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August 2007
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Editor-in-chief steps in as newspaper delivery man

It's tough getting enough unskilled labour in countries like Norway and Denmark. So tough that the editor-in-chief of Tönsbergs Blad, a regional newspaper in an affluent seaside area of Southern Norway, has taken to delivering the newspaper himself (via NA24 Propaganda). Due to a desperate shortage of newspaper delivery folks, Frode Kydland has taken it upon himself, in good Norwegian communal spirit, to get up at 3am and do his bit to keep the newspapers' subscribers happy. And this is a newspaper that definitely can afford to get people to distribute their product, they just can't find them – like in Denmark, were newspaper companies had to import more labour from Poland last autumn to get all the new door-to-door freesheets delivered.


Those were the days...

Or were they? Whether or not this is history, and if making it history is desirable, can be debated, but it still sums up much of the glory newspapers held, and still hold to many a journalism student. Okay, so I've shamelessly ripped this quote from a Fantasy book, "The Court of the Air" by Stephen Hunt, but I bet most of you can relate to some of the romantic sentiments about newspapers in these lines:

"It's easy to mistake this [The Middlesteel Illustrated News] for a couple of sheets of wood pulp, m'dear, but you'd be wrong. This is a weapon. No less than the bloated airship floating above Middlesteel; and this can do a great deal more than burn a district to the ground. It can inflame an entire nation to arms. It can send the people stampeding in one direction or t'other at a polling booth. It can burrow into the heart of the flash mob and turn over the stone of the underworld so everyone can see the worms and maggots crawling through our sewage. It can uproot the stench and sweat of Stallwood Avenue mill and slap it down inside the comfortable five-storey house of an articled clerk. It can take a selfless act of bravery and make it seem like the grossest foolhardiness - or it can take an idiot and raise him up to strut across the floor of parliament like a peacock."

All free, at the modest price of your privacy

Targeted marketing comes in so many forms these days. And to think I was a bit worried about this trend when there's services like Pudding Media (from Valleywag, via Adriana's Furl feed):

There's a new Skype competitor, dubbed ThePudding, on the Web. And ThePudding is completely free*. All you have to do is agree to let Pudding Media listen in on your calls. To compensate users for the breach of privacy, the company claims, "ThePudding uses breakthrough technology that makes your conversations fun and interesting." In other words, anyone using ThePudding will be served contextual ads based upon topics overheard in your conversation! It's like Google's Gmail, but for talking. Remember when we were freaked out by the idea of Google scanning our email to pick out relevant ads? And how we all got over it?

That's what Pudding Media CEO Ariel Maislos would have you believe, anyway. He explains, "The trade-off of getting personalized content versus privacy is a concept that is accepted in the world." Besides the firm is targeting youths, who judging from their MySpace and Facebook habits, aren't concerned with privacy. In other words, targeting the young and the weak.

Quote of the day

"Modern journalists believe that as indispensable arbiters and guardians of the 'truth', they must be independent of government just as they must be independent of pressures from anyone or anything — no pressures allowed from government, employers, business competition, corporate takeovers, advertisers, even the demands of their own readers with their questionable judgment and taste for sensationalism." - Steve Borris.


Road Tripping


A close friend has recently been named Warren T. Brookes Journalism Fellow 2007-2008. She's pulled up her roots from Columbia MO, and is moving from Missouri to Virginia via Toronto. Makes perfect sense to me. I'm kinda envious of her road trip actually, and these words, mostly from one of Tove Jansons' books, struck a cord with me:

“Early one morning in Moomin Valley Snufkin woke up in his tent with the feeling that autumn had come and it was time to break camp.

Breaking camp in this way always comes with a hop, skip, and jump! All of a sudden everything is different, and if you’re going to move, you’re careful to make use of every single minute, you pull up your tent plugs and douse the campfire quickly before anyone can stop you or start asking questions you start running, pulling on your rucksack as you go, and finally you’re on your way and suddenly quite calm, like a solitary tree with every single leaf completely still. Your camp site is an empty rectangle of bleached grass. Later in the morning your friends wake up and say: He’s gone, autumn’s coming.”

I have been very calm and introvert the last few days. I always leave in the same fashion Snufkin did. No clear dates, no clear plans, people don’t really know when I will go, just that the time is getting close.

I always operate with clear dates, just leave it to the last minute – and I'm famous for calling up people on the same day when I just happen to be in London, San Fransisco or similar.

As a freelancer, I find it very hard to plan ahead – never know when I might stumble across a good story or land another cool assignment. Money talks and walks, and – a freelancer from the tender age of 18 – I always come home from my travels with good stories and am very skilful at collecting string. Which reminds me, I haven't been stateside for years: I need an employer with deep pockets, which is a contradiction in terms if you work in the field I do - newspaper with deep pockets, dream on...

Social Media Club: a lesson in agendas and listening

Is the rise of social media threatening the fabric of society, as Andrew Keen argues, or does it represent a positive challenge to established interests, as argued by e.g. James Surowieki?

This was the topic for last Thursday's Social Media Club London, but, after Richard Stacey's eminent intro, the discussion quickly diverted into a number of other strands.

Since I'm both firmly rooted in mainstream media (MSM), and at loss as to why Keen's flawed reasoning gets so much traction, I ended up in the 'democratisation group' – or the 'how social media will revolutionise/subvert existing media' group, as Adam called it.

This group was headed by a guy who, at a very early stage, pitted social media against MSM: he claimed all MSM subscribed to the same overarching agenda and wilfully ignored the truth. As Adam, I have clearly missed that agenda memo: I have yet to me a journalist who sets out to be deliberately biased, though I have met several who seem unable to divide values from facts. That, however, is a different debate.

My curiosity was aroused by this blanket statement, but I soon found that this guy's primary interest was talking about how his boss, inspired by the Cluetrain Manifesto, had gone about revolutionising the company's internal communications.

Now, all kudos to his boss for that, but it's important to remember that those company walls the Cluetrain guys berated don't only shut people out; they also shut people in. Behind them, we're all individuals, and, despite all the stuff they teach us in journalism school (journos don't have friends, we have contact books, if you want a friend: get a dog etc), most of us are human.

That's why, as I've touched on before, but keep running out of time to elaborate on, journalists as well, whether we approve of it or not, are trapped in those Catholic churches; confined by the professional environments we operate in.

Overall, I was struck by how the majority of people I heard talk, or talked to, that evening had their own agendas; how all had something to sell or market, sometimes at the expense of genuine conversation. Or maybe it was that you get so isolated as a social media geek in day-to-day worklife that when you are in an actual crowd of people who share your fascination for this area, you can't help but to vent your frustrations, and your passion for the application(s) you're working with.

In either case, it was a fascinating evening, and I don't mean that in a British way: it was great to be meet both bloggers I read, and bloggers that were new to me; whatever additional listening skills I've acquired as a blogger came in handy; I gained a better understanding of many of the things people struggle with when utilising blogs in their day-to-day work – and, last but not least, I was mightily impressed by how Lloyd moderated the evening's discussion(s).

As a sidenote: Cluetrain was pushed into my hands in 2000 or 2001, but, perhaps because media is a pretty informal environment to work in, and you're often too busy chasing deadlines to do much 'deep' thinking, the power of the book didn't really dawn on me until I worked for the British Civil Service.

Okay, I give up: I dropped by last Thursday's Social Media Club London and have been meaning to write about it ever since, but I've been working hard to unwind, catch up with half my life and get going on a few MSM stories calling out for me to write them. Sounds like incompatible goals? They are. In other words: time to sit down and gather my thoughts about the event, which I'm very glad I made the effort to attend, keeps slipping from me. So watch this space ... I will add my two pennies on what I took away from it eventually. In the meantime, check out Adam Tinworth and Alan Patrick's round-ups.

Make it quick and easy, please

A vast majority of people base their choice of news sources not on quality but on convenience, comprehensiveness, or timeliness. That is, if we are to believe this analysis of what consumers want from online news - based on US data - by McKinsey (via Adrian Monck).

Cynics might say that this is exactly what consumers are getting online: 'cheap' news copied from other sources, but I must admit I'm a bit surprised at this finding. I read more online news, and more quality online news, than I've ever consumed either online, in print, from TV/radio or from all of those formats together. I will admit that I opt out of formats that don't go too well with my busy schedule and sometimes unreliable internet connection, like video or sites that take a long time to load, especially when I'm travelling. So yes, I do like the formats I get news in to be quick and easy, but there is so much to choose from that bad quality, inaccurate, news, or even good quality irrelevant news, instantly fall off my radar.

Comment of the day

Busy day for me, catching up with friends. I hope to be back blogging tomorrow, but, in the meantime, here's a few words from a comment that struck a cord with me:

I am beginning to suspect that a blog might simply be the centre of one's public internet presence – kinda like one's home (personal blog) or office (professional blog). It's the place where you and your on-line friends hang out, or where you meet colleagues and have those esoteric conversations deep into the night. It's ones node on the "social graph". It's a way of making new friends. Infact, on-line columns aside, I might go so far as to describe a blog as one's internet face; and who'd be without a face?

Expert bloggers to Nyhedsavisen

Nyhedsavisen, the Icelandic-owned Danish freesheet, has just hired two political bloggers, Jarl Cordua and David Troels Garby to blog at (via

"David and Jarl can offer inside knowledge that neither the average citizen nor journalist can access. They have access to all the latest political gossip and can contribute to lift the veil on what really happens in the corridors of power," said David Trads, Nyhedsavisen's controversial editor. already has a range of blogs, written by both journalists and readers, and Trads said the new initiative was meant supplement this universe with resources that went beyond that of your average journalist.

Jarl Coruda will write a blog called "Punch from the right", David Troels Garby one called "Punch from the left".

TV4 buys political blog of journalist ousted in hacking scandal

Sweden's biggest commercial TV-channel is acquiring for 1m SEK (about £75,000) (via Dagens Media).

The blog was set up by Niklas Svensson after he was ousted from Swedish tabloid Expressen in the aftermath last year's 'hacking-scandal'. Svensson lost his job when it was revealed he had failed to inform his superiors of how a source had given him log-in details for the governing party's intranet, log-in details Svensson insisted he'd never used for a story. He was later fined for data trespass by a Swedish court.

But, the former political reporter immediately set up, and went on to blog his way back on the national agenda with many a great political scoop. Back when the blog launched, it reminded me a bit about the UK's Guido Fawkes, but it has now grown into what looks like a fully-fledged news, or rather niche news, site. The site even attracts good advertisement money according to Hans Kullin, who has more details on Politikerbloggen's scoops, ad revenue and visitors.

On hobby horses

One argument I frequently encounter when I talk to journalists and editors about blogging, is how bloggers are untrustworthy because they have all sorts of hobby horses. Now, I could say a lot about that proposition, but I have one of those days with little time for blogging (and, yes, I do have a few comments and emails I hope to get back to as soon as I can), so instead of trying to line up some profound arguments, I'll just leave you with this quote I nicked from Siobhain Butterworth:

Laurence Sterne wrote in Tristram Shandy: "Have not the wisest of men in all ages, not excepting Solomon himself, have they not had their hobby horses; their running horses, their coins and their cockle-shells, their drums and their trumpets, their fiddles, their pallets, their maggots and their butterflies? And so long as a man rides his hobby horse peaceably and quietly along the King's highway, and neither compels you or me to get up behind him, pray, Sir, what have either you or I to do with it?"

Schibsted + Deutsche Post = New German Freesheet?

According to Handelsblatt (in German) Deutsche Post is in talks with Norwegian media group Schibsted about launching a national German freesheet (via

It's not a secret that Deutsche Post is considering to move into the freesheet market to beef up its revenue streams ahead of the European Union's liberalisation of the market for postal services in 2009. And Schibsted would, of course, with its market leading freesheets in France and Spain and two previous attempts at launching a free newspaper in Germany (via Piet Bakker), be able to add valuable expertise to a potential partnership. For Schibsted's part, Germany must be an attractive market to crack, but the threat of getting sued for unfair competition, as happened with Schibsted's first German freebie project, hasn't exactly gone away...

Company tables lawsuit to remove online comments by what is believed to be unhappy customers

Gee, the mind-boggling lawsuits this brave new world of ours throws up:

An Australian accounting software developer blames a "severe downturn in sales" on people who bad-mouthed its products in online user forums. It wants a judge to muzzle their comments. The company is also seeking about $125,000 in damages from the operator of the website which hosted the forums (full story here)

Yes, people do (shock, horror) talk together online, and, yes, it often has ramifications for brands, reputation and ultimately earnings. Too many companies have yet to wake up to the fact that the Internet enables people to have the conversations they once had in the pub or coffee house online: leaving permanent electronic footprints which enable disenchanted customers to find each other and exchange experiences regardless of geographic locations or distances.

And then of course, when commenters do wade into the minefield of 'infringing' on a product's reputation you get these interesting discussions of how we can be sure that these folks are who they claim to be, have reasons to say what they mean, or mean what they say, or... how did that one go again?

Not to mention all the challenges of distributed conversations. As for this story, I got it from Adriana, who got it from Leo, who by the way happen to be the man behind this blog's banner (based on a shot from Muswell Hill, where I shall be returning next week).

Next Thursday's lunch:


Disclaimer: I would of course never dream of writing
a 15-word long headline in any of my day jobs.

Schibsted moves in on UK ad market

Schibsted, the ambitions Norwegian media group who, some would say, operates in a different league than most other Scandinavian media companies, aims to take a slice of the international ad market by setting up shop in London (via Dagens Media, in Swedish).

To start with, the London office will employ two media sellers primarily selling ad space for Schibsted's Swedish websites, such as business site The site is in the process of beefing up its high-end lifestyle section and recently advertised for two new journalists with 'expensive habits' (not that they were prepared to offer a salary to match those habits though).

In the long run, the group, which also owns leading newspapers and websites in Norway, Estonia, France and Spain, plans to expand both the size and scope of its London office, and will try to convince international media buyers to buy into a range of other products.

London luxury beckons
(picture from lovely Petersham Hotel)

The 'Danish surprise' is not in Mecom's interim results

Lacklustre results from Mecom's Danish arm was to be expected, but the latest proposed freehsheet merger certainly caught me by surprise.

I must admit I was a bit surprised to see Mecom shares tumble almost 5pc in yesterday's trading, after the company announced its interim results for the first half of 2007. To my mind, the preliminary report offered no big surprises.

Yes, Denmark is Mecom's Achilles heel, as it was Orkla Media's Achilles heel before David Montgomery's investment vehicle acquired it. Those who've followed this story will know that back then, Orkla Media's profit margin in Denmark was about 3pc, compared to 5pc in Poland and 7,5pc in Norway.

With one established and one brand new, albeit short-lived, free paper, the tumultuous Danish freesheet war was not likely to improve the financial prospects for Berlingske Officin, Mecom's Danish arm, any time soon.

Still, Mecom-boss Montgomery was none too pleased whith the disappointing Danish results, and Danish media speculated that this was the source of disagreement which saw Berlingske Officin's CEO Lasse Bolander replaced by Mecom's John Allwood.

The surprise? Well, I was gobsmacked when reported that Berlingske Officin was merging its surviving freesheet, the youth-oriented Urban, with its family-oriented tabloid B.T. a few weeks back. However, the article and headline didn't quite match, the press office was busy, I had other deadlines to chase, and by next morning the headline had been altered to support the article's more modest claim that the two newspapers' administrations were being merged.

Today though, quotes John Allwood saying that merging the editorial teams of B.T. and Urban is indeed an option being considered.

Now THAT prospect threw me. Of all the Danish freeshets Urban probably has the most distict profile, with a dedicated readership among 12-24 year olds, and was on course to deliver its first profit before the freesheet war broke out last August. The proposed marriage with B.T., a very different kind of paper, is certainly not one I had foreseen...

Blog buzz revealed election results

Want to know the results of next year's US election? Follow the blog buzz. At least if this Norwegian experiment is anything to go by:

A blog measuring the blog buzz around Norway's political parties and key political issues proved to be quite accurate when it came to predicting the winners and losers in yesterday's local election.

I must admit that I was very sceptical, and remain sceptical, to whether measuring the frequency of keywords, or correlations of keywords, in the blogosphere, is a reliable way to predict election outcomes.

Still, just as political scientist Dag P. Svendsen predicted on his blog, the election winners were indeed The Labour Party (AP), The Progess Party (Frp) and The Conservative Party (H), although the differences between their gains from the last local election were marginal (currently 2,1pc, 1,2pc and 1pc). As for the losers, Svendsen's predictions were correct for The Socialist Party (SV), but incorrect for The Liberal Party (V) and the Christian People's Party (Krf).

Before the election I said I had little faith in using quantitative analysis of blog buzz to predict election results or to measure how concerned people are about different political issues:

A quantative analysis doesn't look at what values people attribute to the party or issue, and is hampered with methodological problems such as the risk of measuring spurious connections, how the blogosphere may not be representative for the population at large etc.

However, in this case the blogosphere proved to be an excellent mirror of the country's population. Now, THAT is interesting. So for all those out there who thought the blogosphere was the exclusive domain of nutters, crakpots and losers: at least in Norway, bloggers seem to be quite representative of the population's overall voting pattern.

I have also said I think blogs are comparable to digital versions of the conversations people have over a cup of coffee or a pint of beer, and as such the blogosphere can be a great resource for politicians who want to know more about what issues people are concerned about; how the political parties and the way they deal with these issues are perceived etc.

In other words, the blogosphere is an interesting place to keep an eye on both for forward thinking politicians and companies, but they will need to apply some sort of qualitative analysis in order to get the most valuable input.

Not to mention how the blogosphere offers fabulous opportunities for politicians to engage directly with their potential and existing voters, unmediated – especially in a local election in such a small country such as Norway, I might have added.

Sadly, I didn't see one top politician grasping this opportunity. Yes, quite a few of them had blogs at this election, put out some videos on YouTube even, but it bore every hallmark of being something they'd been told they should do – yet, with the exception of one or two youth politicians, didn't have a clue how to.

Two interesting tools for filtering the US political blogosphere in a meaningful way here (via Poynter's E-media tidbits).

Not so fast, Mr Montgomery

Governance of Owners (GO) is attempting to throw a spanner in the works for former Mirror-boss David Montgomery's rapidly expanding newspaper empire (via NA24 Propaganda).

The British fund has adviced Dutch newspaper group Wegener, of which GO owns 13.3 pc, to reject Mecom's bid.

Wegener's improved financial outlook
In a statement GO said: "GO believes that this offer does not reflect the true value of Wegener and leaves Mecom with all the benefits from acquiring this improving, high-quality Dutch business...

Governance for Owners is not convinced that Mecom is the right partner for Wegener at this stage of its development. As a long term shareholder, we wish to encourage Wegener’s management to explore alternative growth options.”

Last month, just before Mecom made its formal bid, Wegener group published substantially improved financial results for the first six months of 2007. Net profit was EUR 23.8 million, compared with a net loss of EUR 4.6 million in the 2006 first half. Cash earnings, which consist of the net result before exceptional items and after deduction of the preference dividend to be paid, came to EUR 19.2 million, up from EUR 8.6 million in 2006.

The making of a media giant
In less than two years, Mecom has scooped up Orkla Media, Limburg Group, 75 pc of Berliner Verlag and 30 pc of Wegener group, amassing a pan-European portfolio consisting primarily of regional and local newspapers. Acquiring all the outstanding shares in Wegener would make Mecom a larger newspaper business than Britain's Trinity Mirror and Norway's Schibsted.

However, in every country Mecom has acquired newspapers, the company has been met with fear, apprehension and loud protests from the country's journalists, editors and politicians.

Fearful hacks and decision makers
Dutch journalists have told me how they fear Mecom's Dutch adventures will be a repeat of Apax's shortlived ownership of PCM, which left the formerly well-heeled company in a poor financial state. Norway's culture minister has told me, and anybody else who would listen, of his concerns that Mecom's high demands on company contributions could weaken the newspaper product, undermine media diversity, and ultimately threaten local democracy.

On the other hand, Montgomery himself has stated again and again that Mecom is in the business for the long haul, a prospect which didn't seem to go down too well with Norwegian journalists last time I saw him repeat it in front of a big group of them.

But outside the corridors of power...
Readers I have talked to haven't been anywhere near as worried about the the prospect of foreign newspaper ownership, some have even welcomed a change from business as usual, but I won't pretend to have conducted anywhere near a conclusive survey - it may even be that those I have talked to, mostly well educated and well travelled, are less than representative.

Still, to paraphrase Roy Greenslade's words in the wake of Murdoch's successful acquisition of Wall Street Journal, until now, it seems Montgomery has been able to "rely on the fact - and it is a fact that media folk find it difficult to comprehend - that almost all his critics are journalists, closely followed by politicians. The public, and that includes the business community, are neutral."

(Disclosure: NA24 Propaganda is one of my regular employers)

When is a blogger not a blogger?

Ever heard of the blogging journalist who denied being a blogger?

Just as I published my last post I realised that I'd made the monumental mistake of making a statement about what blogging IS in the headline (hence the correction). From experience I know that can be dangerous stuff as people have all sorts of very personal takes on what blogging is and isn't.

Of course, technically speaking, a blog is just a publishing platform which can be used for all sorts of different purposes, but Christopher Allbritton, a freelance journalist who pens the popular Back to Iraq blog, has gone to the somewhat controversial step of denying on his blog (via Martin Stabe) that writing a blog makes him a blogger.

The background? In response to Michael Skube's recent attack on the blogsophere, Jay Rosen compiled a list of examples of bloggers doing journalism which included Allbritton. Now, I understand why Allbritton felt it pertinent to point out that using his blog as an example of what many would dub 'citizen journalism' is misleading, but Allbritton goes much further than that:

"I am a journalist who chose to blog to make a career move. I am still a journalist, proudly embedded in the so-called mainstream media, which generates about 99.9999% of the original reporting today... So at the risk of sounding elitist, just because I have a blog doesn’t mean I’m in your club — or you in mine."

This has sparked a few interesting conversations. Mindy McAdams asks: “If you add up every word in one day’s newspaper, how many of them are journalism?" A very timely question in view of the recent Norwegian debate about whether or not online journalism is built on theft, shamelessly republishing other people's work under the site's own bylines (link in Norwegian, will try to blog more about this particular discussion over the wknd).

Another interesting debate has flared up over at Poynter's, partly about whether journalism is a higher calling than blogging (I can vividly imagine that a blogger who spends all his free hours blogging about his greatest passion, with no other motivation than love and public spirit, might find that statement a bit rich).

For the record: I am both a blogger and a journalist, or a blogging journalist if you like. In either case, those are two very different kind of roles - yet they feed and inform each other.

- Your blog is as your backup brain

On the theme of how to explain blogging and its benefits to journalists, I found this little gem catching up with one of my RSS-feeds:

A blog post is not (or at least, it shouldn't be) a writing assignment you must prep for and deliver as a finished package. Let go of the idea that you must have everything nailed down, organized, and edited before you publish.

Blog your initial brainstorming. Blog your research. Blog your interactions.

The clincher to all this is to use your blog as your backup brain -- or at least as a public notebook. Get more mileage out of work you would have done anyway by changing your habits toward managing information and communication publicly. Instead of keeping your thoughts, notes, and conversations to yourself, post them.

How to Spend More time Blogging
Amy Graham wrote this in response to a question on how to spend less time blogging, do check out the full post, which sparked this useful reaction:

That's a natural question, but the wrong one. The right question is, "How can I spend more time with my blog?" What can I do that I should stop doing? Rather than assume that blogging is an add-on, with the insinuation is that it is taking away time from "serious" journalism, how about treating it as journalism itself?

Fact is, if your blog is all that it can be, you'll be spending more time on it because you'll be part of a conversation with your readers. Talking with people -- blogging -- takes more time than solitary writing. But it has tremendous value. Why, as Amy points out, your audience may help you with your journalism.

Amy also has some interesting thoughts on journalism, conversation and community here, which I hope to get back to as soon as my deadlines will allow

What journalists need to know about snowballs and fires

Or maybe that should be: what journalists need to know about distributed conversations.

I came across this survey on Friday, which unsurprisingly found that most (Danish) journalists found reading blogs irrelevant to their work. "Ah, the things they are missing out on," I thought to myself, but was too busy chasing my own deadlines to try to put words to what exactly that was.

And if I had answered 'inside gossip' or 'expert opinion or analysis' it wouldn't have made much sense to these journalists: most people who are unfamiliar with the blogosphere find it hard to separate the wheat from the chaff and struggle with the signal to noise ratio. Similarly, if I had said that blogging helps me clarify my thinking, or store and share links or tidbits I find interesting, which it does - this blog is basically 'my thoughts in motion about the changing media landscape' - it would have been too shallow.

See, if I attempt to explain, to myself as much as anybody else, how blogging and reading blogs is useful, if not invaluable, to me as a journalist, or as a human being for that matter, it comes down to distributed conversations. Or, to use Doc Searls' more powerful metaphors: snowballs and fires.

In the framework of my blog it works like this: I write about a company like Mecom in Norway and another blogger adds a German or Polish perspective, another tips me off about a story I might find interesting in my comment field. Or I write about a law I find worrying, another blogger picks up on the thread and asks a hard question or two, a third does an interview to clarify the situation and adds some very valuable thoughts on what impact the law might have on regimes in Africa, and another cool person analyses the law in a comment (follow-up here).

And even this is really too narrow a description of distributed conversations, but here's a good stab at deconstructing them. Besides, all of this comes on top of how my blog has the marvellous effect of attracting readers who are passionate about the issues I'm passionate about.

How, what, where, when and why? Yes, I'll get back to all that. I got this far, but realised I'm so stuck in deadlines right now that it might take me quite some time to finish this post. Besides, I don't want to write a treatise, so might want to chop it up a bit.

However, I'm moving on to how this necessitates tracking conversations about the issues you write or care about, e.g. with Technorati, and ideally linking to them; how there's lots of opportunities for MSM to engage more with their readers here, and how journalists as well, whether we approve of it or not, are trapped in those Catholic Churches...