A few weeks back, I posted what I called a mini-rant after watching Sky business editor Michael Wilson on air and then was directed to go to the Sky News site to respond on their blog. It took me a while on their old-look site to actually find the blog, but I wasn’t impressed at what I found.
I have to give the Sky News website team some points in responding to my rant. Julian March sets out their blogging goals on their Editor’s blog. And business producer Peter Hoskins left a comment and calls me out for having the sound turned down on that day. I will admit that, although I’ve heard them promoting their blogs on air several times since then and haven’t really felt compelled to look at their blogs because I don’t think they are doing a good job of framing a debate that really encourages me to take part. Mostly it still feels like traditional on-air promotion of their website. I think they could do a better job of setting up a conversation, a way that makes people want to join in. It’s still too much of a traditional news piece with “What do you think?” tossed on at the end.
I’ve responded to both Julian and Peter, on their blogs and here on Strange. It did hit a nerve that day, but again, I do give them credit in responding. It definitely walks the talk of transparency.
It made me think though about what is the difference between a blog post and a traditional article with comments. As comments become more common as a general feature on news sites, I hear some say that blogs on news sites will disappear. I think that blogs will evolve, and I believe that as ways for people to participate and contribute online proliferates comments will become a lowest common denominator as far as community features. But I don’t believe that blogs, in the context of news sites, are simply articles with a comment box and will therefore disappear as comment functionality becomes universal. I think there is a different editorial approach to blogging than writing news articles. As I put it to Sewell Chan of the New York Times over lunch, a news article is meant to tie up as many threads on the subject as possible, whereas a good blog posts weaves the threads of a good conversation together but leaves a few loose as an invitation to comment.
In a sidenote, Sewell is working on a new project called City Room. Intriguing. New York magazine has an internal memo about the project with a little snark about Sewell. I wish him luck.