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January 16, 2006

Blogging our stories would change this blog--for better or for worse?

Stephen Baker

Jeff Jarvis writes that I should have gone ahead and blogged the math cover story for months. He thinks our focus on secrets and scoops is out of date, and he points to all the knowledge and buzz we would gain from opening up the process. (The comment trail on that post, by the way, makes for good reading.)

What Jeff didn't mention is how such a policy would change this blog. For six months a good part of my half of this blog would have veered off from its declared turf of business, blogs and media, and into the land of applied math.

I don't say this is a bad thing. Presumably, it would have attracted more applied mathematicians and computer scientists into the discussion. The blog would have grown more mathematical. (Of course, the whole point of the math story was that math's terrain is spreading. So the participation of such experts in a blog about business and media would enrich it...) The point is, the blog would meander, evolving with our interests, the way other blogs do.

This brings us to yet another point of tension in so-called mainstream blogs. We have bosses, we have beats. Most independent blogs are free to wander and evolve. Ours, by contrast, walks a straighter line. In doing so, we march ahead, passing up lots of interesting detours and byways.

Should it be that way? Tell me, would you have been interested to read blog posts about my journey, from absolute to relative ignorance, in the world of math? Or would you rather that Heather and I stick closely to the collision of blogs, business and media?

09:06 AM

BusinessWeek, mainstream media

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Blog what you feel comfortable, for the sake of sharing.

Posted by: seesunshine at January 16, 2006 11:07 AM

I think the latter. This is a focused blog about a specific topic. Whether you are msm or not most blogs have a focus.

Namaste

CH

Posted by: City Hippy at January 16, 2006 11:18 AM

I think you should stick to the original intent here.

But, what could be kind of interesting is if you set up a separate private/internal blog for a major story that you personally post to, keeping it private until the story runs. Then open it up as your journey through the story and allowing people to comment.

You could probably set it up so you could invite relevant experts to join in the private blog (password protected) before opening it to the public.

Posted by: PXLated at January 16, 2006 12:07 PM

PXLated is right -- a separate blog is the way to go. And the concept of a private blog that becomes public is intriguing.

Perhaps BusinessWeek could set up a separate section of the website that features reporter's blogs for work in progress. Keeping them private at first would give BW a reasonable "comfort zone" while the discussion was kick started by hand-picked experts.

Of course, the blogosphere might judge that approach harshly as "elitist" or too "Old Media" and decline to join the public conversation.

In any case, it's a huge opportunity for BusinessWeek to find a way to make it work -- especially when they are fortunate enough to have journalists/bloggers like Steve who have such a keen understanding of both New Media and Old Media.

Posted by: Scott Karp at January 16, 2006 06:12 PM

I think one can dissect and over-analyze a topic too much. Yes, it is fascinating to get insight into how a story is crafted and how it develops. However, that is best saved for after the story is published. That way, we can see the end result, and then hear your commentary (kind of like the bonus footage on a DVD movie).

Yes, blogging about a story as it's in progress could start "a buzz" about it. And, in some BW stories, it'd be something to try.

But, merging the two -- journalistic writing with blogging -- would do neither one a service.

Just my $0.02.

Take care,

Mike

Posted by: Mike Driehorst at January 16, 2006 09:16 PM

I thought your contrast between the straigher paths and the meandering ones was well chosen. Passing up things that don't fit is part of editing, and essential.

For my part, a good newsified blog is defined by its constraints. These create the personality of the page as much as the freedom to invent does.

An excellent example is Regret the Error.

http://www.regrettheerror.com/

Stephen: I don't have strong opinions on what Jeff said vs. what you did. But I do wonder: what does a user-assisted cover story look like?

Posted by: Jay Rosen at January 17, 2006 12:23 AM

"He thinks our focus on secrets and scoops is out of date"

Unless, of course, he has a scoop. The only thing that's out of date in the online world is deadlines.

Heather knows that as I promised you guys a great story ten days ago.

And, fortunately for me, fact-checking and sources not blabbing aren't out of date.

I don't know why the rules of gravity need to be repealed for anyone publishing online.

Posted by: Jon Garfunkel at January 17, 2006 03:58 AM


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