Blogonomics: When Newspapermen Blog

A lot of media companies love the idea that they can get their employees to start a blog. Unfortunately, they don’t like the idea that working on the blog means they might do less work elsewhere. The result can easily be infrequently-updated blogs which never quite achieve critical mass.

A separate problem with blogs hosted by newspapers and the like is that they tend to be treated more as obligation than as pleasure, which isn’t very bloggy. There’s something a little impersonal about a blog which only ever updates during office hours, being sure to take national holidays and weekends off, not to mention personal vacations.

Now the great thing about blogs is the sheer variety of them. Some are updated frequenly, others infrequently. In the age of RSS readers, both are fine – and I have a very infrequently updated blog myself. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a blog having eight entries in six weeks, which is what’s going to be the case by the time John Gapper gets back from his latest holiday. And there’s also nothing wrong with a blog having eight entries in six hours. The blogosphere would suffer greatly if all blogs behaved in much the same way.

But at the same time, the reason that media companies love the idea of having their employees blog is that they think they can get valuable traffic out of it. They’re not particularly interested in making the blogosphere as a whole slightly richer, at the margin: they want to improve the reputation, and increase the readership, of their own sites.

Which is one reason that newspapers often go the multiple-authors route (Alphaville, DealJournal, MarketBeat, etc.) But like many people, I prefer single-author blogs, and I think it’s great that the FT has quite a few of those. I just hope that the FT doesn’t abandon the exercise if and when it realizes those blogs aren’t getting much in the way of traffic.

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