Not drinking the Kool-Aid

Just beneath the surface of convergence and newsroom transformation, lies a darker, more cynical view of changes within newsrooms.
And, unfortunately, that darkness could drag newspapers efforts to adapt into the abyss.
Consider this from a recent survey of sportswriters about blogging. One longtime sportswriter said:

It’s the worst kind of insidious, stupid-creep to have ever infected our profession. Blogging blurs the lines between journalism and pajama-wearing nitwits sitting in their mother’s basements firing off bile-filled opinions. Newspaper editors and managers sit around at meetings and wonder why their circulation is falling and they have themselves to blame for lowering all of us into the foul-smelling muck of the blogworld.

The above was described as the strongest responses of the 150 respondents to a University of Mississippi survey on sports blogging, but it may reflect the view of many. The survey results as well as an analysis were sent to participants last week.
Fifty-three percent said blogging was a top down initiative, but most were involved in blogging in some way.
Sixty-four percent either disagreed or strongly disagreed that blogging increases audience.
Forty-two percent said blogging is not making an important contribution to their media outlet’s sports coverage.
Sixty-five percent see no chance of blogging replacing traditional coverage.
The survey’s summary said:

This negative attitude was fairly consistent, both in terms of qualitative and quantitative response, which suggests that respondents were actively resisting any possible changes associated with blogging.

One of the conclusions in the survey analysis was:

Perhaps even more importantly, most journalists did not perceive a value in blogging, in terms of increasing audiences, contributing to their media outlet or in their own professional development. It might be more correct to say that even when journalists saw value in blogging, they believed that value was offset by additional problems.

We just think we’ve come a long way.
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  1. It’s been almost a year since the Roanoke Times/ launched its sports blog, and it quickly became one of the more popular blogs. We use it to post breaking sports news, during the game coverage and post-game updates. Our sports crew has embraced it for the most part, I think because it’s easy and it gives them a way to write even more.
    Another key is reporting the traffic. We’ve done that here and shown that there’s an audience for it.

  2. John:
    That’s excellent. Certainly knowing you’re being read goes a long way toward making writing/blogging worthwhile.
    The University of Mississippi survey drew some conclusions that the resistance is often based on age. Have any of that been noticed at your paper.
    We run a game day blog by a freelancer writer who is not at the game that basically allows users to engage in a conversation. It typically will be in our Top 10 “stories” on a game day Saturday.
    And that brings up another question. At college games, has blogging from the press box been an issue. A couple years ago Florida threatened to bar all of Jacksonville’s sportswriter if one of them blogged and provide real time game coverage. Has that been an issue at Roanoke covering ACC games?
    Great online paper, BTW.

  3. Jack,
    To your questions, I haven’t noticed an age issue with resistance. Some have been reluctant to use the blog for news, preferring instead to post the “traditional” way (that is, sending it to the online group). But having numbers to show the interest has helped get around that. Still, there are those who don’t post at all, but I wonder if it’s more that they don’t think of it instead of making a conscious choice.
    We provide some game-time info as well, but it’s usually an at-the-half update, or if something really big happens during the game. No one’s yelled so far.
    Thanks for the props.

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