Sunday, May 22, 2005

On Bloggers...

If you happen to go to the Journal Gazette's website, you'll notice that they're still promoting Tracy Warner's blog. ("There's a new blog in town" -- who are the ad wizards who came up with that one?)

We're sure Tracy's a nice fella (we'll be assuming that about all FW media folks, until we're told otherwise), but he's not much of a blogger. Now, admittedly, he's still relatively new at the craft -- and it is a craft, one that has to be learned. But right now, his blog isn't much more than him reporting on things that have already been reported. Our favorite, titled, "NEWSWEEK and torture":
A relatively small item in Newsweek’s “Periscope” section has drawn much attention this past week. The magazine reported U.S. interrogators at Guantánamo prison had placed the Qur’an on toilet seats and even flushed one. The item was the source of a JEER in Saturday’s Cheers and Jeers editorial in The Journal Gazette. The Times of London reported on subsequent riots linked to the article. Here’s how Newsweek’s editor responds, and here’s the magazine’s follow-up story.
The item's dated May 16th, a Monday (the "scandal" broke over the previous weekend), so it wasn't exactly breaking news. Most people, we assume (and certainly those web-savvy enough to be reading Tracy's blog) already knew about the story. His item's sole purpose seems to be to crow that someone mentioned it in the JG's CHEERS and JEERS section a few days prior. And? Congratulations to that sagacious JG reader who, like the militant Islamists who started the riots that killed 15 people, was outraged at the NEWSWEEK story -- and, like the Islamists, was successfully duped by shoddy reporting. Then the Journal published his unfounded indignation. And Warner is bragging about this why?

If Tracy wants his blog to be successful (and judging from the lack of reader comments, it hasn't exactly set the world on fire), he's got to jazz things up. This guy is a professional editorialist -- why is it so hard for him to have an opinion on his blog? What's interesting isn't Tracy passing along information, it's him giving his take on it.

Don't worry about getting sued for libel, Tracy -- it hasn't happened to a blogger yet, and if you're the first, well, think of the publicity! CNN, the New York Times...the Fort Wayne READER might even make it the cover! (If it hasn't folded by then.)

The real problem, we suspect, is that Tracy's blog is overseen by the JG. Instead of just writing, there are other things to consider. It's likely there's someone (editor Craig Klugman?) overseeing the blog. Putting restrictions, even "guidelines" on a blogger is the kiss of death. What we want is Tracy, unfiltered. What we're getting is Tracy, FW wire service.

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It's hard to talk about FW Media blogging without bringing up the notorious Nancy Nall. No longer a resident of the Fort, she was a blogging pioneer, at least as far as Fort Wayne Newspapers employees were concerned. While we're not regular readers of NancyNall.com, it's clear that she figured out how to blog. She decided what she was going to write about, and what she wasn't, and she didn't mince words. She didn't have to worry about an editor (her husband?) cutting or changing anything. She was direct, and she didn't apologize.

Tracy would do well to learn a lesson from Nancy: it's okay to make your blog all about you. It is, after all, your blog. (And like NancyNall.com, it's at TracyWarner.net)



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