Blogging without comments

Danny Sanchez enters the long-simmering debate of “is it a blog without comments.”

Web managers and newspaper executives should take note. Newspaper folks sometimes think they’re hip to the Web by simply publishing or contributing to a blog without understanding that it is a much more interactive format.

Without  the interactivity provided in the comments (and actually engaging readers), a blog becomes just another publishing platform, an easy way to produce regular pages with plain information on them. And there’s nothing really new or hip about that, is there?

I left this comment:

For a long time, blogging was sold to newspaper people as “it’s just another publishing platform.� But that’s not really true. Good blogging, real blogging is a conversation.

That said, you don’t need to have comments on your blog posts to have a conversation. Instapundit, for example, is a master at conversational blogging without comments. And I’ve seen many blogs with comments where the blogger is not engaging in conversation at all — posting and ignoring subsequent comments.

The critical skill journalists need to learn isn’t how to use the tools of the digital era. It’s how to have a conversation.

Google’s growing strength

Newspaper people should pay attention to this post from John Battelle. He highlights some key points about the value of Google page views and the threat of Google someday owning vertical destinations, not just the point of decision. Also, isn’t it interesting to consider that Yahoo! could actually be better off switching to AdSense instead of building its own contextual ad platform?

Battelle is linking to this post, with this key quote:

To paraphrase an old comment about IBM, made during its 30 year dominance of the enterprise mainframe market, Google is not your competition, Google is the environment. Online businesses which struggle against this new reality will pay opportunity costs both in online advertising revenue as well as product success.

What does that mean for your newspaper?  You should think about it.

Just tell the story

Jack Lail: Just tell the story.

He’s right, of course. Story telling and story listening is part of the human experience. It’s a key reason we survived the campfire age to build Rome, sail the Atlantic and fly to the moon. In other words, story telling is a survival instinct and how we convey knowledge. It’s how we learn about the world around us and all its dangers and possibilities.

Just tell the story.

But story implies beginning middle and end, and not everything that will engage a person’s interest is so easily classified. However, if you tell us about people, you’ll get our interest. That’s what local journalism is all about. So, tell people stories. Give us something revealing about people. You can do that in three paragraphs or 30 seconds as well as 12 inches or 30 minutes. I mean, you don’t need a big production to tell us something. A lot of journalists get hung up on the unlimited space of the web and think they can write longer, stream longer or just throw up gobs of documents. But the true beauty of the web is that you are no longer constrained by the need to fill a certain number of inches or a certain number of minutes. You can stop telling us the story when the story is over. You cut the crap and cut the filler. Besides, on the web, where attention spans are short, shorter is better. Just tell us something interesting about people, but don’t try to make the story something it’s not.