Over at the Blue Plate Special, which still has that “new blog” smell, Jay Rosen and some of his students are breaking down the details on newspapers that blog.
Here’s a great post on John Robinson, editor of the blog-happy Greensboro News & Record in North Carolina.
Briana Mowrey, a grad student in NYU’s j-school, writes:
He says he created The Editor’s Log primarily to talk to the public. But Robinson is the first to admit that sometimes they—the public—are the very reason that more editors aren’t blogging. There are a lot of people out there “eager to bring you down,” he says. Of course in any town with a monopoly newspaper the newspaper editor is not just a public figure, but a person with power, an authority figure. And so when the person with power starts a weblog, there’s a chance to topple an icon, or at least chip away.
The boss also gets extra scrutiny from readers. “There is an assumption that what you’re saying is ‘corporate speak’,” he says. “People really do dissect everything I say and then apply it to the newspaper.”
That’s really what I’m looking for in an “editor blog,” and that’s why I found what the Santa Cruz Sentinel is doing to be so odd.
Sentinel Editor and blogger Tom Honig responded in the comments to my post:
Since I’m the main opinion writer of the newspaper, I figure it wouldn’t be honest to refrain from opinion. I’m actually hoping that I get enough responses to try to get opposing views in the actual paper. I also hope to get stuff in that doesn’t make it into the paper — behind the scenes stuff like who gets mad at me and who says something funny. Unfortunately, much of what I do has to do with personnel here at the paper, and believe me, there’s nothing interesting about that.
Tom, you’re right, you should be voicing your opinion on your blog, and you’re free to treat it like a column, but what’s the value of that for your readers? I think trying to push blog readers to stories in the print and online editions by teasing them is good, too, but your best stuff comes out in posts like this and this, where you write about issues that you are most familiar with as the editor of the paper.
I really don’t need to read what you think of the population of Santa Cruz (in number or politics), for that, I’ll check out your column. And if I want to read about what the San Francisco city council is doing… wait a minute, I live in Santa Cruz. If I want to know what SF is up to, I’ll pick up the Chronicle.
Here’s Blue Plate Special’s list of a few other editor blogs. (Note to Prof. Rosen: How about a longer list?)