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Recent Issues



  • Toli Galanis
  • Alexis Krase
  • Akshay Jain
  • Andre Henry
  • Emily McFarlan
  • Kaitlin Jessing-Butz
  • Kat Ocampo
  • Lauren Dzura
  • Patrick Akhidenor
  • Trisha Chang
  • Sami Osman
  • Sara Williams
  • Vanessa Fica
  • Will McLean
  • Renee Alfuso
  • Briana Mowrey
  • Apostolia Pentogenis
  • K. Paul Mallasch
  • Michael W. Andersen
  • Jay Rosen


Time is of the essence, especially in journalism. Timeliness is newsworthiness, and what’s new is what’s news.

Someone should tell Steve Spears.

Spears, the online news editor of the St. Petersburg Times, has, for the last year, been rehashing decades-old news with cohort Gina Vivenetto on the Times-sponsored blog, Stuck in the 80s.

Stuck in the 80s, which details what its bloggers were up to then and the celebrities of the time are up to now, is one of 20 blogs written by or associated with the newspaper, most of which are devoted to very specific, decidedly un-newsy topics, such as poker, pop music, and the college admissions process.

“We wanted to push for blogs that really offered unique or interesting coverage that a daily newspaper normally wouldn’t reserve space for, but which still has a potentially large and devoted audience,” Spears says.

That audience, in Spears’ estimation, includes young people, people outside the St. Petersburg Times’ readership in Central Florida, and “people who mainly get their news online and don’t want to read the same thing that’s in the paper.” To the latter, he says, “We have to offer something different.”

Something Different, Something New…

Newspapers are beginning to venture away from the tried-and-true printed in the column inches of their morning editions to different and detailed content online. Some offer a different take, others a different topic.

“[Blogging] is a great way for our writers to express more personality in their work,” says Spears.

Rhiannon Gammill, a.k.a. Miss Adventure, and globe-trotter Chris Garcia lend their personalities to the Austin American-Statesman, blogging about interesting, amusing, and entertaining - but otherwise not particularly newsworthy - events in the everyday. The Dayton Daily News also presents A Guy’s View alongside Chick Chat.

But most successful blogs, Spears points out, are “the ones where the writers really love writing about their subject matter.”

“We’re really fanatic about what we write about,” Spears says of himself and the St. Petersburg Times’ bloggers, “and I think that comes across.”

That infectious fandom and unique voice comes across in many newspaper blogs. Popular culture writer Leanne Potts of the Albuquerque Journal is Shock-ed by what passes for culture in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Meanwhile, several female writers at the Atlanta Journal Constitution share their Misadventures in Atlanta, specifically in the dating scene. The San Antonio Express-News blogs about everything from bowling and beer to speaking geek, and the Denver Post even boasts a photoblog. And while objectivity is the rule in serious journalism, sports writers let out their inner fan in team-specific blogs. The Bonita Daily News, Courier Post, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Salt Lake Tribune, and Tacoma News-Tribune, among others, root for the home team online – at least during the season.

Something Borrowed, Something Blue

There are some perennial hot topics that beg to be blogged. Both the St. Petersburg Times and the Dayton Daily News delve into topics related to motherhood (DotMoms and Adventures in Motherhood, respectively) and weight loss. A Little Will Can Go A Long Way and The Skinny detail their bloggers’ struggles to lose weight, get healthy, and, at least in the case of Times blogger John Cotey, “finish typing a sentence without losing his breath.” Similarly, the San Antonio Express-News encourages its readers to Get Fit, and the Commercial Appeal pushes for a Healthy Memphis. The Philadelphia Daily News gears their Web weight-watching toward women with Girlfriends’ Locker Room.

Sometimes what reporters are interested in is what’s interesting. According to the Tampa Bay Tribune’s Web site, electronic entertainment writer Wes Phillips “doesn’t just play video games, he lives them.” He also blogs about them in the paper-produced Gaming Life. The Salt Lake City Tribune and St. Petersburg Times blog about the latest in electronic games, as well. And there’s a surprising number of newspaper blogs devoted to all things animal: the Orlando Sentinel’s deputy managing editor and resident animal enthusiast, Ann Hellmuth, is clearly Animal Crazy, and Cindy Wolff at the Commercial Appeal has pets on her mind, while one local humane society worker who blogs for the San Antonio Express-News agrees that Animals Matter.

Beyond advancing the aims and audience of the daily newspaper, Spears says that in the end, he wants people to think of his blog, Stuck in the 80s, as “a guilty pleasure that’s actually good for you.”

“People should enjoy reading,” he says. “It doesn’t have to be a chore. There’s no reason a newspaper blog can’t help them do that.”

Emily McFarlan, originally from Springfield, IL, will graduate from New York University in May 2006, with a double major in journalism and dramatic literature, a minor in German, and a healthy interest in blogging.

Also new at Blue Plate Special this week, Conor Friedersdorf, our correspondent in the Inland Valley, says Small Can Be Big in Newspaper Blogging. "...We can't break the budget chasing Pulitzers by contriving extravagant, resource intensive stories. We can, however, publish the best blog on the Internet, and we ought to aspire to nothing less."

Newly posted, March 30, 2006:

Posted, March 23, 2006:

Posted March 9, 2006:

Posted March 7, 2006:

Our debut package was posted March 1, 2006:

Check back with us over the next ten days as we introduce new features and posts.