The best thing that can be said about The Independent’s entry into newspaper blogging is that they are wasting very little time on it. Martin Stabe took a look just after Christmas and reached the conclusion that the paper’s “cringeworthy effort at blogging” needed sorting out.
He was almost too kind. You might have expected someone in Marsh Wall would have noticed his comments and made at least some effort to add a few posts. But no. The latest post, in the comedy section, is dated December 21 and promises a round-up of Christmas gigs after December 25.
It tells us a review of Ricky Gervais is on the main site and, then, fails to give a link to it. If this was some sort of subversive blogging joke it might be ok, but it is not. The home page of each blog has a blurb proclaiming that the paper is, “Proudly Independent by name and nature…” It is particularly sick at the top of the Sony Technology Blog which would look as if the content was dictated by the sponsor were it better written.
Each post has the same intro: “Welcome to Sony’s technology blog - the best way to keep up with the fast-paced developments in the digital age”. I can only hope that the most recent post, on December 18, is accurate and it is the “third and last posting”.
That would be merciful. The Environment blog has not been updated since they asked readers, on November 3, what they should be covering. Maybe the editors took a look at the comments which centred on whether global warming was written in the bible and decided enough was enough.
All this brings me my five tests for a newspaper blog: Does it do anything which cannot better be done in another section of the site?
Does it develop the paper’s interaction with the readers?
Does it gain a valuable audience? (A particular niche, readers who are new to the paper etc.)
Can you give the blogger sufficient time to blog successfully?
Have you chosen a writer or writers who have the aptitude to blog successfully? The tests are far from exhaustive but they should at least help editors to give the topic some thought before launching into anything like The Independent’s blog failure.