Newspapers still need to learn how to use blogs

The Gazette today launched a Jazz Festival blog called “Offbeat” (better than “beatoff” I guess) written by saxophonist Adam Kinner and freelance writer Natasha Aimée Hall.

The blog reads like a diary, which got me thinking about mainstream media outlets and their use of these curious creatures they still don’t quite understand. Some blogs make sense, like The Gazette’s wildly successful and very high-quality Habs Inside/Out blog, which gives the paper’s experienced hockey writers a place where they can share late-breaking behind-the-scenes rumours and other news directly with a niche audience.

Others, however, read more like personal blogs which catalog the hourly events of its authors but doesn’t provide anything interesting to anyone outside the immediate family of the blogger.

It’s not the fault of the bloggers, most of whom (including Hall) are very talented writers. The problem is a lack of direction from the media outlets that create them. They give them this platform, tell them to “go and blog” and don’t give them much else to work with. The bloggers are left with nothing else to write about than their own personal stories, as mundane as they may be.

Blogs by beat writers is one thing. It’s pretty clear what the blog is going to be about. But for anything beyond that, the media have to answer the question “what information would I go to this blog to learn?”

If the answer is “what someone did for a couple of weeks”, then I think it needs some rethinking.

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