The small, light, fill-in blog

By Felix Salmon
October 21, 2011
Overheard, the new blog from the WSJ's Heard on the Street team; and Occupy Wall Street: The Wealth Debate, from Bloomberg Businessweek.

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I’ve been saying for a while that blogs are dead — certainly the one-person, one-voice blog, and also the big splashy expensive blog launched by a new or old-media company. Both I think had their heyday a few years ago. But as bloggish tendencies get incorporated into the broader news business, and as the sharing-and-linking part of the blogosphere moves to social media, something quite encouraging is happening: media organizations are finding it easy to set up small, light blogs which they’re not particularly invested in.

On the basis of 2=trend, I present to you: Overheard, the new blog from the WSJ’s Heard on the Street team; and Occupy Wall Street: The Wealth Debate, from Bloomberg Businessweek. Both are places where shorter-form quick hits can get published without laborious editing; neither are particularly important strategically; but both fill an empty niche in terms of their organization’s coverage in a cheap and effective manner.

This is a lot easier than having to re-architect the broader news outlet to make it more amenable to such materials. All websites have some kind of blog content, so if you need something fast, adding a new blog should be pretty easy. And it doesn’t involve lots of unreliable technology from outside vendors, either, which is always an advantage.

Well done, then, to the WSJ and Businessweek for seeing how blog technology is a good way of powering things which don’t need to last forever, or get lots of traffic — they’re just another part of the big package which the newsroom provides.

I doubt many people will bookmark either of these blogs, but that’s fine — individual posts will get shared socially and placed on the home page, the news will get covered effectively, and that’s all that’s needed. These aren’t throwaway microsites — they’re important to the broader function of the newsroom. But they’re also small enough to experiment and push the envelope with respect to voice and content type. And if certain ideas work well on these blogs, they can always percolate up to the rest of the site over time.

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