Buffalo News Begins Blogs

Despite the fact that I read the 23 feeds into my RSS aggregator, including CNN, on a daily basis, I still enjoy reading the Buffalo News and Dunkirk Observer, our local newspapers. For me, nothing signals the relaxed feel of a Sunday like a fresh pot of coffee and the Buffalo News. Yesterday, I read an editorial by Editor Margaret Sullivan that’s worth talking about on G-Town Talks.

Ms. Sullivan writes about the changes to the Buffalo News website in her article, “Web site will breathe new life into News”. Currently when I go to this website it’s not a source of daily news, nor is it even easy to get to someone who’s writing for the News if I’d like to comment about something that I’ve read. Margaret writes about the proposed changes with excitement and for good reason. The newspaper as we’ve always known it needs to evolve, to reinvent itself, or risk replacement by other means of information, namely the Internet.

Ms. Sullivan talks about the need to “put breaking local news on the site” and to offer “much more interactivity with readers, and a number of staff written blogs”. She acknowledges the need for change further by stating, “with young people far more attuned to the Internet than to print, the viability of newspaper journalism is at risk.”

I’ve been reading my RSS aggregator and blogging since July and I can honestly say that it’s changed the way I read and the way I interact with information. For the first time, when I read the newspaper, it’s active. I want to follow through with the ideas generated by a piece, I want to add what I think to the conversation—but it isn’t a conversation, it’s a newspaper. Therein lies the need for change, we’re changing as readers and as learners, and that dictates a change for newspapers.

Yes, Margaret, you need blogs so that your reporters can enter the conversation. And as you and your reporters already know, the conversation will become much richer and much more valuable because of your connections. The feedback you receive will be immediate and more frequent as it’s much more likely that I’ll click on “comment” than remember an article and then send an email or a letter.

Ms. Sullivan writes,

I am convinced that newspapers provide something critically important that other media often do not: depth, thoughtfulness, investigative skills and an enterprising (rather than reactive) approach to news. It may sound melodramatic but I believe it’s true: If newspapers crumble, so does a cornerstone of American democracy.”

It’s a very good thing that the News is entering the blogosphere and adding Internet delivery. Through G-Town Talks and my Bloglines account, that same depth, thoughtfulness, and research have enriched my own reading and learning. The Buffalo News, with a wealth of experience, intellect, and investigative writing, has a tremendous amount to offer. The only question left is “how do they sustain revenue when so much of our intellectual property can be found for free online?”

  1. “how do they sustain revenue when so much of our intellectual property can be found for free online?”

    Advertising. I spend time at a science blog maintained by a writer for a major Texas daily. On every screen there is a banner ad at the top. The ads are for different products at each screen, and one is inevitably exposed to a number of different ads in jumping around screens. They’re easy to ignore, but who knows what subliminal messages are imprinted on my brain.

    My particular interest at that blog is climate change. There are a number of very knowledgeable people who contribute to the discussion that have added immeasurably to my education on the subject. I can’t think of any other medium where one can direct his or her own education in quite the same way.

    I frequently read Jerry Rising’s nature column in the Sunday Buffalo News, and have communicated with him a couple times through email on subjects of interest to me. He is always very helpful, but if he were to run a blog, there would be a much larger number of people, many with expertise in various areas, who could respond to questions and link to other resources.

    I think blogs are terrific and am happy to hear that the News is getting on the bandwagon.

  2. “how do they sustain revenue when so much of our intellectual property can be found for free online?”

    By reserving some (instead of all) rights.

    As well, the question is more accurate when stated as “how do they sustain revenue when the online digital world basically negates the right to distribution?” Using the term “intellectual property” is vague and only used by lawyers who understand its meaning or by propagandists who wish to lead people into believing that the conflation of ideas with physical property rights is justified.

    Probably the best organization helping to spread awareness of the fact that All Rights Reserved doesn’t fit the digital world is the creative commons. More information on them can be found here.

    I would also highly recommend “The Wealth of Networks” by Yochai Benkler. It can be downloaded for free here.

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