Here’s what the problem is with newspapers establishing blogs.
Whining about traffic in the city? Check. Posting pictures of yourself as an urban poseur in Bono sunglasses? Check. Talking about “Friends,” reality TV, celebrity dating and other critically under-covered facets of American culture? Check. And yawn.
Living in Chicago, there’s a lot of Chicago blogs I read. Gaper’s Block. Archpundit for local politics. The Redhead Papers. Truth Girl. And the Chicago Tribune has a couple that don’t completely make a funnel noise. I love Charlie Madigan, and Eric Zorn is much funnier and less willing to take crap from people on his blog than he is in his columns.
There’s a reason why all those bloggers are good. They can write. Especially Madigan, who has cred as a writer and editor on his own, and Redhead’s Erin, who’s funny and bitchy and unabashedly mean to the large contingent of stupid living in this fair city of ours. These bloggers can write and they also offer me something different, observations I can’t get from the deliberately Middle of the Suburban Strip Mall paper and the wit and wisdom of Entertainment Tonight.
The Daily Herald is a local suburban paper and they do some good stories, but they’re not using this blog to promote those stories or add to them in any way. They sent a reporter to India a while back to report on immigration from there to the north ‘burbs; a good blog would contain things like “why we did this story” or a travelogue from the reporter to supplement the story. It would be unique to the paper itself, rather than being something I could get anywhere: A bunch of twentysomethings blathering on about sports and pop stars and traffic and (unlike Erin, who covers some of the same territory) not even being very funny about it.
This thing reminds me of the latter days of the dot-com boom, when people were getting venture capital to start up things like portals for breakfast cereal and places to order pet food online. It’s a use of the medium that takes the least possible advantage of all its benefits. It’s a blog so the paper can say it has a blog, not because there’s anything to say.