The death of newspaper blogs is greatly exaggerated. Again.
If, as some people suggest, the newspaper “blog” is dead, nobody seems to have told us on this side of the Atlantic…
A New Republic piece by Marc Tracey declaring the death of blogs on newspaper websites is doing the rounds, suggesting that the apparent closure of some blogs by the New York Times and Andrew Sullivan’s decision to strike out on his own signal the end of an era for the format:
“We will still have blogs, of course, if only because the word is flexible enough to encompass a very wide range of publishing platforms: Basically, anything that contains a scrollable stream of posts is a “blog”. What we are losing is the personal blog and the themed blog. Less and less do readers have the patience for a certain writer or even certain subject matter. Instead, they use social media to efficiently pick exactly what they do and do not click on, rather than reading what a blogger or blog offers them. ”
If that is the case in the US, it certainly doesn’t seem to be a trend in the UK. Political blogs like Andrew Sparrow on the Guardian and Paul Waugh’s Waugh Room are going strong, as are the Guardian’s range of topic specific blogs, like the Doctor Who Series blog which generates hundreds of comments each week. The Mail Online’s blog pages may be looking a little worn around the edges — they are still promoing a blog counting down to the London Olympics — but Peter Hitchens amongst others is still hammering the blog posts out. The Times has some active blogs aimed at subscribers, including Ruth Gledhill. The Telegraph’s roster of regular bloggers includes entertaining contributions by the likes of Dan Hodges and Tom Chivers. Damian Thompson, head of the paper’s blogs, is bullish about their success, and told me:
“Either the New Republic’s analysis is wrong or Telegraph Blogs is miraculously defying media trends, because our traffic continues to grow and the page views for our most popular bloggers are beyond anything we could have imagined even two years ago. Significantly, some of our top-ranking pages are the home pages of particular writers, showing that their blogs (as opposed to individual posts) are hugely attractive points of destination for hundreds of thousands of readers. I’ve edited Telegraph Blogs for five years and never have I felt so excited and optimistic.”
Interesting to note, with regard to the New York Times, the Mark Thompson presided over an explosion and then cull of blogs at the BBC, although reading between the lines of the statement about Media Decoder issued by Media editor Bruce Headlam, it sounds like technology considerations are as much at play as editorial ones. He says:
“I really don’t know the eventual fate for other blogs at the Times but I know my writers and editors liked the pace and the feel of the blog and that’s not going to change just because we’ve moved away from WordPress.”
Of course, one day, trying to get page views by saying “x is dead” will be dead, but until then, expect blogging to be declared in a terminal state a few more times yet.
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