Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, March 06, 2021

Lots of media outlets, including newspapers, have drunk the blogging Kool-Aid. How is this confluence of old and new media going? New York University’s School of Journalism rates the best of the best in newsroom blogs.

I should give props to the St. Petersburg Times blog menagerie, coming out of my late work/play stomping grounds.

It’s a fairly subjective list, based upon what the NYU judges think a blog should look and feel like. It’s also limited to the 100 largest U.S. dailies (measured by circulation); that’s a reasonable subset, but obviously excludes smaller papers that would seem to be fertile territory for innovative blogging. Still, it’s a reasoned look at why papers should host reporter and reader blogs, and how they should be clearly differentiated from articles and columns.

One thing I didn’t see as a prime use of reporter blogs: Their utility as repositories for extra notes and sidebars that couldn’t/wouldn’t fit into a regular-section article. I find this to be a great tool for letting readers dig deeper into a story, affording a behind-the-scenes look into both the story and the newsgathering process. It’s like the extras you find on a movie DVD: It’s not necessary reading, but perfect for hooking the news junkies. Eric Deggans, the St. Pete Times Media Critic, routinely does this with this blog, most recently to supplement his story about the New Orleans Times-Picayune’s post-Katrina endeavours.

If a newspaper blog did nothing else but this, I’d be satisfied. The notion of remaindered content from the reporter, that didn’t make the newsprint cut but still saw life in digital form, is very appealing to me as the attainment of a more complete newspaper presentation. So I guess my list of the best newspaper blogs would weigh heavily toward this use of the form.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/06/2021 11:25:17 PM
Category: Bloggin', Publishing | Permalink | Feedback

face time
To coincide with this week’s season premiere of “America’s Next Top Model”, the West Coast branch of the Writers Guild of America is releasing “Top Model for Sale”, a parody video short expounding upon what the Guild considers to be egregious product placement on that particular reality hit.

I particularly like the Nike Swoosh temp tattoo on the forehead of the Tyra Banks character. They should have gotten someone hotter to play Tyra, though.

Here’s the iPod-friendly M4V file. I’m sure MPEG and WMV formats will crop up soon enough (although, as of this writing, I don’t see it on usual suspect YouTube.)

This clip is part of Product Invasion, a broader effort by the WGA to protest rampant advertising content insertion into shows:

“We’re trying to get the attention of our employers, the companies that own and operate show business,” said Patric M. Verrone, president of the Writers Guild, West, referring to entertainment conglomerates like Walt Disney, Time Warner and Viacom. “But they’re managed so far to avoid us.”

“We’re trying to make a mark by calling attention to some of the companies doing this branded entertainment by counterbranding their products,” Mr. Verrone said. Procter was chosen to be parodied, he added, because it is “America’s top integrator” of products into programming.

Left unsaid: Reality shows, being lightly scripted by nature, are perceived as a threat to writers who rely upon traditional scripted television series for their livelihood. So there’s certainly a cynical edge here in the WGA’s motives. But in that sense, it’s genius to frame their campaign this way — no one’s a particular fan of creeping advertising.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/06/2021 10:14:54 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Reality Check, Comedy | Permalink | Feedback

go boom
BlogExplosion, probably the biggest traffic-generating referral ring out there, is up for sale.

The timing is curious. BE just jumped on the blog-community bandwagon last month with BlogCharm. That move, along with all the other affiliate-building doo-dads the service runs, was a clear sign that they were trying to build up something along the lines of MySpace, or even Flickr, that would be appealing to a corporate buyer. It’s a formula that’s paid off decently: Attract a lot of registered users, sell a lot of advertising on the user-created space, then monetize through an acquisition sale.

But why not wait until BlogCharm actually gains some critical mass? Right now, it’s got fewer than 1,500 users signed up. Even given its brief existence, that’s peanuts. I can only guess that BlogCharm didn’t catch fire the way BE assumed it would, and rather than put more work into this best shot at expanding the user base, are looking to cash out earlier than planned.

Don’t expect a cha-ching payday for BE, along the lines of yesterday’s NBC Universal acquisition of iVillage. In fact, based on the small operating numbers provided by the company (hovering at $4,500/month), even the most enthusiastic buyer would be crazy to offer more than high five-figures for it. Frankly, despite its optimistic labeling as a community site, it’s more of a traffic ring — and in its present structure, that doesn’t make it a viable advertising vehicle. And that’s where the money comes from. Right now, even the “Battle of the Blogs” and other hooks don’t provide that. New ownership can certainly redesign that, but there’s always the risk of alienating the existing user base.

My use of BlogExplosion kind of typifies this. It helped me get some exposure when I first set up this blog. I even log into it now, often as a substitute for running through my blogroll. But for me, it begins and ends at the “surf member blogs” link. I have no interest in the “Rent My Blog” or other gimmicks. I don’t even bother with the banner advertising deal anymore — I found that it resulted in practically zero clickthrus (although I do have a couple of nice banners I created to thank for it, should I ever find another use for them). For me, it’s useful for the occasional something-to-do online goof, but beyond that, I don’t feel at all committed to the service. It’s nice to have, but that’s it.

We’ll see where the sales process goes. I’m not expecting any surprises.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/06/2021 11:45:00 AM
Category: Bloggin', Business | Permalink | Feedback