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  • 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


It’s hard to believe, looking back, but there was once considerable resistance to blogging within newspapers. In fact, it persisted well into the last decade.

As late as 2007, many papers were only dabbling with blogs – if they were using them at all. Even as the Internet was blowing up the ancient newspaper business model by unbundling advertising from editorial, a lot of editors and writers disdained blogs and bloggers as faddish and frightening and somehow unclean.

Some of this resistance stemmed from a misunderstanding of what blogs actually are: a drop-dead simple publishing platform that allows any user to post text, images, audio, and video onto the web without much technical know-how or support.

One possible reason for the confusion over blogs was the hype about “citizens media” and the avalanche of adversarial rhetoric aimed at the professional press by noisy amateurs, which perhaps caused journalists to confuse the tools with some of the tools using them. And there was also an aversion by underpaid staffers to doing what they perceived as more work – writing online in addition to print — for the same meager wage.

Today, of course, journalists understand that blogs make their jobs easier and their papers better, and blogs have been incorporated into almost every phase of the profession. Reporters post their notes and discuss stories with sources and readers before publishing the big article, resulting in a more transparent process, better organized work, and more accurate reporting; the article itself, complete with comments from readers and sources, is a routine entry on the reporter’s own blog.

Blogging editors, once a rarity, now provide as a matter of course insight into the process and the people behind the product; eventually, even the high priests of the profession quit being so damned sensitive and started engaging with their readers, building a heightened sense of trust and community.

Making readers – and other non-staff bloggers – part of the process is a given these days. We all link to non-newspaper blogs from news pages and even within online stories, and it’s long been the norm to feature (and pay!) local writers at company websites, and to troll blogs and comments for leads, sources, and a sense of the public pulse. What a change from the Us and Them mentality that pervaded some newsrooms in the old days.

Of course, it was money that convinced a lot of newspaper people that blogs were worth using. The breakthrough came with sites created by North Carolina beat writers covering NASCAR and college basketball during the 2007 season – blogs put into public view the inside poop that fans love, and brought advertisers flocking to the hugely popular sites. With the drawing power of these frequently-updated specialty sites established, it was easy to justify other blogs for smaller audiences along the Long Tail, which when packaged by ad staffs created tidy new revenue streams for the publishers.

Other things that just seem natural now were once considered radical, like equipping every reporter with a digital camera. These days it’s as hard to imagine a newspaper website without lots of video footage as it is to imagine a newspaper income statement without all the ad money taken from television – but like the familiar, in-depth podcasts and blogs themselves, such things are fairly recent innovations.

Blogs and blogging didn’t save a newspaper business that once seemed destined for decline – but in terms of energy, content, and revenue, they surely helped reverse its fortunes. Not all of this was obvious back in ‘05 and ‘06– but as we look back, we can see that some people were starting to figure it out.

Notes and Links

Ed Cone is a senior writer at Ziff-Davis Media, an opinion columnist for the Greensboro News & Record, and the author of the semi-popular weblog

Cone at his blog, March 7: "Here's a well-done profile of John Robinson at the NYU j-school site Blue Plate Special, written by grad student Briana Mowrey. Keep reading past the part where he's described as handsome, the credibility increases from there." Robinson is the editor of the Greensboro newspaper and he has a weblog.

An Ed Cone Sampler on Blogging Meets the Newsroom
We culled. Read these pieces and you'll be way smarter.

Saving the newspaper business from itself.
News & Record column, Dec. 11, 2005.

Making the Inside of the Newsroom as Big as the Outside
News & Record column, Jan. 30, 2005.

Greensboro sees birth of new alternative media
News & Record column, Dec. 12, 2004

10 Questions for Ed Cone
Interview with Terry Heaton, Donata, Dec. 27, 2004.

Thoughts on editing newspaper bloggers. Aug. 21, 2003.

News & Record columnist dumps on blogs; Cone inquires, Dec. 4, 2005.

Eliminate the editorial page or reserve it for the right occasons, June 15, 2004.

Comments (2)

Ed, you are indeed a visionary. Great story!


I hope you’ll accept our invitation to join us at the first Media Giraffe Project roundtable summit at UMass Amherst June 28-July 1. ( We’re going to spent the better part of Thurs., June 28 trying to project what the news organization of the future will look like — and you seem to have a pretty good handle on it already. Some of the folks from the Philadelphia “norgs” meeting ( will be with us. Let us know.

Bill Densmore,
The Media Giraffe Project
Journalism Program / Communication Studies
108 Bartlett Hall / Univ. of Mass.
Amherst MA 01003
ATTEND: “Democracy and Independence: Sharing News in a Connected World”
Conference: June 29-July 1, 2006 /