Or are we talking about a whole different ball game altogether? This could be a case of mistaken identity. Perhaps we mean online publications. A recent article by the Financial Times states that publications born online are the same thing as blogs.
The Huffington Post might have been started by Arianna Huffington with the explicit goal to inject ample doses of opinion in the immediacy of an online tool. According to FT:
These days, Ms Huffington and her partners tend to recoil slightly when the Huffington Post is called a blog. To them, blogging is merely the latest technology tool to transform the news industry -– just as cable television yielded CNN and the 24-hour news cycle. While that tool may be central to their success, their aim now is to expand the Huffington Post into a mainstream media business –- a path that other blogs are also pursuing as the once-fledgling medium becomes more professionalised.
Well, I'd like to have a definition of professional, too.
I have a different theory. I think that the editors of online publications in most cases started as bloggers and then applied what they learned through the interactive and first person experience to publishing the news in a format that readers (we) have come to expect.
That's not all. Unlike their traditional counterparts who over the years tended to blend more towards a middle of the road benchmark -- ending up like each other in many aspects -- I am seeing evidence that new media editors are less attached to benchmarking and more into experimenting. In fact, from the interviews I had the opportunity to publish so far here, it is quite clear that the strategy is to have a conversation with readers, in many cases to invite them to contribute.
See for yourself what some new media editors respond to very similar questions:
- Ann Handley, editor of the Marketing Profs
- Tony Hung, Editor of The Blog Herald
- Lynne Johnson, Editor of FastCompany.com
- Chris Baskind, Editor of Vida Verde Media/LighterFootstep.com
- Tim McHale, Editor of The Madison Avenue Journal
I always preferred interacting with the medium and the information put forth by contributing my ideas. Until the online medium matured -- in all its manifestations -- all we had was push and pull strategies, not a conversation. It was never a matter of pushing a button to vote. I already did that by pushing the "off" button on my TV until it never went on again.
It's not even about being heard anymore, it's about influencing the outcome by participation. New media editors are self publishers first because that is the only way to understand what it feels like to be in the conversation -- by joining.
[AdAge Media Family Tree and the 100 Leading Media Companies of the last 10 years (1996-2006). Separate rant to Ad Age: make your images available in a format I can use as a blogger to illustrate a point, I'll give you credit. I had to print screen, save, crop, etc. Then again, Ad Age is a traditional media property.]