How blogging may be becoming viable

In the media world outside Northern Ireland, there were a couple of bits and pieces worth noting. Emily Bell, the Guardian’s on editor had some knowledgeable advice for those who don’t yet believe the net is a viable place for news and current affairs. Her paper took some brickbats over a strategy that has taken about six years to move into online profit:

The crucial problems start when old media businesses expect to be able to apply exactly the same kind of business model to the web as they have to their old businesses. The terrible truth for the regional press in this country has been that there is no longer any need to staple your advertising for second-hand cots and unwanted kittens to an editorial roundup of the village fetes. But, if you are a local paper, you are embedded in the community and maybe you can use your skills to take that community online and gradually turn the time they spend with you into money.

The key challenge:

Attracting a crowd and holding its attention is something old media companies could do because they had a distribution stranglehold. Oddly, now that anyone can be a publisher, the ability of the traditional media to draw a crowd is being sorely tested. If the crowd likes blogs, then do blogs; if the crowd wants to hear a podcast of your weekly or daily activities, then do a podcast.

In today’s Observer, John Naughton puts the debate in the context of business:

Blogging is just a tool that companies might adopt to help them survive. But the decision to adopt that tool requires a sea change in corporate attitudes. Naked Conversations is really the next instalment of the famous Cluetrain Manifesto of April 1999, the first document that spelled out the implications for business of a networked world. The basic message of the manifesto was simple: markets were originally conversations, but the arrival of mass production and of mass markets created by mass media changed that, and the gap between the people who ran businesses and those who bought their products began to widen, bringing in its train a pathological distrust that made consumers increasingly resistant to broadcast messages. ‘We speak, you listen’ became the mantra of the classic mass-production enterprise.