Monday, December 05, 2005

St. Cloud Times gets blogs, sorta, kinda 

The St. Cloud Times, our local paper, ran an op-ed yesterday tooting its own horn forblogs. This is fine, except that they haven't really discovered what to do with them yet.

First, they seem to make them event specific. Sue Halena, with whom I've worked in the past with QBR, wrote a blog specifically for her trip to China. OK, but that's a travelogue, not a blog, and won't be if she doesn't update it soon. Sue has been the person with her finger on the pulse of area business for a few years now -- how about sharing a little more? Likewise, Kevin Allenspach is writing a hockey blog -- only if SCSU is playing hockey. Isn't there anything going on in the meantime? Can't you tell us about practices or conversations about hockey you're having? Closer to having the right idea is Frank Rajkowski, if you're into small college sports. His halftime post of the St. Johns -- Wisconsin-Whitewater game was exactly the kind of thing blogs can be good at, and his post-game post had the kinds of things you want from a reporter's blog: reflective, adding insights that didn't fit the story, speculative about upcoming games, etc. Frank didn't seem to know if he would continue the blog after this, again indicating the event-specific thinking about blogs in newspapers. Yet there are many good examples of blogs by news and sports people that take on a life of their own. For news, consider the links given out here by Jeff Jarvis, and for sports, Art Martone. (You knew I'd pick a Red Sox guy, right?)

Someone who seems to get it already is the youngest of the bunch, Liz Kohman, who writes a local entertainment blog. Take this entry, for example:
I was chatting with a St. Cloud-native who came home for the holidays this weekend, and he said he noticed that a local nightclub seemed to have racially divided rooms, with white people hanging out downstairs and black people hanging out upstairs.

Has anybody else noticed this? Why do you think it happens?
I'd like to have known which bar she's talking about (I think I know) and I'd like to see the comments she's getting if any. That's something you probably would not put in the paper, though a story could develop from feedback. It is not a well-designed blog, though that's largely because they insist on running it using the same software the newspaper website uses. She needs something cleaner and more comment-inviting. (The Times has no problems getting comments listed on its news stories.)

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