What's good for bloggers is good for publishers
We have come a long way since the blogophobic days of Brian Williams mocking bloggers as being "people who have an opinion, a modem, and a bathrobe." As recently as seven years ago it was not inconceivable that a newspaper might eschew the blogs of its own reporters.
The pendulum swings. Nowadays the NBC anchor himself is a prolific blogger on subjects as varied as "Mad Men" and the stories that Brian's working on for the NBC Nightly News broadcast. So it comes as no surprise that Forbes this week declared that every reporter must now have their own blog. "Moving forward," Lewis D'Vorkin, who leads all editorial at the Capitalist Tool, told The Observer at the time of his installment, "when I look at an operation like Forbes, I look at a mixture of a full-time staff base and hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands, of freelance contributors. It's that blend." Now imagine each of those contributors blogging, perhaps getting retweeted and gaining link love on other social networks. That increases the number of Forbes uniques considerably. If your staff writers aren't blogging yet they probably should be.
Journos and publishers both benefit. It is in the self-interest of journalists to promote their stories as well as their by-lines in this digital age. New York Times TV & digital media reporter Brian Stelter -- who has over 22,000 Twitter followers -- does an exemplary job promoting his stories and his by-line through his personal blog, Tumblr, Facebook, &c. The self-interest of journos and publishers coincide in the shared desire for maximum page views; what is good for Brian Stelter, blogger, is good for The New York Times, media organization. Ana Marie Cox, who made her name as Wonkette.com's inaugural blog editor, is now a contributor at Conde Nast's GQ, bringing with her her own considerable audience of nearly one and a half million Twitter followers.
Some publications have already lost interest in blogs like Tumblr, while others are more successful in tone and their level of engagement. The Atlantic's Tumblr has been blank since June 28th; the fashion-forward Paper magazine's Tumblr -- which makes the most of Tumblr's vastly customizable, photo-friendly format -- alas has been blank since May 20th. Newsweek, however, gets 10 times the amount of engagement from its Tumblr followers as its Tweeters (though 100 times the number of followers on Twitter). The New Yorker's Tumblr mixes tidbits from the magazine's website along with upcoming chat links in a sophisticated, yet informal manner that works. The counterculture Village Voice, even more informally, also manages to pull off a credible Tumblr blog.
Last year Mashable's Vadim Lavrusik predicted “to be a social journalist and one that engages in online communities, journalists will have to practice blogging regularly and serve as curators of other content on the web ... Journalists of tomorrow will be participating in the link economy by gathering, synthesizing and making sense of other content across the web.” This new collaborative interactivity between writer and audience -- through comments sections, social networking, email -- makes for more accurate journalism and a better feel for the stories that move the audience. And that, ultimately, is good for the publisher.