Syntagma Digital
Editor, John Evans

Newspapers and magazines as blog networks

I’ve long been writing here at Syntagma about the “wide” version of blog networks developing into a “deeper” model more in tune with print newspapers and magazines.

This has been the basis of our “network magazine” structure over the past six months. However, I’ve not yet had the time to develop this concept as I originally set out to do. That is still to come.

We now have three broad niche “magazines” with the next stage pulling them together into one online publication, albeit distributed between multi-domains and topic verticals.

I’ve just read Scott Karp over at Publishing 2.0 — writing from the opposite direction — in which he puts the case for print newspapers converting their online presence into multi-blog networks and it certainly rings a bell with me. This convergence is undoubtedly the way forward.

A single “brand” umbrella title, with print credibility, utilizing the flair and flexibility of weblog software by employing a range of contributors, amateur and pro, while maintaining the standards, professionalism and sense of mission of the best newspapers, is clearly the future of news journalism and commentary, especially for local content.

Quote : “What’s becoming clear is that blogs are now the organizing principle for newspapers’ original online content. And these are ‘real’ blogs, i.e. driven by one or two individual bloggers, with (often active) comments, RSS feeds, the whole nine yards.”

In other words, the weblog software platform is capable of far more than we normally expect from “blogging”. It’s capable of a full range of journalistic output, linked through the tools used by the top blog networks and the quality and depth associated with the best print newspapers and magazines.

Maybe there are three tiers of journalists at these blog network “newspapers”:

1. Full-time reporters and editors, who ensure breadth of coverage, quality and standards, and public mission
2. Paid freelancers who write on a regular basis, but not full-time — these can be stay-at-home parents looking for supplemental income, retirees looking for extra income or to keep busy, college students, etc.
3. “Witness” reporters (avoiding “citizen journalist” on purpose), who contribute to the reporting effort when they witness news in some form.

As I wrote here recently, “The medium isn’t the message, the quality and form of the writing, or broadcasting is. Good reportage is just that, wherever it appears. So is commentary. So is any other form of expression. We’ve been confusing the medium with the message for too long — since Marshall McLuhan in fact.

For example, some newspapers incorporate an occasional poetry spot, where decent poets can publish their verses. Does that make the poet a journalist? If writers use blog platforms to publish the kind of article that could easily appear in a broadsheet paper or specialist magazine, does that make them bloggers?”

What is certain is that this convergence is moving fast — look at any of the online newspapers as example. Print titles are crossing over between platforms to give their audience a richer, and more updated, service than ever before.

Will the print format disappear eventually? Only when the online experience matches the depth and utility of a major print publication.

I suspect print will be with us for quite a time yet.

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