Monthly Archives: February 2007

3 types of blog: closed, conduit and participant in the conversation

An interesting model from Robin Hamman on different types of blog.

  • The ‘closed’ blog is your typical family/holiday/baby blog, aimed at a close circle of people;
  • the ‘conduit’ blog is the type of blog that people create when they really need a website – a repository of information for a limited audience;
  • The ‘participant’ blog is more complex. These “are connectors of ideas and people, but also of conversations that flow between them. Blogs of this sort have an audience potentially as big as the numbers actively engaged in the conversation.” I’m guessing that this blog is one of those

A commenter wants to add diary blogs – though these may fit in ‘closed’ or ‘participant’. I’d like to add the organisational news blog, though I suspect this would fit under ‘conduit’.

A nice model, though.

‘Letters to the Editor Blogs’

Poynter has a nice list of ‘Letters to the Editor Blogs’:

“Examples include the Decatur (IL) Herald-Review, the Tacoma (WA) News Tribune, The Australian, and The Economist. In my own town, the Boulder (CO) Daily Camera letter blog recently garnered well-deserved praise from BusinessWeek blogger Stephen Baker.”

Author Stephen Baker also suggests some features he’d like to see, including a simple domain, cross-links, allowing HTML and even recording voice messages for mp3 distribution online.

Pay if you want a voice

That seems to be the subtext of Pearson chief executive Dame Marjorie Scardino’s statement,  as the Guardian reports that FT.com is likely to continue to rely on subscription revenues:

“As debate online has become more diffuse – hundreds of thousands or millions of voices on each topic – it has become less helpful in a way,” she said. “The trend now online seems to be some sort of mediation and we think we might have a role there.”

[…] “she said that the 90,000 subscribers to FT.com represent a “rarified audience” including senior figures in business and politics across the world and “We have found that to some extent with the quality of audience we have got we can provoke the discussion”.”

And to think some people used to dream that the internet would give a voice to those without power…

When should the online journalist use audio?

Here’s a question: what makes good online audio? Having already seen journalists struggle with online video and predictably try to duplicate the qualities of broadcast television, what should we take from broadcast radio – and what leave behind?

I have some suggestions.

Firstly, the audio should be short. Online users don’t have time to scan through a five minute speech. If the subject matter is long, then it should be ‘chunked’ into separate subject-specific pieces of audio.

Secondly, the audio should offer colour. This can come in two forms: a compelling voice; or atmosphere.

Say, for example, you interview someone who fought in World War II – quotes alone may not convey the fear in his voice as he recounts his experiences – or the joy.

Or say you attend a boxing match where the crowd got out of hand. The sounds of booing, the announcement on the PA, the confusion and argument could all make a compelling piece of audio that again, words wouldn’t describe as effectively.

Or, how about a mix of the two? A politician makes a speech and is heckled, for instance.

Now, that’s all I can think of: brevity, and compelling content. Are there any other reasons for using audio? I suppose if you have copyright covered you can use music to set a mood under a story, but that seems a lot of effort to make. Radio can keep its presenters, and the four-minute package that presents a range of viewpoints is just as effectively done with words.

But this seems too simple…

Comments please.

PODCASTS: Podcasts, it seems to me, represent a separate category here. These are useful as a distribution format for news generally, so if you’re producing podcasts you could be forgiven for simply reading out the headlines on the basis that people are likely to be listening to the podcast on an mp3 player as they travel when they’re not in a situation to read a paper or click through a website. Having said that, I think the same considerations as radio news apply – so, brevity again, and the importance of colour.

Online video: how it should be done

I’m still cranky from too much Lemsip Max, but grateful to Robert Freeman for pointing me to an example of how online video should be done.

On the award-winning Eastern Daily Press website the video for ‘Your chance to name leopard cubs‘ ticks every box for me:

  • Short (53 seconds)
  • Illustrates something that couldn’t be described as well in words alone (by most people)
  • No anchor – in fact, no commentary at all
  • It runs alongside, and complements, a text-based article, rather than replacing it.
  • Compelling content (i.e. cute animals – well, until they start snarling)

Interestingly, the lack of commentary initially confuses, but you quickly get used to this. In fact, it reminds me of the moving images on newspapers in Harry Potter films – perhaps we need to think of video in those terms, though not always.