a lot of time gathering data, doing video interviews, editing, creating, etc. (see show above).

My daughter and I at Newport, RI.

My daughter and I at Newport, RI.

Full disclosure: I also spent a wonderful ten days on a work-free vacation on Buzzard’s Bay with my wife and two daughters surfing real waves, not the Web (Melissa and I with our boards on the left)!

Speaking at the Brazil national newspaper conference.

I presented the slide show with six embedded videos in Sao Paulo in late August. You can view it here (medium quality, and it might not work on Firefox) and here (high-quality). More thoughts on the incredibly healthy Brazilian newspaper industry later…
If you don’t want to sit through all 21 minutes of the show, I am going to publish pieces of it here in my blog all week. Each interviewee, in particular, makes a compelling case for newspapers to include local bloggers in the print and online products in a significant way.
Continue reading

The Worst “Blind Pews” of U.S. Newspapers, PT II

You might think that as you move down the list of large American newspapers, away from the tradition-laden (tradition-handicapped?) major metros of the east and west coasts (and, OK, Chicago), that you might find a greater connection between a newspaper and its community (e.g., more local bloggers and vloggers on the papers’ websites).

After all, among the 19 largest circulation metro dailies, we only found seven papers that welcomed bloggers — Denver, Dallas, Houston, Detroit, Minneapolis, Phoenix, and Cleveland (hmmm, no east or west coast papers among that group….). It HAD to get better, right?


Sad to say, local bloggers are no more likely to be integrated into daily newspaper websites as you move down to papers below 400,000 circulation.

Of the next 15 largest metro newspapers (numbers 20-34), only five integrate local bloggers (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Portland Oregonian, Indianapolis Star, Orlando Sentinel and San Antonio Express-News).

So, as editors wave goodbye to more and more laid-off, right-sized, bought-out staffers, those editors remain as incapable as “Blind Pew” of seeing the rich content being created all around them. As the old proverb goes, “God protects fools, children and drunkards,” but probably not purblind editors and the newspapers they work for.

Of the top circulation newspapers in the U.S., these are numbers 11-20 that have chosen to ignore the existence of top-quality bloggers in their midst. (See my Top Ten list here.)
Continue reading

THE BLIND PEWS: The Top 10 Most Purblind Papers

Blind Pew from It’s time to be name names.

Too many big, ordinarily smart newspapers still refuse to involve high-quality local bloggers and vloggers on their websites and in the pages of their paper in any significant way beyond a lame, well-hidden, token local blogger index page (if that).

Now the thieves are at the door, about to make off with the family jewels (audience and advertising) and newspapers are leaving the doors unlocked and the valuables in plain sight.

Arianna Huffington’s announcement last week that she will be launching 12 local Huffington Posts with aggregated news and local bloggers is only the tip of the iceberg, the flashiest fox in the henhouse. The chairman of the board of one of the top U.S. dailies told me last week that he is seeing a lot of other crafty characters coming into his market looking to steal market share in exactly the same way, and he’s finally ready to act.

It’s time for editors to drop their tired excuses: “Bloggers aren’t journalists,” and “they’re just loonies in jammies,” and “my paper’s reputation will be sullied” (hey, guys, YOU choose which ones to publish!).

Pull in the best local bloggers and vloggers now or lose them and the thousands of folks who follow them, going where they can find the best local content and communities of shared interests.

So, in the spirit of your mom’s classic “I’m only going to tell you once more” warning, here’s a whack upside the head for what I’m calling:


Wake up, folks, Huffington is no Backfence


If you are a newspaper editor or publisher, and you haven’t worried about Outside.in, YourStreet, Topix, or BackFence (deceased), it’s finally time to worry.

Like Craig Newmark before her, Huffington Post creator Arianna Huffington plans to steal our lunch. In her case, she’s announced she is going to launch at least a dozen local sites, starting with Chicago this summer.

You could ask a stadium full of people if they had ever heard of YourStreet, Topix, BackFence or Outside.in, and you might hear a faint voice or two from the bleachers. You could FILL dozens of stadiums with people who have not only heard about the Huffington Post but have also been there. Like three to eight million people a month, depending on which measurement you believe.

Now Huffington says she’s coming after our most precious asset: our local readers.
Continue reading

It’s the placement, stupid! Newspapers blow UGC

“It’s the economy, stupid” worked for Clinton.

“It’s the placement, stupid” would work for newspapers’ in their efforts to make user-generated content successful.

But most newspaper websites place (“bury”) user-created stuff in UGC ghettos nowhere near the subjects they’re blogging or vlogging about.

A typical newspaper website nav bar with theme sections and the blog area (or ghetto)

If newspapers treated their own content the way they treat users’ content, there would a newsroom revolt and website anarchy. There would be no “news,” “sports,” “entertainment,” or “opinion” tabs. Everything would go under two tabs: “our stuff” and “your stuff.”

Oh, yeah, reporters (and readers) would LOVE that.

Editors organize and promote their reporters’ and photographers’ best stuff on separate pages by category, displaying it well according to what they think is the best, most compelling stuff.

Not reader blogs. First they bury them, then they don’t promote them, then they gang’em all together with no rhyme or reason.
Continue reading

Houston Chronicle is local blogger heaven

Talk about doing it right.

The Houston Chronicle gets it.

Chron.com\'s citizen-generated Faith blogsThey have local bloggers EVERYWHERE on their site, even on their specialty sites: MomHouston.com and HoustonBelief.com (left).

Most importantly, the citizen bloggers are not buried on a “blogs” page. They are incorporated on the theme-appropriate Web page: citizen sports bloggers are on the Sports home page; local political bloggers are on the Politics home page; ditto, Health, Tech, Gardening, Entertainment, even Real Estate!

Not only that, chron.com promotes the most recent local blogger posts prominently on the chron.com home page, right below the main news stories.
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Huffington sticks it to the NYT

Arianna Huffington speaking at the 2008 Interactive Media Conference in Las Vegas, May 15. (John Wilpers photo)

How many bloggers would brag that their standards surpass the New York Times?

Arianna Huffington would, and she did.

When asked about the HuffPost’s accuracy standards Thursday, she outlined her 24-hour correct-it-or-lose-your-rights deadline. Then, without skipping a beat, she compared her one-day correction turn-around requirement to the NYT which “took years to issue a mea culpa” for the “lies and distortions” about the lead-up to the Iraq war that it printed on the front page.

Ouch. (Watch below.) Continue reading


It’s about time….

I’ve been promoting newspaper collaboration with bloggers (and vloggers, podcasters and readers in general) for more than a year now, but I never found (took) the time to write my own.

No more.

It was embarrassing.

In 2007, I launched the first metro daily newspaper (the recently shuttered BostonNOW) that included bloggers not only on the newspaper’s website but also in the pages of the paper.

But I didn’t have a blog.

I worked with the LA Times over the winter and identified hundreds of local neighborhood and LA-themed bloggers to populate their new local site when they re-launch it.

But I didn’t have my own blog. Bad boy!

So, here I am.

I’ll be looking at newspapers’ use of bloggers/vloggers/podcasters and community building. Who’s trying what? What’s working? What isn’t? Can anyone monetize it? What can we learn from everyone’s efforts?

I’ll be hunting around myself. But if you know of any cutting-edge newspaper blogger initiatives, let me know and we can take a look together and spread the word.

And if you just have ideas about what might work, let me know and perhaps we can convince a newspaper to give it a try!

Coming next: Reporting from the Interactive Media Conference this week (May 14-15) in Las Vegas. Continue reading