As people realize their value as a communications tool, blogs are spreading to more and more places where they were initially resisted. At the rate things are going, the Western economy should shudder to a halt in, oh, about six months as we all stop doing anything but writing for blogs and reading what other people are saying about us done in by our own reflexive narcissism.
Leading the way? Many corporate CEOs, according to an article by Michelle Quinn in the San Jose Mercury News. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was one of the first to become widely known for writing online, but others in the business world are following, including the head of Sun Microsystems and about 10% of his staff. Corporate bloggers are using their sites to provide backstory on products and business decisions as well as for damage control. They can also find out about customer problems via the sites’ comments. Quinn says:
Whether they write once a week or once a month, executives blog about their companies’ new products, the competition and, occasionally, their challenges. The effect is to humanize a company’s image to its customers and partners as well as to the public.
They’re being joined online by a growing legion of traditional journalists, as Dana Hull describes in the American Journalism Review. Most newsrooms had resisted blogs for years, but more and more are now encouraging reporters to blog as a way to build website traffic and to help hook readers with a more personal voice.
The Fourth Estate has fallen fast and furiously in love with blogs, from news-driven ones about professional sports teams, real estate, crime, Hurricane Katrina, immigration and local and national politics to zanier ones that dive deep into niche subcultures.
Most are written by staffers, particularly sportswriters and columnists. Some reporters at metropolitan dailies have transformed blogging into a full-time beat, and rarely file anymore for the print edition. Other papers have involved entire sections in online group diaries: At the Dallas Morning News, the editorial board’s blog gives readers a behind-the-curtains look at how board members wrangle over issues, argue with one another and reach critical decisions.
Along the way, journalist/bloggers are having to confront questions of standards and behavior in a medium with different set of rules than those of traditional media outlets. The article concludes with some basic tips for blogging provided by an editor for the Morning News.
Advocacy and electoral campaigns are turning to blogs for many of the same reasons and are confronting many of the same issues. Who in an organization can blog? What topics are allowed and what are off-limits? What is the appropriate voice for a candidate or institution? And, how do you allocate enough to time to write while still doing your normal job?
Thanks to Micropersuasion for pointing out both articles.