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Challenges for mainstream blogging


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May 15, 2005

Challenges for mainstream blogging

Stephen Baker

We have six blogs and counting at BusinessWeek now. But I don't think the movement will really transform our business until we start using blogs and wikis for internal communications and collaborative reporting. Once we get used to those tools inside the firewall, I predict we'll reach out, energetically. From what I'm hearing, we and lots of other companies will be using those tools very shortly. Many are already leading the way.

Another challenge we mainstreamers face: We're expected to find time to blog while we do our magazine work. This means that we are likely to step out of the blogworld as we report stories. (This happened to me Tuesday as I edited one.) If we're going to grow strong within this medium, we'll have to free up more resources.

12:36 PM

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Tracked on May 15, 2005 07:52 PM

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Tracked on May 16, 2005 11:58 AM

"If we're going to grow strong within this medium, we'll have to free up more resources."

And I'm sure management won't insist that you become more productive at your non-blogging tasks.

Will blogging be considering a "premium" activity or something comparable to slacking off? Will BW pay you a bonus for more blogging? Will bloggers be promoted more readily? Can someone be fired or demoted for not being a "good blogger"?

Does BW have a "game plan" to prevent blogging from becoming a vast black-hole/sinkhole for resources?

Or, maybe, blogging actually is a tool that refreshes your head. Do you feel drained from blogging, or reinvigorated and psyched to more quickly tackle your next task?

-- Jack Krupansky

Posted by: Jack Krupansky at May 15, 2005 06:20 PM

Jack asks very good questions. Will blogging be considered slacking off at BW? I don't think anyone knows at this point. In pitching the concept of starting the blogspotting blog, I argued that blogging would get us into a vital area, where we would pick up all sorts of ideas, which would later enhance our product, in the magazine and online. I still think this is true, but I don't know how it will be evaluated by the top editors.

One good example is international. Our bureaus in Europe, Asia and Latin America make us a much smarter magazine. But is that value recognized and appreciated by execs who analyse the profitability of the European and Asian editions? I think so. But I'm sure there's debate about it. I think blogs could fall into the same category, enhancing us, but without providing a clear financial payback. We'll have to see how it plays out.

I will say that when I'm busy with a magazine article on deadline I have trouble concentrating on the blog. Maybe that will become easier with practice.

Posted by: steve baker at May 15, 2005 09:31 PM

Steve, Heather,

You are off to a good start. I admire your ability to get your organization to support your blogging. I think you will find a growing tension between your desire to blog and to do routine reporting.

After almost two years of intensive blogging, I know you will learn more by blogging than you ever could by reading and analyzing blogs.

Blogging is citizen publishing, with all of the unexpected effects that you could expect from a non-zero-sum publishing capability. No limit to genres, to content, to persistence... :)

As long as you write with passion and conviction, your audience will continue to grow. I think you will find that content, not established names, will guide your exploration of the blogosphere.

I agree that registration will help you to keep your comments free from unnecessary distractions.

I am adding you to my growing list of new blogs to read. Please continue blogging.

Posted by: David St Lawrence at May 16, 2005 03:06 AM

Steve, getting more internal users is definitely the correct approach. At first, there will be resistance as people may think of blogging as non-value added. However, if you use the tools as a productivity enhancement, people will likely find they have more time.

A couple of examples of enhancing productivity - I have zero publishing experience, but can visualize internal uses for blogs. Assuming that editing a story requires the "handoff" from the writer to the editor, I would infer it is either physically handed off or is sent electronically via email. Depending upon the editor workload, these articles either queue up in the email in basket or the actual desk in basket. In either location, it's easy for an article to be overlooked, fogotten, lost.

In a blog environment, the author comes to the internal editing site for, say, the entertainment section of Newsweek and "drops" off the article for edit review. This is potential benefit #1 - each Newsweek section has a centralized document edit site. Everyone knows where to place docs for editing and these docs are perpetually electronically archived in that location. Depending upon how the blog site was set up, once the article is deposited, the editor is notified of an article for review via email, pager, SMS phone text, Blackberry, etc. That is potentially benefit #2, the editor now always knows that an article is ready for review. No more searching through email or looking through piles of papers on a desk - the editor simply goes to the edit blog site and pulls up the file for review.

To perform changes, the editor can either indicate changes via the comment section, annotate changes on the document file (make sure edit history feature is on!) or, create a voice podcast of required changes attached to the post. Maintaining the changes in a centralized location helps to ensure that nothing gets lost in the return handoff. Again, with the notification feature, the author knows the doc is now edited and prepared for further processing.

In a blog-centric enterprise, this would simply mean the reviewed/edited article is moved to the next blog site - publication. And, via RSS, the keepers of the printers will know a new article is ready to hit the presses.

Likely, Newsweek already has a very sophisticated document review/publication process. However, the above scenario is intended to illustrate the collaborative features of an internal blog. It can eliminate email reliance, reduce document hand offs, optimize workflow due to centralization, keep everyone informed via RSS/notification and maintain an archived history of the document flow. With all of these benefits, the net effect is a streamlining of processes and the elimination of non-value added effort. This, in turn, will free up people to use blogs as a value added process within the organization.

Sorry for the long post, but hopefully, this gives some view of how internal blogs could benefit your enterprise. By the way, the above will be included in the 101 uses for blogs. Thanks for the inspiration. So many uses for blogs, so little time.....cheers!

Posted by: jbr at May 16, 2005 09:45 AM

Steve, Heather

Your blog is already included in the blogs I check each morning.

Good blogging is demanding work...but there are unique rewards. I find that people in the blogosphere are very generous in sharing information. This week I asked visitors to my blog (www.TheDeevyReport.blogspot.com) if they would share information on internal blogging. I've already had several emails. Blogs can provide instant access to valuable information.

I do hope the editors will appreciate the contribution you all are making!

Ed Deevy.

Posted by: Edward Deevy at May 16, 2005 09:50 AM

Why is blogging seen as an end to itself? Why not bring interactivity into all the BW online content? That's been my advice.

Posted by: Jon Garfunkel at May 17, 2005 01:12 AM

Jon, we're not looking at blogging as an end in itself. What we're doing with this podcasting story is an experiment in bringing blogging into the magazine (online and paper versions). While I don't think we'll be calling for contributions for all stories (and letting our competitors know exactly what we're up to), I'm betting we'll see more and more integration as the months go by. And yes, even when if it's not through blogs, interactivity will be a key for most of our editorial products and processes.

Posted by: steve baker at May 17, 2005 06:51 AM


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