Sunday, March 16, 2008

Newspapers Doing Blogs

Mark Cuban provocatively argues that newspapers have made an enormous mistake by creating their own blogs. Here's an extended snippet:

A blog is a blog is a blog is a blog. The NY Times Blogs on their website are blogs. People who have blogs have a hard enough time coming up with a definition of what blog is. Potential or even current readers have no real idea of what the term blog reflect in terms of quality or content.

I'm sure the NY Times, like all major media outlets hopes that because it is branded a NY Times blog, that readers will have the perception and expectation that it will be of a higher quality than say, Blogmaverick.com . That when readers actually read the blog, they will see that its of a higher quality than say, Blogmaverick.com. It may well be that some do.

The marketing reality however is that there is a significant risk that they will not. That rather than assigning the brand equity of the NY Times to the blogs hosted, they will take the alternative path of assigning their perception of what a blog is to the NY Times, there by having a negative impact on the brand equity of the NY Times. That's an enormous risk for any mainstream brand to take.

If I worked for the NY Times, or any other media company with any level of brand equity, I would have done everything possible to define the section of our website that offers ongoing as anything other than a blog. I would make up a name. Call it say.....RealTime Reporting.

Mr. Cuban's argument could be strengthened further by noting that many newspapers freely admit that they lower standards with regard to their blog content. I regret that I cannot locate the link, but a few weeks ago, a blogger on the generally well-done Dallas Morning News weblog responded to criticism of something posted by telling the commenter that he should lighten up. After all, he said, this is just a blog. It's not like it is in the real newspaper.

Admitting that you have degraded your standards is no way to improve the reputation of the brand. Media outlets who see new media in that way do themselves a disservice.

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