The challenges of hyperlocal
Raindrops keep falling...

'UK newspapers run the best blogs '

I was struck by this sentiment from a British newspaper executive that Adrian reported under Chatham Rules a while back:

This person had "no interest in UK blog content... didn’t rate UK blogosphere - UK newspapers have already occupied that opinion territory and run the best blogs." It reminded me of Andrew Grant-Adamson's musings and investigations, and the debate these sparked, in the earlyish days of UK newspaper blogs.


It is a long way to have travelled in such a short span of time, from not really getting it (late 2006) to having occupied this niche entirely (spring 2008), I thought to myself. I also thought it was a rather interesting notion to 'occupy' a realm some would liken to the realm of human conversation.


The whole idea of the media industry, especially the publicly financed part of it, using its  financial muscles to 'occupy' all attractive niches is also an interesting one, although, in this brave new world of ours, where everyone with access to an internet connection can be his or her own publisher, it seems to be a bit optimistic to say the least. Especially if you take these stats, that put political bloggers and 'one man bands' Guido Fawkes and Iain Dale ahead of the likes of ITN and Guardian Politics, into account...


There is of course that old adage of "lies, damned lies and statistics" to consider, which Guido Fawkes explores a bit further here. Still, this does seem to contradict the notion that UK newspapers have successfully occupied 'that opinion territory'... 

Of course, it may be that I'm putting too much into one word and getting all obsessed about proprietorial language, but the words we choose can say so much which lenses we see the world through.


I'm all for media organisations joining the conversation, and applaud those who have journalists who succeed in leading it - I can think of a few who do exactly that, or come very close - but occupy? That's what you do with hostile territories, right?


Interesting. Thanks for this. It made me think of something that had been bothering me lately: why is it that all the UK blogs I read are run by the national press?

Obviously what the Guardian and Telegraph are doing is quite good, but when it comes to blog innovation I think the Americans (Swedes and Norwegians!) seem to be doing more interesting things.

Annecdotal I know, but perhaps there's a different mindset in the UK where the media is very much about control and less about dialogue.

I enjoyed Guido's blog immensely and added it to my RSS !

The UK media has always been dominated by the big names brands - the BBC, The Financial Times, The Times, etc.

When blogging first came about, it was the early adopters, such as Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes, who 'occupied' the niche.

Now the big name brands relaise the benefits that come from having their journalists blog, they are starting to 'ocupy' theses niches too. The difference being that they have the credibility of a big name media brand behind them.

Interestingly, both the BBC and Telegrpah online editors have realised that it is less about 'occupying', but more about sharing, collaborating, and innovating. They all link out to other blogs and allow their content to be hosted on other sites (with appropriate recognition of course). The BBC's iPlayer is just one example of their innovation in the Web 2.0 era. Many of the mainstream media outlets are starting to use Pluck, a service that embeds relevant blog posts into news stories.

The problem is that journalists are getting stretched further and further as they cover both online and traditional print. Also, indie bloggers have gained credibility and so can comptete with the traditional media brands.

At the end of the day, the UK media is very financially minded. Print sales are going down every week, but there is not much money being made online.

Will be interesting to see how the UK media develops.

Jon, Ben: Of course I read UK newspaper blogs too: Greenslade and Shane Richmond are daily reads, media junkie that I am.

Other than these two, I read quite a few in the 'early days': I liked The Times' Finkelstein for instance, but was rather underwhelmed by The Telegraphs political blogs (might have changed by now. As I read so many rss-feeds, I don't find enough time to read bloggers that are not on my beat, or not part of my circle of friends, regularly).

And I do agree, Ben, that the best of these are about sharing and collaborating + sometimes just providing brilliant in-depth coverage not possible in the main news section.

I'm just shocked by some of the attidudes I sometimes still encounter in the news industry. As a media reporter, and occasional lecturer on social media, I deal with this industry on a daily basis. It is however fair to say that the attitudes have changed very much for the better during the last 1-2 years.

Jon: for good UK 'non-newspaper' blogs check my blogroll:-) Admittedly its a mix of UK and other nationalities there, and media junkie that I am; probably a majority of media blogs. In the UK, I'm particularly fascinated by the country's political blog scene - 'one man bands' like Iain Dale, Guido, Tom Watson are among those I try to stop by regularly, but there are many, many great personal niche blogs in the UK (and too little time to explore them).

I do agree that the US is probably furthest ahead when it comes to blog innovation though. A few interesting things happening in Sweden and Norway as well, esp. Swedish fashion & political blogs an interesting cititizen journalism projects like INorden - but again, there is so much to read and so little time:-)

Maybe business models are the problem.

Journalists and medias with the intent and strategy of occupying and dominating the blogosphere perhaps belive that the business model for print can be transferred to web.

And it can not.

Disagree with the "MSM-blogs are where it is at" thesis.

There are certain distinctives.

For one thing the media in the UK were craven about not republishing the Motoons. For another, MSM blogs are all tied in to highly intrusive adverts (interstitials etc); that will hurt them in the end.

They also don't (in my view) do coherent long-term campaigning, nor have they been able to mobilise communities well (cf ConHome).

For current indie blogs doing important work, I'd mention Ourkingdom and some of the real subject specialists.

I'd agree that it is also about Business Models and how indie bloggers can find one.

I have some opinions on the traffic numbers too, but I'm not coming out to talk about that yet.


Let me add two more.

News reporting is a real weakness in the MSM. Quality is suffering badly to get first stories - bloggers perhaps need to set ourselves apart by taking time to reflect and get it right.

The "first gasp" stories on news sites - especially imho the Times Online and the Beeb - sensationalise stories badly, especially headlines.

And the comments boxes on newspaper websites are an echo chamber cum bear pit - not so on blogs.

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