Lines blur between blogs, newspapers
A marriage made in cyberspace: As traditional media gets 'bloggier,' blogs begin to look more like their traditional forebears.
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Today, big blog sites such as The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, or Talking Points Memo – sites originally designed to be different from newspapers – “are basically evolving into newspapers,” Graff says.Skip to next paragraph
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They have bureaus, reporters, and editors.
“The term ‘blogging’ is going to become obsolete because what we once considered blogs are morphing into something broader,” adds Tom Rosenstiel, a veteran news-media analyst and journalist who now heads the Project for Excellence in Journalism in Washington.
On the other side of the equation, traditional reporters are blogging themselves, as well as posting observations on Twitter.com throughout the day, holding a two-way conversation with readers in which they not only dispense news but pick up information that enhances their reporting.
Other traditional journalists are jumping to new-media sites. Politico, a website covering US politics, was started in 2007 by two former Washington Post reporters. Now it has more White House correspondents than any print-based media outlet.
“It’s a really fascinating evolution that I think has happened much more quickly and with less hurrah than most people expected it to,” Graff says.
Maybe we should be talking about “big-time” media rather than “mainstream,” Sreenivasan suggests. A dwindling number of American news organizations have the financial muscle to report methodically on the big stories, he says, especially in remote (and expensive) regions such as Afghanistan, Iraq, or Iran.
Still, old-fashioned but online newspapers set much of the news agenda, these experts argue – at least for now. In contrast, most blogs act chiefly as news “amplifiers,” taking that information and redirecting it, getting more attention and broadening the discussion of the original report.
“That’s going to change as newspapers begin to shrink further and as alternative operations grow,” Mr. Rosenstiel says. “But day in, day out, much of what you see in other media started in newspapers.”
What’s developed is a “symbiotic relationship” between traditional news organizations and new media online “in which they are both helped,” Graff says.
“Both sides need each other,” Sreenivasan agrees.
The Drudge Report, for example, wins a huge online following by displaying headlines from traditional news sites. But Drudge, in turn, drives traffic back to the original publications, creating a “win” for both parties.
While newspapers are struggling financially, they’re also enjoying a boom in readership, the first upturn in 20 years, Rosenstiel says.
“The audiences for even struggling publications like the San Francisco Chronicle and The Boston Globe are larger than they’ve ever been,” he says. “The problem is that the Web isn’t generating revenue. So all those new readers and consumers aren’t bringing with them any financial benefit to the news operation.”
As traditional and new media may be morphing into one another, one aspect of news may be lost in the transition, Graff suggests: the bread-and-butter newspaper story. The Washingtonian’s website sports the short news snippets that people seek online, while the print magazine luxuriates in leisurely in-depth reads of 6,000 words or more.
“What I think you’re going to see die,” he says, “are the mid-length stories, from 500 words to 2,000 words, that are too long for people who aren’t interested in the subject, but too short for people who are.”