Nice piece by David Carr on the addictive qualities of blogging and its impact on journalists and journalism. Because blogging is so personal (even if you’re doing it for your employer), Carr reasons that he has become much more engaged with his readers – so much so that he claims he actually called a frequent commenter who was “off the grid,” traveling in Israel and unable to post to Carr’s blog. He calls the interactions “feedback through a firehose,” and adds this point about the lure of the blog:
Tweaking the blog is seductive in a way that a print deadline never is. By the time I am done posting entries, moderating comments and making links, my, has the time flown. I probably should have made some phone calls about next week’s column, but maybe I’ll write about, ah, blogging instead.
I feel the same way. I can noodle around in my blog for hours, researching the right topic, obsessing over my miniscule readership, trying (often failing) to write something thoughtful. It sure beats doing real work.
I do disagree with one quote Carr offers from Clay Shirky, an adjunct professor in the graduate interactive telecommunications program at New York University:
“The speed of conversation is a part of what is good about it, but then some of the reflectiveness, the ability for careful summation and expression, is lost.”
Shirky should read more blogs. There are plenty that are deeply reflective and highly expressive. (See my blogroll for several good examples.)
Carr closes on the topic of Web analytics, specifically on their potential negative impact on news judgment. He quotes Jim Brady, executive editor of the Washington Post:
“The best thing about the Web — you have so much information about how people use it — is also the worst thing. You can drive yourself crazy with that stuff. News judgment has to rule the day, and the home page cannot become a popularity contest.”
But as long as page views rule the roost, that’s exactly what the home page is. Publishing bosses will continue to obsess over traffic numbers as long as they continue as the primary revenue driver. And that’s why you’ll continue to see stories about nipple covers paired with news coverage of the hanging of Hussein’s half-brother in Iraq on CNN.com.