Thursday, December 06, 2007

Blogger Appreciation: The Corporate Blogs

It took a while, but the Pitch and the Star have finally developed good blogs. I've had fun criticizing the Star's blog in its past incarnations, but it's only fair to acknowledge that both of our major newspapers are running pretty decent blogs.

There's more of a tension in running a blog for a newspaper than you might think. It's not just a matter of opening a comments section on your newspaper's web page. Should different editorial standards apply? Should reporters have the opportunity to state their opinions more clearly on a blog, outside of "straight reporting"?

Most importantly, how does the money work? Both the Pitch and the Star are newspapers owned by corporations that exist to deliver money to shareholders. Everything they do needs to be understood in the context of making money. How can they participate in a medium that is dominated by volunteers?

The Prime Buzz has become a gathering place for Kansas City's politicos and wannabes. It regularly features tomorrow's editorials today, and a lot of little stories that don't make it into ink. One thing I appreciate is their daily round-up of what political bloggers are posting about - it's a generous tip of the hat to the rest of the bloggers, and establishes the Prime Buzz as a collaborator instead of a competitor.

I don't know how the money works for the Prime Buzz. There isn't any advertising going on at the site. For a while, they tried charging a huge amount of money for a password to the site. The results were utterly predictable, and I have no idea what they were thinking. They should have paid me a fat consulting fee and I could have saved them a lot of time and embarrassment.

Perhaps they justify the time and expense as a way to stay relevant. It certainly does accomplish that goal. The Prime Buzz IS the talk of the political blogging world, and everyone interested in politics keeps a close eye on it. The blogging world does best when it has a sense of community - one or several sites that everyone follows. The Kansas City blogging world had that for a while in the form of a volunteer blogger, but has lacked one since that site diminished in traffic, commentary and creativity. The Prime Buzz is now providing that service for the political world.

The Pitch's Plog is more brash, more fun, and less focused than the Prime Buzz. It doesn't deliver nearly as many posts as the Prime Buzz, and it hasn't developed a fraction of the number of commenters. But it includes a bunch of posts that don't make it into print, and gave me yesterday's great news about Chefburger.

The Plog does have advertising, and a fairly "noisy" layout because of the advertising, but I think it will develop into a more promin ent voice in the blogging world if it continues to deliver the quirky and telling anecdotes the Pitch staff uncovers on their way to the feature stories for the paper.

My only suggestion would be that it could generate more traffic for itself and others if it mentioned some of the other local blogs in its content. Yesterday, Tony's KC included a claim that the Plog had "cannibalized" one of his posts because they both happened to mention that the Star had published "happy talk" about the Sprint Center. While I understand why the Pitch would be miffed at the silly accusation (criticizing the Star and the Sprint Center is not exactly breaking new ground), they probably ought to have gone ahead and responded, to give him some of the attention he was seeking. While some might hesitate to reward bad behavior, Tony could tell you that blogger beefs are good for traffic.



Blogger Tony said...

Blogger beef: It's what's for dinner and damn if it hasn't been awhile since a good "fight" has occurred among the KC crowd. It's practically a rite of passage in other cities.

12/06/2007 10:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eh, I get the feeling that corporate blogs have a lot more rules about their responses to the public than the average blogger does. I just don't like the fact that most corporate blogs make their readers sign in before leaving comments.

12/06/2007 12:16 PM  
Anonymous travelingal said...

I like Prime Buzz. It breaks news early and even reports of things in interest in Kansas. KC is bluer than blue and most bloggers could care less what goes on in Kansas, even the Kansas side of Kansas City. If there ever is anything, it's almost always disparaging Johnson County. Prime Buzz is liberal like the rest of the city but at least they make an attempt to present both sides of a story they may write about Kansas.

12/06/2007 2:01 PM  
Blogger Heidi said...

I also like Prime Buzz, esp now that I don't have to make up a new Yahoo email address every couple of weeks or so. I read it every day, but I shudder when I brave the main Star site because it's such a cluttered disaster (and doesn't have to be).

12/06/2007 10:25 PM  

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