I had an interesting conversation last week with Patrick Thornton from Beatblogging.org, the foundation-funded effort to explore and promote the idea that bloggers and readers can cover a beat as well or better as traditional newspapers. They started with 13 blogs -- not including this one -- but have since expanded their view of things to include any blog that has a specific beat (topic it covers) or geographic area. This blog has both.
The gist of our conversation, which may eventually turn into a post or podcast, was that this blog is at least 75 percent reader-created, in terms of comments and news tidbits and personal experiences. I jump in once in a while, to referee or to vent or to ask a question I hope will make you think, but it's mostly you.
The upside is that all sorts of things get uncovered and pursued that might not otherwise warrant attention (Clissold, anyone?). It's also very cheap to do, compared to hiring and paying real journalists on staff or even part time. A good blog generates an awful lot of visits and pageviews for a very small sum -- or at least so I'd like to think. The downside, of course, is that there's not much ability to verify or hunt down new information. There's no trusted neutral party. And without "regular" newsgathering there wouldn't be as much to talk about.
Here's a provocative recent post from their blog: Mini-metros will replace metro newspapers. What do you think? Could a cluster of blogs like this one fill in adequately for a daily paper? I don't think so, but we may soon find out.
Filed under: Media Watch