The Newspaper blog: salvation or suicide

Blogs will help kill newspapers.

Careful, that’s only if newspaperdotcoms continue to see blogs as competition.

Of course, anyone with interest in learning better knows blogging can be a tool to spread content further and wider than ever before.

Let me tell you how I believe newspaper blogs can help save newspapers.

I don’t believe blogging is the end all of media or newspapers. But I do believe blogging is a powerful form of dissemination, a new tool in an age of new tools, so those newspapers that best incorporate it may be most likely to survive this great newspaper bubble consolidation.

It’s a simple, but important distinction for newspapers and all journalists to understand: blogs are for content dissemination not creation.

They are part of the link economy and if newspapers learn to integrate in, rather than fight or misuse, the the online world, they can survive, albeit differently.

So, here is how the newspaper blog works.

First, get them off your newspaperdotcom. Make them their own brand. Don’t dilute your content creation, make them fresh deliveries for niche communities. If you have a big urban daily, blogging is the easiest way right now to build a bridge to smaller communities, which, according to the Long Tail theory, is surely our future.

Give me a simple URL and RSS feed to your blog on state government or gardening or wine. Have them offer their own content, but also encourage them to get involved in the broader conversation on state government or gardening or wine, through linking.

There is no reason your newspaper in Toledo can’t have the best blog on cheap grocery shopping. Imagine getting clicks far and beyond your circulation or even regional reach. The future of the Internet provides the seemingly disparate opportunities to approach smaller, narrower communities and bring in more readers.

Unleash your writers. Let them write. Encourage them to have a voice. Encourage them to post quickly, succinctly and regularly.

Where old heads in the reporting community hate the Internet-news phenomenon of speed is they say it’s inaccurate.

Don’t misunderstand. The tenet of the future of online news is a conversation not a lecture. Print newspapers had to be 100 percent right before running it the next day. Of course, that mentality has to remain, but reporting ethically and transparently with what information you have as quickly as you can and being prepared to update and correct isn’t misinforming, it’s letting your readers take part in the conversation.

This is where user generated content comes in. Online polls are the lazy way from 2001, though they surely have some role from time to time, but the point is to encourage participation.

Now, show all the active readers you have on very specific topics (does your Toledo-based blog on cheap grocery shopping attract middle-class, middle-aged mothers?) and sell advertisements on your blog, archives, feeds and mobile version.

Link out and take links in, see your reader-count grow and watch them read your content in places newspapers never went.

That’s how blogging can be salvation, my friends.

Images from OntheMarketWritng and WholeEnchilada respectively.