Times story on blogging misses productivity angle

Times article on blogging misses the economic factors that drive mainstream media to blog
Stephen Baker

Katharine Seelye writes in today's Times of the power of bloggers to respond to journalists, and the pressure for journalists to reveal more of their reporting. I think the story misses a key economic point.

We often do lots and lots of reporting for a single magazine story. Many of the people interviewed generously give their time and insights, and never see their name, company or words in the article. I would estimate that for a cover story, maybe one-sixth of the people we interview are represented in the article. If that. We justify this process, saying that these interviews inform our thinking. Readers get a synthesis of the reporting, but not all the details.

In any case, we gather far more than we use. At the same time, we're wrestling with worrisome trends in advertising; most of us are losing reporters. And we're looking to create new "platforms" for our brands, especially online.

So, if we need to create more and varied content with a smaller staff, it makes sense to squeeze more production out of our reporting. This means turning forgotten interviews into online Q&As, publishing notes on blogs, creating online stories on themes that didn't make it into the main piece.

It would be too costly to use our tried and true multi-tiered editorial process for this production. So some of it goes through a quicker process online. And yes, the most sensible approach for some of it is simply to blog it. Blogging is cheap, fast and efficient--precisely the qualities journalism is looking for. These are the economic factors, perhaps more than anything else, that continue to drive mainstream journalism toward blogging.

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