By paulgillin | August 15, 2007 - 5:23 am - Posted in Paywalls

“Newsosaur” Alan Mutter writes of an interesting phenomenon that takes place in the blogosphere and which may be indicative of how little newspapers understand the culture that exists there.

He notes how a single link from a blog called Small Dead Animals drove more than 1,000 visitors to his blog in a single day. Meanwhile, mentions of his blog in several major newspapers and magazines over the previous week drew hardly any visitors at all.

Mutter suggests that this is because Small Dead Animals is a creature of the Web, which it very much is, while the mainstream media sites are trying to transplant their standards of professional publishing to a medium that doesn’t care much about them. Essentially, newspapers are republishing columnists and op-ed contributors as bloggers, but aren’t changing the style or tone of what they say, and that’s going to fail in the blogosphere.

I think it’s an excellent point. I’m still amazed that, more than a decade into the Internet revolution, many newspapers still don’t include hyperlinks in the stories that they post online. Not only is this a disservice to the reader, but it makes them look aloof and clueless, which is not something newspapers can afford to be any more.

Robert Scoble told me last year that a tech company had relayed to him that a single mention on his blog had driven more than 1,400 visitors to the company’s site. In comparison, a much longer article in an industry trade publication had delivered no traffic at all. I suspect that the cult of personality around Scoble has a lot to do with that. Walt Mossberg could probably wield that much influence in the blogosphere, but precious few other journalists could.

Is this a problem for newspapers? I think so. If all your growth is going to come online and if the community you’re trying to engage perceives you as an outsider, I don’t see how that serves your interests. The American public already sees the news media as biased, inaccurate and uncaring. So why take that unpopular formula and transplant it online?



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