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Why blogging is better than writing newspaper column

January 12, 2007

Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune asks ‘Why blogging is better than writing columns?’ Came up with more reasons it’s better than not.

Why blogging is better than writing columns?

  1. It offers immediate access to readers. In these highly-wired, highly-interconnected days of miracle and wonder, it’s an advantage to be able to publish your work the minute that it’s good to go, rather than waiting for the ink to hit the paper and the paper to hit the porch.
  2. It’s highly interactive. Blogging offers the opportunity to engage with, learn from and argue with a lot of smart people in a public forum (comments).  Columnizing tends to be more or less a one-way proposition: I write. You read.
  3. No deadlines. You publish when you’re done, not when the clock (or your editor, in a panic) tells you you’re done.
  4. No fixed length. Each idea gets exactly the amount of space you feel it deserves. No more. No less. 
  5. You never need to stretch and pull and chew and stammer and repeat to get to 700 words, nor do you need to trim and tighten and cut and omit to come down to 700 words.  And with hyper-links, you can send readers to other places that provide deep background as well as supporting and contrasting information.

  6. It’s correctable. Make a mistake in blog entry — anything from a typo to a bald misunderstanding of something obvious to everyone else… and you can fix it quickly, minimizing any damage or misunderstanding.
  7.   Errors in print have a mortifying life of their own.

  8. It allows you to use audio and video content to supplement your entries.

Why writing columns is better than blogging?

  1. Deadlines. The reality of not having any deadline while writing a blog is that every hour, every minute, seems like a deadline. 
  2. Limited competition.  The universe of ink-on-paper newspaper columns that are vying for readers’ attention in Chicago on any given day is manageably small. The standard for laying a claim to a portion of the time of those readers is therefore lower than it is the blog world, where every person at a terminal in Chicago has instant, free access to (conservatively) hundreds of very talented, very insightful commentators.
  3. More readers and therefore more impact and more money. Writers want to make a difference, and to achieve this (and to earn their keep) they must reach a sizable audience that advertisers want to reach. 

Eric believes columns still trump blogs because more readers mean more revenue. For the time being that may be true. But Eric’s newspaper writing is going to get closer to a blog than vice versa. And the fact that citizen journalists, even lawyers covering niche areas of practice, are even mentioned in the same breadth with newspaper columnists is amazing.

Eric’s comments follow his appearing on a panel presentation on blogging with University of Wisconsin Law Professor Ann Althouse. Says he felt like a complete slacker.

So would I. Ann has posted entries on her blog every single day since she started in January, 2004. She’s a heck of blogger – from a legal, social and personal level. And she’s from Wisconsin – that says it all.

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