Friday, February 29, 2008

Death by blogging

I will start this with my favorite post from a blog at Cincinanti.com/Enquirer.com/CinWeekly.com. It's from the CinSpin fashion blog, about a store at Rookwood Commons called Dr. Mojoe:
Now what has the doctor prescribed? He's giving you the chance for a speedy recovery from your fashion fever and style sickness with huge savings up to 75 percent off men and women's fall/winter merchandise (that's denim by Diesel, True Religion, Chip & Pepper and so much more). Feel better yet?
Kill me. Kill me please.

This is the problem with too many of the blogs on those sites. They take someone who likes to wear clothes, and make him a fashion blogger. They take a bunch of people who like to eat food, and make them food bloggers. They take someone with a NetFlix subscription, and they make him a pop culture blogger. And the bloggers try to be hip and funny, but they rarely are. They're just amateurs, and too many of the Enquirer blogs are written by amateurs.

Here are the top 30 blogs under the Enqurier umbrella for the week ending Feb. 23. They are ranked by number of visits. I also add a comment or two, and check out the number of comments posted.
  1. Reds Insider, 64,422 visits. Grade: A. I have said before that I regard John Fay as a must-read. He writes well, and breaks news on this blog. Last June, however, the blog by C. Trent Rosecrans of the Post was drawing traffic equal to, and sometimes better than, Fay's. And it looks like anyone who had Rosecrans's blog bookmarked is being redirected to Fay. Comment traffic is heavy.
  2. Politics Extra, 26,996 visits. Grade: B. Traffic should be higher, because this can be a very busy blog. There were eight posts on Feb. 27 alone, by seven different people. But this also can represent what's bad about newspaper blogs: They can be sloppy and unfocused.
  3. Bengals, 22,461 visits. Grade: C. Mark Curnutte isn't as good as he thinks he is. Comment traffic is weak compared to Fay's Reds blog. This might seem an unfair comparison since football is out of season, but the NFL has really become a 12-month sport, so the comment traffic should be better. Curnutte has learned to stick to football and leave politics out of this.
  4. UC Sports, 18,469 visits. Grade: A. I think Bill Koch is underappreciated. His work in the paper is good, and this blog is good. Comment traffic is heavy.
  5. NCAA Hoops Blog, 14,654 visits. Grade: B. Dustin Dow covers Xavier and writes this catch-all blog about NCAA basketball. Why does the Enquirer have an NCAA blog when they don't have NFL or MLB blogs? Comment traffic is heavy.
  6. Television, 13,818 visits. Grade: B. John Kiesewetter belongs to a group that is heading toward extinction: the local TV writer. It's a pleasure to read John, though he sometimes talks too much about Cincinnati TV 30 years ago. The comment boards are especially worth reading, because they appear to be written by people in the local TV community.
  7. Paul Daugherty, 11,999 visits. Grade: C. I can't grade his blog well because I don't like Daugherty. I don't read him in the paper and I don't listen to him on the radio. He can be good, but he's often not, and it's because he's lazy (or spread too thin, because of the radio work). Moderate comment traffic.
  8. High School Sports, 11,146 visits. Grade: B. I'm not into high school sports, but the breadth of the blog is good. Comment traffic is weak.
  9. N.Ky. Politics, 6,516 visits. Grade: B+. Good traffic, and Patrick Crowley owns Northern Kentucky. Here's a headscratcher: Though the number of visits is about a quarter of that of the Politics Extra blog, Crowley's page views are better -- about half the Extra blog's, which is out of proportion. Why does the one-man show do so well?
  10. BorgBlog, 3,614 visits. Grade: A. I'll bet Jim Borgman didn't pick the name of his blog.
  11. The Foodie Report, 3,098 visits. Grade: D. I get a headache reading this blog. It's a mess. Surely they've heard, "too many cooks spoil the broth." Blogs work best when there's a unified voice, and especially when written by a single person who knows what he/she is talking about. This blog claims six contributors. Aside from critic Polly Campbell, they're all amateurs, and it shows in the low quality of the posts. Traffic should be higher considering the subject is eating, something people do three or more times a day. Comment traffic is moderate to light.
  12. Art, 2,428 visits. Grade: B. There's lots of pictures, and lots of news about activities at local galleries. I heard an interview on the radio with a woman who writes a blog about migranes for the New York Times. That's right, migranes. That's an example of the kind of narrowcasting that news sites can do, appealing to a specific audience with a strong focus on a subject, and that's what the Art blog is. Comment traffic, however, is weak.
  13. Life of Brian (Pop Culture), 1,597 visits. Grade: F. Awful, a complete waste of time. "One man's on-going rant" should be a personal blog and not part of the Enquirer's web site. This guy isn't even a reporter. And pop culture should be a lot more than (mostly) movies.
  14. Classical Music, 1,379 visits. Grade: C. I love Janelle Gelfand, and the content is good, but this blog gets very little traffic and no comments.
  15. P&G, 1,346 visits. I'll give Keith Reed a break because he's so new. Traffic is low and there are no comments. But it's surprising to me that this is the only Business blog. Just goes to show how far the Business section has fallen in recent years.
  16. Roller Derby Diva, 1,177 visits. Grade: B. I don't know why the Enquirer has a roller derby blog. The good thing is this isn't taken seriously. I think it's knee-slapping hilarious that this got more traffic than the Forum blog. That's probably because Lauren Bishop is way hotter than David Wells.
  17. Today at the Forum, 1,165 visits. Grade: F. What a fucking joke. It ranks behind the awful Life of Brian, Classical Music, the P&G blog by the new guy, and the Roller Derby Diva.
  18. Pig Blogs: Emily & Lindsey 762 visits. I won't grade this one. This is one of three CinWeekly blogs about the Flying Pig Marathon, written here by two best friends preparing for their first marathon. Since I don't like to run .... About 30 comments posted, and from the looks of them, runners are tuning in. It appears this is the top-ranked CinWeekly blog.
  19. Popography, 738 visits. Grade: D. Looks like this used to be the CinWeekly staff blog. Two of the last five posts are "Throwback video of the day." A waste of time. Only one comment posted.
  20. "cincinnatiblogs_spring ", 520 visits. As far as I can tell, this is the old designation for the Post's Reds blog by C. Trent Rosecrans, and it now redirects you to Fay's blog. C. Trent's new blog is here.
  21. Soundcheck, 491 visits. Grade: D. This is little more than pictures, links to videos, dates and times of shows. No comments posted. Sad. There's a wide open space for a good pop/rock music blog in Cincinnati, but this isn't it.
  22. Pig Blogs: Ben, 485 visits. I won't grade this one either, but his blog entries are very very long. About three dozen comments.
  23. "cin_blog ", 481 visits. I couldn't figure out what this is, but it gets more traffic than "Cincytainment." It might be the main blogs page.
  24. Footnotes, 445 visits. Grade: ??. This was Greg Korte's blog, but there hasn't been a new post since September. It's not listed in the menu of blogs. And still, it ranks 24th.
  25. Pig Blogs: Dean, 426 visits. I will grade this one: B. Dean appears to be a serious runner, and his expertise enhances the blog. He loses points for the too-long Daytona 500 entry. About two dozen comments posted.
  26. Cincytainment, 419 visits. Grade: D. Another weak blog with a bad title by a rank amateur.
  27. CincyMoms blog, 323 visits. No new entries since September.
  28. The Last Word, 285 visits. Grade: C. Where CinWeekly readers submit guest "editorials." But they are not editorials, more like reflections on life. If you want to write, get your own blog.
  29. Campbell County Connects, 256 visits. No new posts since Feb. 7.
  30. "cincinnatiblogs_staffblog", 241 visits. It appears this traffic is redirected to the Popography blog.
Note that there's a big drop in traffic from Fay at No. 1 to Politics at No. 2, then another big drop between No. 9 (N.Ky. Blog) and No. 10 (Borgman). And there are other blogs that don't show up in the top 30, like Tangeants & Tollbooths, CinStages Buzz and CinSpin; they rank lower than blogs that are inactive or for all intents and purposes extinct, which is pretty sad. There's a lot of effort being put into a lot of blogs that aren't paying off. The Enquirer also clearly favors some blogs over others for promotion; they should work on their promotion efforts, but the Enquirer has always been weak in that department. And the CinWeekly blogs, for the most part, suck. No surprise there.

Clearly, blogs won't save news at the Enquirer. The numbers are too low. Sports dominates the top 10. It's surprising how low the numbers are for the arts and entertainment blogs, and CinWeekly isn't helping.

A big problem is that the Enquirer is fighting with one hand tied behind its back. Will John Fay ever link to a story by Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News? Not likely, but Lance McAllister will, and so will Redleg Nation and Red Reporter. The point is that if you want to be THE Reds blog, you have to connect to all things about the Reds. Without that, you're just boxing yourself in, limiting your appeal and your growth. If I only read one Reds blog each day, it won't be Fay's, because I know that Redleg Nation will link to anything important.

If the Enquirer is serious about blogs, it needs to get rid of the amateurs, support the good blogs that get traffic, and boost the good ones that don't get such good traffic. And it's critical it find some formula for boosting the news and features blogs. The Politics Extra blog has about 10 people contributing at different times, including two editors. The traffic needs to be better to justify that level of effort.

16 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You give Fay way too much credit for both his writing and his blog. He seldom sheds new light on the Reds and last summer's Homer Baily frenzy was nothing short of embarassing. I don't want the surface details, I want the background and the behind the scenes stuff. Fay just doesn't serve that up and his institutional knowledge of the game appears superficial at best. The home of baseball deserves more.

5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NewsAche, CincyMoms has a TON of traffic and posting... When you open the link, you gotta click on "Talk", it opens up like a mushroom cloud...
It is really a nice blog--a nice community of Moms...

6:45 PM  
Blogger Jim Hopkins said...

Wow! Great work. How'd you get the traffic stats?

7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, John Kiesewetter's blog is comprised pot shots from local media members for the most part. The posts are just way too focused on specifics for them to be the fodder from an average viewer or listener. And, frankly, does the average Joe really care?

For the most part, the only people who are passionate about rating and reviewing the local media (electronic, print or otherwise) are the local media themselves. Consumers have too many choices to care about our gripes.

9:08 PM  
Blogger OrangeD00d said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree with many of Newsache's comments. Foodie should be limited to Campbell if it is to exist at all. What reader cares what staffer got to have dinner with their S.O. last night or lost an ounce of weight? Pop culture blog is pure laziness, and it shows in the lack of comments.

11:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I realize the Theater Buzz... is near the bottom, but Jackie Demaline is certainly passionate about her beat. She's a quality theater critic, and she's also great about responding to reader e-mails with tips on shows here and in other cities.

10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I realize the Theater Buzz... is near the bottom, but Jackie Demaline is certainly passionate about her beat. She's a quality theater critic, and she's also great about responding to reader e-mails with tips on shows here and in other cities.

10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Foodie is terrible, although it once was good. Basically all they chat about are a handful of pricey restaurants, eating dinner with their "S.O.," and way too much vegan/vegitarinan talk. The blog is a great idea, there really isn't a good source for the 'epicurious' in Cincy, but they need better contributors. I hope the editors see your blog post and our comments!! Thanks!

3:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The idea that several vegan/vegetarian skinny girls who eat tofu and lettuce are "foodies" is laughable. Please, Enquirer, kill this blog.

11:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John Fay is mediocrity at its finest.

Ditto for the shit storm that's called Cincymoms, but should be called "How the Enquirer hopes to make a buck online."

It's a bunch of desperate housewives trying to communicate with someone other than a 2-year-old. It's certainly not a blog, Anon.

Cinweekly is so irrelevant I can't imagine they'd even bother to take the blogs down. I doubt any Enquirer editors even know they exist. Do Enquirer editors even know Cinweekly exists?

If you're going to read one Enquirer blog, read Borgman's.

9:34 AM  
Blogger gerard said...

Too bad about Korte's blog. He had some really good posts.

12:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree on several points, Newsache...save one. It's a typical misconception of a reporter to assume that anyone who isn't a reporter shouldn't be allowed to write on a newspaper website. Some of the best blogs out there are written by these "amateurs". What counts is passion, quality and frequency - not press passes. What the Enquirer needs are bloggers with TIME.

7:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, I'm just a schlep. I like the Enquirer blogs.
I like Foodies, CincyMoms, Television, Classical Music.
I actually like the way the various ladies chime in on Foodies.

I don't know, perhaps I am mentally defective--I just like this stuff...

7:16 PM  
Blogger ctrosecrans said...

my traffic was by far the heaviest on cincinnati.com -- no one came close to the numbers i put up last year when we were both being counted. i lapped everyone else

--ctr

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the beauty of blogs is that they're not written by professional journalists. The ones who write the foodie blog in particular come across as a bunch of girls in a high school cafeteria, which is fine if it isn't written under the Gannett masthead. Why don't they just drop the blogs all together and leave the blogging to the amateurs. Perhaps then they'd be able to focus on writing a decent paper.

10:40 PM  

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