Thursday, December 13, 2007

Blog, Blog, Blog

Blogging stuff keeps piling up in my life. Here's two posts in one, first on ADN blogs and then on Quarterlife and Marshall Herskovitz.

Anchorage Daily News (ADN) wants bloggers
At the Alaska Apple Users Group meeting last night, Kathleen McCoy from the Anchorage Daily News announced the paper was soliciting local bloggers who cover a specialized topic - community council news, local horse news, etc. They already have 13 blogs that I counted here tonight from gardening and barhopping to hockey. I got to talk to her a little during the break. Seems as the print version - and the employee base - shrinks, the ADN is trying to fill the void by using the free labor of local bloggers. On the one hand, that's good in a number of ways. It means
  • ordinary people are writing about what they're passionate about
  • we'll get coverage with different perspectives
  • there won't be anyone to force a certain look or perspective
  • there will be more room for comments - and maybe individual bloggers can do a better job of monitoring the nastiness of some of the current ADN blogs
  • featured blogs will get more attention than they might otherwise
But on the negative side it means:
  • the inconsistent quality we see online in general
  • corporate exploitation of community public citizens - they aren't likely to share any ad revenue and they are cutting staff and replacing it with unpaid bloggers
  • hit and miss coverage as unpaid bloggers have to earn a living and miss their posts, decide they don't need to subsidize the ADN with their blogs, and otherwise skip posts and/or drop out
I think the ADN has no choice but to figure out ways to create an electronic presence. Kathleen has been around the ADN many years and I think she's trying to make this work. So far their stance on monitoring the nastiness of some of the regular blog posters seems short sighted to me. I can't find the posts I was looking for, but here is a little after Andrew Halcro quit his ADN blog.I'll hold judgment, though I'm on the wrong side of neutral in my expectations at this point.


One of the best television programs I ever saw was "My So-Called Life." One of the producers, Marshall Herskovitz, was on Fresh Air this morning, talking about the television industry (the effects of corporate consolitdation and the end of the ban on networks owning the programing) and his new effort - an internet tv program called Quarterlife that has been bought by NBC. Quarterlife has been on the periphery of my consciousness, but the interview brought it front and center. I watched the first two shows today. (You can watch it online at there are 11 episodes so far, all available.)

The show is about a young woman who... you guessed it, has a blog named....did you figure it out yet? Quarterlife. It is very real, very unlike most television. And no commercials. And you won't have any late fees.

I suspect blogs are a transitional genre, and maybe corporate World will end up buying up or otherwise coopting the best - or at least most profitable - but something is happening here. Stay tuned.

[More recent posts at ADN Blogging Policy - 1 and ADN Blogging Policy - 2.]


  1. Much as I miss Kathleen as features editor, she's going to bring a lot to her new position. She's definitely passionate about improving and expanding the ADN online experience, and about embracing new media to promote community involvement.

  2. It SOUNDS good..but as the secretary of a Community Council I just received the paperwork to begin a CC Blog! There's a two-page Blogger Agreement where you have to include your SSN, and a seven-page Terms of Use Agreement written primarily in legal-ese. Small wonder no CCs have signed up yet.

  3. Thanks CC Sec for that info. Can you forward me a copy of the contract? There's an email link in my profile (click "View My Complete Profile" in the right column above Blog Archive.).

    I think your comment about the contract clarifies my gut reaction to how the ADN has gone into this. The staffers - like Kyle Hopkins, Sean Cockerham, Lisa Demer, et al - are excited about the possibilities that the web allows them like posting the tapes from the trials, longer background stuff, the immediate posting of breaking news, and of course the comments from readers. But they need a lot more resources to do it. They've done an incredible job on the trials so far, really showing what this can all do.

    But the management, while it seems to know that this is what everyone thinks is the future (if printed newspapers have a future), doesn't have the same grasp of what it all means.

    Your comment about the contract fills in a missing piece. No one who would want this to work and had a clue would ask people to sign a seven page terms of agreement. So, they either don't care if it works, or don't have a clue about how to make it work. Or there is a giant battle going on between the local newspaper management team and corporate finance and legal folks.

    And I'm guessing the terms of agreement give the rights to everything to the ADN and the liability to the bloggers. But I'd have to look at the agreement before I remove the "I'm guessing".

  4. Hi, this is Kathleen. Thanks to Steve for posting this. I am trying to get the word out and this sort of discussion is helpful.

    I hope I can clarify a bit. The blogger agreement we have with community bloggers clearly states that they own their blog including all rights, titles and interest. The agreement says that the newspaper owns the web site. We license the blog and ask for the agreement so we can publish on the web. No money is involved in the exchange, and therefore, we do not take social security numbers on the agreement. Whoever saw it on the form is correct, it is there, however, I cross it out. In the event we did pay a blogger, we would need that number for payment.

    Either side can cancel the agreement with 30 days notice.

    As for the terms of agreement, that is a document that every user of agrees to when they register to use our site -- to read and post comments. It is what is attached to the "I agree" button when you register. I sent it to the community council office and highlighted the request in it for civil discourse just because I wanted them to know we do ask commenters to be civil. This is not a special requirement for bloggers to sign, it was just an fyi in case they have concerns about the tone of comments they might encounter.

    My contact at the community council office is Jason Dowell. If any community council folks would like to talk directly to me, I'd be very willing to talk to them. Just email me at

    Lastly, this is a changing era in the news business. The notion of opening up our site to community bloggers is a recognition that we can't possibly cover all areas of interest to our readers, and also that there are members of the community very knowledgeable about areas in which reporters are generalists. Communities are forming around interest areas, and members can share a lot of good information with each other. This isn't a new idea. Two examples I frequently site are
    the Houston Chronicle's Chron.Commons, and the Bakersfield Sun's Baktopia site. There is a benefit to ADN for hosting these blogs -- if they generate audience, we can benefit from that. We also can point our online and print readers to them as they come on board, helping to make their existence known.

    I hope this is helpful. Thanks for the discussion, and the chance to clarify./ Kathleen McCoy


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