News sites have been wringing their hands about whether blogging is journalism and whether newspapers should let their reporters blog.
They’re missing the most important point about blogging. Suddenly, millions of their readers now have better-managed web sites that are better integrated with the Web than any online news Web site.
I’m not saying that the Tribune Company should rush out and buy WordPress for their newspapers. But the blogosphere has evolved into a sophisticated network that online publishers should emulate and build upon. I’ve been discussing the elements of this network in this series:
- RSS feeds put your headlines on readers’ desktops, especially the most influential 1% of Web users — the people who can drive traffic to your site. Don’t worry that you can’t control it or measure it. Trust people to find you.
- Comments let your reader participate directly in the reporting process, amplifying, correcting, and just blowing off steam. Letters to the editor and separate bulletin boards now seem absurd.
- Archives should no longer be in a separate database. Your Web site should be your archives, which should be free and open to anyone who wants to read or link to your news. Why shouldn’t readers be able to search your archives using Google? Think before you answer that question.
- Trackback points to people who point to you, creating context for every news story you publish, and giving back traffic to people who are pointing their readers to you.
- Your community should be the focus of your site. And you should be integrating your site with bloggers and other sites in your community.
Blogs have changed the way people use use the Web and the way they create Web sites. The online news industry has the most to learn and the most to gain from thinking like bloggers. Whether news sites blog, or whether they accept blogging as journalism is immaterial.