Dept of I vehemently disagree–Online news can’t write off blogs

Eric Meyer, Associate professor of journalism, U of Illinois, has a long post on blogging on the online news list that basically says online news sites should just forget about blogs as the fad of the moment. While Meyer raises many good points about a paper’s responsibility to connect with their readers, he clearly doesn’t get the flexibility and immediacy of blogs. His essay is kind of like saying, “Forget television or radio, just hang around with your readers and you will have a better paper.”
A quote from Meyer’s essay:
“Blogs are just another artificial mechanism to try
to address fundamental problems that cannot be resolved with such gimmickry.
They’re not evil. They’re just not saviors.
If you really want to improve your product, take a week off and just
hang around with the people who use it. That’ll be a much better
investment that starting up some blog.”
Writing off blogs is exactly the last thing I’d advise any paper, particularly a local one, to do.
It’s not an either/or–the challenge is for online newspaper sites–and all existing organizations–for that matter, to learn enough about a new form or technology to determine how best to use it.
We already see two newspaper based blogs– Gillmor and Weintrab–having tremendous impact and value, and we also see independent journalists–like Josh Marshall and Glenn Reynolds–taking audience away from news sites and into their own independent operations.
The trick is to figure it out.
Dismissing it doesn’t fly.