Blogging and Newspapers, a Lesson in How Not to Brand and Market

Much is being made of my decision to ban bloggers from the locker room. To me its pretty amusing. In particular I find it amusing that there is a presumption that if a blogger works for a big company, they must be better. The logic extends to the conclusion that if only I would evaluate the different blogs and make a qualitative selection, then big newspaper bloggers would be chosen as among the best. Let me just say, that should I go that direction, that I find quite a few individual bloggers to be far better than those earning a salary to blog . In fact, some of those blogs are written anonymously.

Which leads to my firm belief that newspapers having “bloggers” is easily one of the many bad decisions that newspapers have made over the past 10 years.

Much of what I am about to say can be considered semantics, but guess what, marketing and branding are all about semantics and perception.

Consider this a rule in marketing that could be added to my Startup Rules.

Never, ever, ever consider something that any literate human being with Internet access can create in under 5 minutes to be a product or service that can in any way differentiate your business.

If you feel that you must offer this product or service as a means of “keeping up” or as a checklist item that you must have for competitive reasons, then do everything possible to brand the product or service in a manner that segregates it from the masses. Perception is reality. If you can leverage your existing brand to create the perception that yours is different from the masses in some meaningful way, then you must do everything you can to do so.

Creating a perceived differentiation can take the form of promoting better execution or quality of the product or service, or it may be something as simple as just branding it with a different name than the mass product or service.

Failure to do so will pull your brand down to that of the masses or elevate the masses to a position of being better able to compete with you.

A blog is a blog is a blog is a blog. The NY Times Blogs on their website are blogs. People who have blogs have a hard enough time coming up with a definition of what blog is. Potential or even current readers have no real idea of what the term blog reflect in terms of quality or content.

I’m sure the NY Times, like all major media outlets hopes that because it is branded a NY Times blog, that readers will have the perception and expectation that it will be of a higher quality than say, Blogmaverick.com .
That when readers actually read the blog, they will see that its of a higher quality than say, Blogmaverick.com. It may well be that some do. The marketing reality however is that there is a significant risk that they will not. That rather than assigning the brand equity of the NY Times to the blogs hosted, they will take the alternative path of assigning their perception of what a blog is to the NY Times, there by having a negative impact on the brand equity of the NY Times. That’s an enormous risk for any mainstream brand to take.

If I worked for the NY Times, or any other media company with any level of brand equity, I would have done everything possible to define the section of our website that offers ongoing as anything other than a blog. I would make up a name. Call it say…..RealTime Reporting.

RealTime Yankees: Catch in depth, up to the minute reports on the Yankees as only the NY Times world re known staff of Sports Writers can bring up

RealTime City Hall: The NY Times has more journalists covering the action at City Hall than anyone else. Catch in depth, up to the minute reports on NYC politics as as only the NY Times can.

Brand it RealTime. Brand it anything. Make sure you market it as having the characteristics unique to your staff that NO ONE ELSE on the net can bring.

if I were marketing for them, I would be doing everything I could to send the message that “The NY Times does not have blogs, we have Real Time Reports from the most qualified reporters in the world. Like blogs we post continuously , 24x7x365 to keep you up to speed, unlike blogs, we have the highest level of journalistic standards that we adhere to. A copy of which is available at…..” You get the picture.

I would also market it as an extension of the print version. All the news that cant fit in print. In the sports world, I think this is where main stream media really has dropped the ball. There is no shortage of speculation and opinions on the net. There is an incredible lack of depth when it comes to game and team coverage.

Maybe its my own prejudice as an insider. I would much rather read any article on 82games.com or even some of the stuff that John Hollinger writes (although I think that the PER stuff is meaningless, i like how he tries to go in depth to analyze performance) than the stream of consciousness riffs that we find on every blog, regardless of host.

When I see content branded as a blog, I’m probably not going there unless its via a link from some other source. If I happen to find my way to a given blog multiple times, Im probably going to subscribe to the RSS feed. Even the, I don’t ever consider a blog an authoritative source. I don’t ever expect that all sources were confirmed and facts were check. Regardless of who hosts it. That’s not a good thing for newspapers. They still have a chance to assign some level of authority to what they produce for their websites and calling it a blog is a huge mistake

Remember, there is TV , and there is HBO. A blog is a blog is a blog

59 thoughts on “Blogging and Newspapers, a Lesson in How Not to Brand and Market

  1. I don\’t think I agree with you Mark. I think you have to separate bloggers (the people) from blogging (the style).

    There are many legit, well known journalists that write blogs for their publications. Many have even switched to the blog full time. In those cases, the term \”blog\” really just refers to the style in which the article is posted and delivered.

    In most cases, it\’s still the same basic kind of article you would have read if the person was still a beat writer. However, now it is published in the \”blog\” format.

    The only real difference you tend to see is a little bit of the journalistic \”formality\” removed. Same integrity, just more casual in voice.

    On the other hand, I don\’t think you\’d want to open your locker room to any schmuck that claims to be a blogger. That would be insane.

    However, I think it would serve your team brand well to actually recruit NBA bloggers to come to games and be treated like main stream press.

    As someone with close ties to the NY Yankees media, I know this for a fact.

    If you go out and find the Mav\’s biggest blogger fans, and allow them to come work from the press box say…once a week, it can only do wonders for the team.

    Sports blogs have a huge influence over sports fans. If you get on their good side, it helps. You\’ll actually see an increase in ticket sales and non-game event attendance.

    Plus, you can make it a big deal in the mainstream press. If you were to reserve 4 or 5 press box seats exclusively for non-corporate bloggers, not only would they write good things about the team, the main stream press would have a field day with that story.

    As for main stream media blogs, you can\’t discount their popularity. They get read. The NY Times Cityroom Blog gets a ton of traffic, and there are countless others.

    Hey, if Dan wanted to do a blog, you\’d let him…admit it.

    Comment by Travis -

  2. To me the term blog is meaningless. What matters is if the blogger is a great writer. Ken Tremendous of FireJoeMorgan.com is a great writer (and it turns out he\’s a professional in Hollywood – he outed himself a few months ago). I would read him on the NY Times if they hired him.

    So I don\’t think there\’s anything wrong with newspapers and other media properties having blogs, per se. They just need to get better at identifying talent. Easier said than done, but not impossible. Writing is their stock in trade, after all. This is why Gawker is so good – Nick Denton has a great eye for talent and topics that will attract an audience.

    Comment by Derek Scruggs -

  3. This is ridiculous. The NY Times should have blogs. \”Real-time reporting\” connotes anonymous (or at least undifferentiated) authorship. Readers want opinions, perspectives, and new ideas. Blogs have an impression of not being professionally produced, which is one reason why people read them so much. They don\’t go through a corporate machine, and readers can get to the author\’s true intent more quickly. The New York Times brand fundamentally isn\’t about its professionalism as much as it is about its editorial quality — that is about integrity in pursuit of a story. Blogs can retain much of that quality even as they lose the corporate stain of a professionally-edited process.

    Comment by Yves -

  4. Oh, the irony! Yet another post poo-poohing the value of blog related content as compared to real media – from yet another self congratulatory blogger!!

    News at 11: \”Blogger says blogs add no value to a brand!\”

    The irony of this post, denigrating blogs as something \”any literate human being with Internet access can create in under 5 minutes\” that are unsuitable for creating a brand differentiation, coming from a clearly branded \”Mark Cuban\” \”Blog Maverick\” blog is just rich.

    Yes, I blog. Way long time ago, I studied journalism, and I decided that I never wanted to work that hard for so little pay. With blogs, I can publish opinion pieces (\”editorials\” for you old fashioned types) on my own schedule, without deadlines or some corporate nanny saying \”Oh, you can\’t publish *that*, they advertise with us!\”

    Are blogs reporting? Some are – some bloggers focus on contemporaneous reporting of events local to them
    Are blogs aggregators? Some are – many bloggers collect factoids and links, then present them as \”compare and contrast\” pieces.
    Are blogs editorials? Many are – individuals (such as myself) will analyse and opine about current events, politics, religion and news.

    A newspaper connected blog can allow a reporter (who should just gather and report facts) to expand into the arena of opinion and editorial. In traditional media, there is (well, was before Fox News) a strong division between hard news and editorializing. In blogs, that line is non-existent – look at the right wing blogs, which are usually long on rhetoric and thin on hard facts.

    But hey, I shouldn\’t have to tell you this stuff – you\’re a \”literate human being\”, right?

    Comment by Ravan Asteris -

  5. Mark Cuban – You are the one person on this earth that can possibly return the Pittsburgh Pirates to a competitive level. I know you wanted to purchase the Cubs for better bang for the buck but if the Buccos could ever return to prominence under your ownership, your standing in the sports community would shoot through the roof in my estimation…I don\’t hold out a lot of hope for the Pirates until someone with some serious $$$$ takes over the club and improves every aspect of their organization. What is it going to take to get a \’Burgh Boy like yourself interested in buying the Buccos?? Just wondering…Thanks.

    Comment by Mark Rupert -

  6. c\’mon mark, forget it !

    Comment by Cross Feng -

  7. Blogs are a hot topic right now. Since they\’re read more than newspapers, for a newspaper to start a blog (or whatever it really is…but attaching the term \’blog\’ to it) will bring immediate attention and readers.
    I think it\’s a brillant marketing scheme of NY Times to have blogs. The bloggers aren\’t the best writers, probably don\’t get paid a high (if any) salary comparable to a journalist, but it gives a new option for readers to give feedback and start dialogue.
    If a news source can utilize blogs for the overall benefit of their vision and goals — then I say go for it. more power to em.

    Comment by Ange -

  8. RealTimeMaverick.com? Right.

    Blogs are a medium, just like television, print, magazine, bulletin board.

    You\’re backpedaling, Mark, and it\’s embarassing. Just admit that you shouldn\’t have made a blanket ban on blogging simply because most bloggers today are amateurs. There\’s nothing wrong with journalists using the weblog format.

    I\’m sure newspapers laughed at the idea of television news just like television laughed at the internet.

    You sound so behind the times. You just don\’t get it, like those guys didn\’t get Broadcast.com when they asked you how many CD players you had.

    Comment by andy -

  9. You make a good comment about branding things differently than just another blog. The problem, as I see it, is that the journalists who keep these blogs are not operating under \”strict journalistic standards.\” Usually the term \”blog\” (whatever that may mean) is a perfect description of what these news sites are keeping.

    Take for example this http://blogs.reuters.com/photo/2008/03/12/this-one-is-worth-a-thousand-words/

    If the writer were using the high journalistic standards you might expect from Reuters, he wouldn\’t be able to say things like \”Such a potent image leaves very little room for any doubt. In such circumstances do we need to know the details of the dispute to have any doubts that what we are witnessing is wrong?\”

    My theory is these news blogs give journalists the forum to say what they think about a news piece without needing to be objective, while still functioning under the banner of a news organization.

    Comment by Gabe -

  10. Your point suggest a narrow understanding of why to publish using a blogging platform.

    The point of blogging is to start/contribute too a conversation. I would recommend that most/if not all newspapers need to find a good way to join in a whole series of conversations online.

    Comment by Nick Booth -

  11. You\’ve hit the nail on the head regarding the \”authority\” of blogs. I typically don\’t bother reading blogs because they\’re beholding to nobody but their own arbitrary journalistic standards. I recently clicked a link on my Yahoo homepage from the \”Science News\” section and it wound up being a blog hosted by a Baltimore TV station. I felt deceived. What I thought to be an article published by a journalist was little more than some person\’s science-like ramblings.

    To paraphrase Dirty Harry: Blogs are like assholes; everybody has one.

    Comment by Jim -

  12. Kudos for immediately revealing your biases Mr. Cuban. Managing perception is crucial to promoting any commercial endeavor. You were right about semantics (is a blog a post or a CMS?), but semantics are important even if they are often subjective. You\’ve also touched on the connotation of \”blog\” and all its derivative words. While I don\’t share your perceived scorn and overall dismissiveness, you highlight the need for bloggers to play a more active role in defining their craft.

    As with most things, it\’s easier to point out the negative rather than positive. But for you and other posters here who seem to balk at the mention of the \”b\” word, it\’s good to remember that language is a living, breathing thing. Words that once conjured images of pure hatred and disgust are now being used to empower. With input from the millions of online journalers, blogging\’s reputation as a legitimate social craft will continue to grow.

    Blogging is not always journalism, at least not in the traditional \”news\” sense of the word. But it can be. Or it can simply be about the opinions of one person at one moment in time. Unless a blogger represents himself as a journalist, news reporter, etc., questions of \”quality and content\” are best directed at the gatekeepers of media.

    Comment by Eric Blues -

  13. I have to agree with Mark. Just using the term blog is negative. When I think of blog, I think of old fat men sitting behind a computer wearing (let me check) red and black pajama bottoms and a tshirt, with grape jelly on it.

    But, I do think there are serious writers out there who also use the intenet. Lets use two football guys.

    Mark Mosley blogs for espn.com, I think everyone says he is a blogger, but he has access to players, breaks news, and reports from games.

    Mickey Spagnola is a feature writer for dallascowboys.com. He pretty much does the same as Mosley but just for the cowboys.

    Both do radio and some TV, but they both are primariy identified from the internet. Would Spagnola be allowed in the locker room and not Mosley? I think Mosley has already been asked to leave from one locker room.

    Anyway, I dont see such a big deal about the locker room, I would just like the press pass to be able to sit in in interview room and get some good baseline pictures for my blo…..website. How bout it Mark?

    Comment by Jim K -

  14. I\’m one of those old dinosaurs that still read the paper every day (yes, I confess it\’s the Dallas Morning News) and I read a few blogs although not every day. I must admit that until this issue came up I had no idea that the DMN had paid bloggers. I always thought of blogs as the personal musings of the blogger who had no other outlet for \”publishing\” his/her thoughts. It seems to me that if a newspaper is not willing to put something into print why should I invest the time to read it. If I want an opinion other than the DMN\’s I will find another source or another thought but to reference their web site for something that\’s not worth printing does not compute with me.
    Estimates are that there are over 100 million blogs, so your thoughts about branding and differentiation are right on.

    Comment by Mike Genette -

  15. I\’m lost.

    So if the NYT sent their \”RealTime NBA\” reporter to a Mavericks game they could go in the lockeroom. But if they sent their blogger, they will be out of luck? But, like you said, they are the same thing, so what\’s the difference?

    Comment by PC -

  16. Mark,

    As someone who also maintains a blog (not a very popular one, yet) I agree that anyone can churn out a blog entry in 5 minutes. I personally think newspapers (like NYT) have limited lifespans with the digital media of today, but they are much more likely to be killed by a CNN than by a blogger.

    That being said, I\’d much rather read blogmaverick than a NYT\’s blog.

    Comment by Mike C. -

  17. Erik wrote:
    33. Great post, I\’ve been saying this to my company and other friends in the actual media who blog for their paper\’s site, we need to separate ourselves from the people who are not actual journalists.
    I just wish Mark had bought the Tribune Company and instituted these rules on a major news org himself and the rest would have followed along. We could have used a 21st Century mind like his running the show for a major newspaper chain.

    I agree, and while the Tribune Co. isn\’t for sale anymore [just the ballclub they own and the beer garden they play at], the chicago sun-times is. Mark\’s \’21st century mind\’ could reinvigorate, resuscitate and restore the bright one, as well as possibly, the newspaper/news media business. C\’mon MC, you can get it at a bargain basement price!

    Comment by james -

  18. If I was the NYTimes, I would consider publishing their blogs in print form. the magic formula IS product/content+distribution+brand=money/wealth. One should not limit the distribution of their conent to the web or to print, or to any ONE medium, but integrate the multitude of distribution possibilities to get the content out there, develop the brand and make money/wealth. That\’s what it\’s all about.
    Laters, Mark.

    Comment by Markofanother -

  19. Will you allow real time reporters into your dressing room?

    Comment by Andrew Lockhart -

  20. Mark,

    At best, you\’re overgeneralizing. At worst, you\’re dead wrong.

    In Boston, where I live, there are two major sports-covering newspapers, the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald. Both do their best football reporting in their blogs (Reiss\’s Pieces and The Point After respectively) — which remains true even though your hometown paper stole Albert Breer from us. Albert Breer at the Herald and Mike Reiss at the Globe were young reporters at regional papers who actually REPORTED; at first, their only big-media outlets were their blogs. (Reiss later got hired by the Globe full time.) By way of contrast, Boston beat and national football reporters are typically gifted writers and controversial radio personalities, who\’ve done very little to differentiate themselves in the way of actual reporting for many years, unless it\’s to place phone calls to sources they first cultivated many, many years ago. (At that remains true even though Ron Borges was booted for plagiarism.) Jon Tomase, who is justly hated by Boston fans for his regular writing at the Herald, actually does a halfway decent job blogging for them as Breer\’s replacement.

    A distinction I think you\’re failing to draw is between:

    A. Any ol\’ blog that happens to run on a newspaper website.
    B. A blog written by actual newspaper reporters.

    The latter have the skills and access that would naturally differentiate the product.

    All that said, Boston major-newspaper basketball blogs are non-entities. I could hypothesize several reasons related to the specific nature of the sports, but this comment has gotten long enough already.

    Curt Monash

    Comment by Curt Monash -

  21. Mark
    I think you are a smart guy – you have a gross misunderstanding of what a \”blog\” is. It\’s a content management system. A \”blogger\” is somebody who uses that content management system.

    Granted: it\’s a cheap CMS – which means more people can use it – but it\’s still just a CMS.

    Imagine there were no computers – people had to take notes on paper. In that mock world – what you effectively said was: Anybody who uses sticky notes can\’t come into my locker room, I only let people who use yellow legal pads in.

    It just makes no sense.

    Comment by Digidave -

  22. Until Wetherholt and his ilk come up with a viable way to differentiate the professional credibility of one blogger from another, you folks will continue to be thrown together under the same umbrella.
    Cuban is tying to draw a line and set a standard…what\’s wrong with that?

    Comment by whatever -

  23. Mark,

    I normally agree with you–you truly have inordinate intelligence when it comes to marketing, and indeed being a \”maverick\”–and you\’ve been around the block where it concerns those with an \”insider\” perspective.

    However, in this case, I think many are missing the point. Blogs, except in certain cases, depending upon the source and context, often aren\’t meant to be hard news–they\’re meant to be editorial. Much in the same way there is (or should be) a distinction between hard news reports on television and often documentaries which stray into the realm of editorial–Michael Moore is a case in point. His films are editorial-often important editorial-but not documentary.

    Blogs in their most powerful form, as editorial, should be meant to reflect the individual perspective of the writer–and if the writer is good, he or she will support his/her
    perspective with facts–but it still is editorial, meant to reflect a particular view, and perhaps draw others in to a particular dialogue which the writer believes needs to be engaged–and certain issues addressed. And because of the technology, quickly and seamlessly posted with myriad technologies–computers, PDA\’s, cell phones, etc., where such posting is instantaneous.

    In our case, and in dealing with areas of the world where there is NOT freedom of the press, or freedom of information–which is a privilege which I think we often take for granted in creating either hardcore journalism or editorials–blogs are a necessary means of expressing the freedom of thought–and expressing the kind of passion we take for granted. In this, I think blogs are necessary components of the human dialogue. Editorial or not, it is a means of expression which allows others to often express powerful necessary perspectives and experiences which may not be read or seen otherwise. Sometimes it is the sole contact some have with the rest of the world when their country\’s press is controlled by the government, and they\’re having to surreptitiously make a case for what is actually happening within that country\’s borders. And in this case, blogs include not just writing, but photographs and video clips which wouldn\’t be seen otherwise.

    In these cases, blogging can be a powerful means–and ones many talented writers take seriously–in making a case for the rest of us getting our heads out of the sand and listening.

    In terms of \”hard news\” sources blogging–I agree with several of the posters here that some of the most powerful voices can be found on those blogs–most top media, if they\’re doing their job correctly, will not allow journalists to impose their feelings on readers when they\’re supposed to be reporting the facts. Blogging allows them to express their opinions freely and powerfully, giving another nuance to the news reported. But again, I think we need to make sure that we make the distinction between fact and opinion. All too often, in this era of Derrida-like deconstruction, the lines are fully and often gleefully blurred. People are forgetting that in making the distinction, each is incredibly powerful, and in its own way.

    And, too, I think we\’re in an important time in which we\’re being given an extraordinary opportunity to merge technology, creative capacity and thought–and not always for solipsistic reasons, though those can be interesting, too.

    K.J. Wetherholt
    Co-Founder / Board Chairman
    The Humanitarian Media Foundation (HMF)

    HMF Website: http://www.humanitarianmedia.org
    RdS/HMF MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/repansedeschoye
    RdS/HMF Blog: http://www.repansedeschoye.blogspot.com

    Comment by KJ Wetherholt -

  24. Many newspaper \”blogs\” seems to be populated by rejected column ideas, like a cute story about the writer\’s cat that would never get approved by an editor for print.

    Newspaper bloggers OUGHT to post what they know best: WHAT IT\’S LIKE TO WORK AT A NEWSPAPER. Get journalists blogging about the stories behind their stories. How they got (or didn\’t get) the interviews and photos. How they decide what to publish – or not publish – and the consequences of those decisions.

    Totally insider stuff, but who better to do it?

    Comment by Atwater Village Newbie -

  25. I had the same notion a few weeks ago — tired of trying to navigate the maze of expectations people had when they found out you used a weblog script to publish articles to the internet.

    http://occamsrazr.com/2008/01/30/im-no-longer-a-blogger/

    Comment by Ike -

  26. Mark,
    The Dallas Morning News bloggers differentiate themselves by their accessibility to players/coaches/owners and their accountability to journalistic standards. (At least that\’s how they tried to differentiate themselves until your new ANTI-NEW MEDIA rule)
    A college-trained, experienced, award-winning professional journalist like Tim MacMahon blogging is different from me blogging in my mom\’s basement in my underwear. There are professional bloggers (Tim MacMahon and amateur bloggers (me) just like there are professional basketball players (Dirk) and amateur basketball players (the middle-aged white guy, wearing a headband with a little beer belly and backhair sticking out the top of his tank top.) I am very disappointed you do not know the difference.

    Comment by MikeMc -

  27. Great post, I\’ve been saying this to my company and other friends in the actual media who blog for their paper\’s site, we need to separate ourselves from the people who are not actual journalists.
    I just wish Mark had bought the Tribune Company and instituted these rules on a major news org himself and the rest would have followed along. We could have used a 21st Century mind like his running the show for a major newspaper chain.

    Comment by Erik Carlson -

  28. Mr. Cuban,
    As usual, you provide good food for thought. I’m still digesting your rationales and info, but a question did pop into my mind while reading, and am not sure if you answered it, even if indirectly.

    Do you have plans to change the subhead or even name of your blog to something more brandable and tied to what you want to accomplish at this domain?

    For the most part, blogs are opinion; not news. If they’re news, they’ll point/link to a traditional/legit *news* source.

    Take care,
    Mike

    From MC: Mike, no plans to change anything. BlogMaverick is not a business. Its just something I do for the enjoyment. if you want to read, great. If not, great.

    m

    Comment by Mike Driehorst -

  29. I think Mark is grasping on this one. I worked for a Large Newspaper company for 6 years that had many successful blogs, which were created on templates that literally took 5 minutes to design. One such example is Scott Wolf\’s USC blog (http://www.insidesocal.com/usc/). This particular blog has exploded in site traffic, and branding and an advanced design had nothing to do with it. People go to blogs because they are interested in a person\’s voice or personality regarding their expertise. It is why I have been visiting this blog for many years, even though I dont agree 100% of the time!

    Comment by Tom Z -

  30. Mark,

    \”There is an incredible lack of depth when it comes to game and team coverage.\”

    I couldn\’t agree more. I pick up the local paper and turn to the sports section and get 80% opinion. I turn on the local TV sporting news and I get opinion. I can give an opinion. I can hear an opinion from any sports fan on the street. Blogs are the same way. I want coverage. I want to read about something that I don\’t have access to as a fan.

    Love the blog. Keep it going.
    Regards,
    Dan.

    Comment by Dan -

  31. Even more embarrassing is the use of the word \”blogosphere\” by respectable news organizations.

    Imagine if the Times decided to start a \” \’zine \” in the 1970s. This is the same thing….

    Comment by Joe -

  32. This is a great posting, and one that I have a few key views on. I went to a talk by Charles Gibson (World News with Charles Gibson on ABC) a few weeks ago (blog posting: http://adcomments.wordpress.com/2008/02/23/charles-gibson-and-abc/). My main takeaway from the talk (though he spent little time on th issue) was that traditional media really doesn\’t know what they\’re doing in the new media space… they\’re really trying, but they end up scrambling. Frankly, they would all benefit by not hiring bloggers to blog for ABC, but go out and cut a deal with one of the many great independent bloggers out there. Benefits are twofold: you get a \”real\” blogger, someone who has been blogging, without outside biases (one thing that would need to be addressed in terms of \”partnership\”) and you also ideally partner with someone that already has thousands of readers. You get a loyal readership to start out with and an expert blogger… I\’d say that\’s better than hiring some guy to write some stuff on your website and hope people come to you.

    So I agree, until traditional media figure out what the heck they\’re doing with bloggers, don\’t waste the space.

    Comment by Kate -

  33. I blog to advertise my professional and consulting interests. I also read a lot of professional journalism and other blogs. I\’ve come to be a sincere believer in Sturgeon\’s Law. Neither side has a monopoly on quality.

    If you are telling me that I should pay more attention to, say, Robert Novak\’s column than an intelligently written blog because Robert Novak is a \”professional journalist\” and gets paid to write his drivel, and the intelligent blogger doesn\’t, you\’re ignoring reality.

    I don\’t think that\’s what you\’re actually saying, but to suggest that all bloggers just spend five minutes on what they publish is ludicrous, too.

    As this is the first time I\’ve read any of your writings, I\’ll therefor cut you some slack. And since I don\’t follow sports, your discussion of locker room access by bloggers is totally lost on me.

    There are situations, though, where people are wondering about how to legitimately manage blogger access to publicly important information. An example is deciding about what the appropriate \”role\” should be for bloggers and other \”non-professional journalists\” in communicating with the public during crisis or disaster situations. The reality is that when crises or emergencies occur that citizens will communicate among themselves using the tools available to them; for authorities to ignore this reality is to ignore a possible channel for important two-way communications that could save lives.

    While I don\’t place \”bloggers in locker rooms\” on the same level as this, to dismiss bloggers or other social media related channels simply because they are not \”professional journalists\” would also be a mistake. (For more information on this topic see http://www.ddmcd.com/situation.html.)

    Comment by Dennis McDonald -

  34. Mark,

    A blog is not a blog — except to the extent that it falls within the technical parameters of such. A blog, technically, is a series of postings (of any sort) presented in reverse chronological order. Usually (99 percent of the time), blogs are open to comments from the public or from a select group of individuals.

    Nowhere in the definition of a blog are there references to editorial quality, accuracy or content.

    You wrote earlier this week, \”There are no editorial standards. There are no accuracy standards.\”

    Not true for all blogs: Newspaper reporters who blog do have standards because they are blogging for the newspaper which has strict standards on accuracy and editorial quality. Further, most reporters and editors who are blogging can write pretty well because of the nature of their job, and copy editors are generally available to look over blog entries for typos.

    Newspaper-based bloggers are not taking on the standards (or lack thereof) in the blogosphere except for the aforementioned technical definition.

    For newspapers, blogging is a well-guided effort to reach out to the community and connect with readers. My employer, the Newspaper Association of America, has case studies on this from the Spokesman-Review, The (Racine) Journal Times and more. In fact, several reporters have said they even get story ideas from the community participation that occurs on their blogs, which makes for better reporting.

    Further, its just one way (of very many) that newspapers are smartly using the Web to communicate and connect with the community. Blogs are a good way for a newspaper to truly differentiate the online offerings from the print product.

    Read more here:
    http://www.naa.org/blog/digitaledge/index.cfm?mode=archive&year=2008&month=3&day=12

    Comment by Beth Lawton -

  35. I agree with Rebecca, blogging isn\’t true journalism. Everybody can start a blog and write their guts on the internet these days.
    gr,
    Remco

    Comment by Afkicken -

  36. you really don\’t get it. \”a blog is a blog is a blog?\” do you read blogs? there\’s no way they\’re all the same. your position of denying access to all bloggers is ridiculous. let in the good bloggers, whoever signs their checks, and leave the rest outside.

    Comment by Ken -

  37. I find this absolutely hysterical that people are so up in arms about a so-called \”blogger\” isn\’t gaining admittance into a locker room. No offense or anything, but as a mother of three truly great kids…what kids aren\’t…I spend most of my waking moments trying to make sure they do not turn into gang members that infest my neighborhood, teaching my children what the consequences of drugs really are, enlightening them on what actually could happen to them if they give in to peer pressure and have sex before they are ready. You\’ll have to forgive me if you think I am over the top. My children are my passion and nobody is going to take their opportunity to grow, live, learn and dream away from them.

    There are far greater worries in the world today than to worry about one man not being allowed in a locker room of a basketball team while there are \”real\” reporters with credentials present. I have a friend who has battled cencer to the very edge of her life and come out of it all right. I know a woman who works two jobs because she wants to give her kids a chance to attend college. I see parents all over the world trying so hard to raise good kids and I see parents that gave birth to their kids and feel that they owe them nothing else…not even a self esteem. I watched in horror as my neighbor\’s son joined a gang and signed his life away while her other son is now wanted for murder.

    Yes, I think the reporters of the world should really concentrate on the goings on in a locker room!!! Give me a break media!

    Comment by Tammy -

  38. as the first commenter said, very incitefull (sic).
    you have great, innovative ideas. what would you do if you controlled a media company/newspaper or newspaper chain in a major market? maybe even the same major market where the top MLB team is for sale? You should really seriously consider purchasing Chicago\’s scrappy tabloid [and/or its affiliated papers]. I think you\’re one of only a few people in the whole country who could turn my, um, i mean that, company around.

    Comment by james -

  39. But Mark, \”real-time\” reports are not in. Blogs are because of the buzz, right? Then of course the media has to have them so they have their hands in the \”in\” media.

    Come on, if it is popular than it must be important, right?

    Comment by Ken -

  40. Good points in the posting. Would you be willing to offer a few thoughts on branding and attention via blogging for up and coming companies?

    Is that something that\’s qualities are largely defined by which blogger? (Such as you posting a positive for John Hollinger, which makes him look good, whereas a favorable posting from basketbawful carries much less weight.)

    Comment by Jon D -

  41. First, let me say that I totally agree with your assessment as far as the importance for corporate media outlets to differentiate between something called a \”blog\” and giving it another name within their online pages.

    And yet.

    It is oh-so you, Mark Cuban, to dismiss everyone who writes under a \”blog\” format and marginalize them.

    This is an incredibly presumptuous post —

    From a blogger.

    Named Mark Cuban.

    Therefore, the information you disseminate is not to be perceived as \”authoritative\” and by extension, not to be trusted.

    And with your position as NBA team owner and businessman, see how silly that reads?

    But.

    What could be authoritative about newspapers or Big Box sports media outlets that report news in a manner that largely serves their corporate sponsors and the ideology of the corporation owning the media outlet?

    Answer? Nothing. Nada. Nichts.

    What\’s a \”good\” sports blog Cubes? The gossip-filled link dumps that do the half-naked women thing at least a few times a week? Are they informational or do they just feed your – and all those who read them – inner frat boy (or sorority girl)?

    You know, the funny thing about your position as an \”insider\” is that you appear to be writing this not knowing that many \”authorities\” at corporate sports media outlets (some NBA writers, too) have their own —- GASP! —– blogs; under pseudonyms, of course.

    And the funniest thing of all about your anti-blog screed as is that if you check your local Roget\’s and look up the word, \”mediocre.\” Guess what word you\’ll find in the list of synonyms?

    Mainstream.

    addendum: your premise/hypothesis is faulty:

    \”Never, ever, ever consider something that any literate human being with Internet access can create in under 5 minutes to be a product or service that can in any way differentiate your business.\”

    You can create the blog form in five minutes, but the content contained within a \”blog\” is created over varying amounts of time.

    Just because you give the content a name like \”RealTime\” at, say \”The Mark Cuban Times\” the blog format itself that supports the content could be created in under five minutes. And if the content is good enough, it will certainly differentiate your business form others whose content is of lesser quality.

    Comment by DWil -

  42. Mark,

    You may have a point with all this blog stuff, but I think you badly miscalculated your response by taking this stuff public. Not many people even knew or cared that Tim MacMahon had a blog on the DMN website! In one fatal swoop you publicized the one person who was banned from the locker room. There was no fire, no one cared until you started the fire. All you had to do was ban him, not say a word, he might say something in his blog that a few people pickup on but you made the DMN and Tim MacMahon very happy by giving them free publicity. You of all people should know better.

    Comment by Jason -

  43. What you state is obvious to me. What is sad is that it is not obvious to more people. This is one of two blogs I read. The way I choose a blog is based on the kind of information and the way the person comes to the conclusions they come to. It is ridiculous that you could choose which blogs to allow in the locker room. s if you would WANT to blow that much of your time. On top of all that it would be like choosing which paper to allow inside. You would then have to deal with a whole different set of calls of favoritism. And then wouldn\’t it in fact be that by the very nature of choosing which to allow in to the locker room?

    I think the papers are lost and trying to get into blogging as a \”solution\” for declining subscriptions and revenue. They will grasp at anything they can.

    Comment by Bill Ross -

  44. Way to go Mark!

    I see that DMS has not read this yet. If they have, they would be writing negative assesments under different names every hour or so.

    Comment by Jeremiah Boughton -

  45. One example of a blog from a newspaper that works – is the blog for The Columbus Ledger-Inquirer University of Georgia beat writer, David Ching (ching-athens.blogspot.com).
    The guy is a journalist, follows the team around as a beat writer and writes stories that appear on the print/online paper daily. The newspaper requires him to have a blog, which he uses to post the overflow of information that he receives: interviews/Q&As that he didn\’t have space for on his daily practice Notebook, etc…basically the insider stuff that he could not use on the print versions of his stories (due to lack of space)…but usually without much opinion. He sometimes puts out links to the stories on the newspaper site.
    To me, that\’s something that has really worked. He\’s not giving out much opinion, but mostly the team\’s whereabouts, things that he couldn\’t fit on the print stories, and full interviews that couldn\’t make the cut – things that an average blogger could not do. And he posts frequently and does it well – well enough that his site is one of the most frequented viewed by University of Georgia fans (who like me sometimes even go the Columbus-Ledger site to view his stories even though we have no affiliation or live anywhere close to that relatively small town).

    Comment by aureliano -

  46. Newspaper blogs aren\’t simply another way to deliver the same content though. Real time reporting can and does happen across newspaper sites all the time. With or without them.

    The thing that differentiates blogs from other publishing platforms is _discussion_. That\’s why newspapers should be interested in blogging. Involve readers, build a community… all that stuff.

    Whether or not they brand it something else, shouldn\’t newspapers absolutely be blogging?

    Comment by Matt -

  47. I am really glad you wrote this post because normally I agree with you 99% of the time. I thought you were originally dead wrong on newspapers and blogs and now I understand the branding point. The benefit of a blog is not in what you call it but the tools you get with it. SEO, writing instant information, commenting, and builiding a community on the site and around the writer are really whats important for the newspaper. It would be real interesting to see if any smart newspapers try to coin a new word for journalism blogging.

    Comment by Joe M. -

  48. The problem with this whole thesis is the flawed assumption that bloggers are morons trying to steal something that doesn\’t belong to them. Utterly false. There may be a few who, in fact, are trying to do that, but it\’s quite ignorant to paint everybody with that broad brush.

    As a guy with 35+ years experience in traditional media, I can testify that just because a media company signs your paycheck does not make you bright. In fact, I\’ve met more intelligent, artistic, bright, funny, informed and interesting people via the blogosphere than at any time in my career with traditional media types. So, on its face, your argument suffers.

    Moreover, if the blogosphere is generally considered pejorative, it is so, because it was tagged as such by the traditional press, who, like you, feel somehow that these guys and gals are stealing something that belongs to them. That it isn\’t true seems to escape those who benefit from the \”us versus them\” view.

    As Upton Sinclair once said, \”It\’s hard to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.\”

    Frankly, you can ban whoever you wish from your locker room, Mark, and you don\’t need to defend your actions to anybody. If a few people are giving you crap about it, screw \’em, but please don\’t let this lead you further down the road of misunderstanding what\’s taking place around you.

    You\’re an extremely bright guy, Mark, but I gotta tell ya, some of the stuff that you publish here just makes me cringe.

    Comment by Terry Heaton -

  49. Mark,

    I understand your argument, but in the end, you are costing Tim McMahon a job. Mavs fans have expressed that they like reading the blog and gets people excited about the team. I think it is a bit of an ego trip for you this time. Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    Comment by Jim -

  50. How is blogging on behalf of a media outlet any different from live reporting?

    Agreed, I don\’t need any play by play from the Mav\’s locker room, but I really don\’t see the difference.

    Comment by Mufaka -

  51. A blog is a publishing tool. Period. Newspapers use them because they\’re in the publishing business. A blog is as credible as the blogger makes it. The fact that most early bloggers were not particularly credible does nothing, in my opinion, to prevent newspapers from developing blogs that are. It\’s all about the content. Whether you call it a blog or something else doesn\’t matter. A blog is a blog is blog, and if the information in it proves just as reliable as what\’s in the newspaper, people will come to trust it just as they trust the newspaper.

    Comment by Erik Rolfsen -

  52. Blogging isn\’t true journalism. Period.

    Comment by Rebeccalee Coventry -

  53. Your premise is that a \”blog\” is so different from other ways of delivering information that it cannot be used for journalism. I disagree. A blog is just a means for delivery — a publishing platform. Blog software is lightweight and easy to use, and it has built-in reader-commenting abilities. You can argue that hard news has no place in a blog, and you might have a point there. But it\’s the perfect medium for opinion/commentary journalism, and it\’s a great tool for reporters to dump out all the little tidbits they pick up that don\’t warrant full-blown stories.

    Comment by Russ -

  54. Agree with a lot that\’s in this post, and you\’ve really hit the nail on the head with your assessment of blogging as a completely commoditized market.

    That\’s why we\’ve created Bleacher Report (http://bleacherreport.com) as a clear point of differentiation to the sports blog. We\’re not a blog or a blog network, we\’re The Open Source Sports Network. And while Bleacher Report has some aspects similar to blogs, it also has many improvements on the blog, chief among them the filters for quality and reputation and the fact that every single article gets edited by a competent editor.

    Learn More here: http://bleacherreport.com/about

    Comment by Dave Nemetz -

  55. I feel that what differentiates newspapers from the masses is the fact that they have greater access than the general public. Newspapers have talented people, for sure, but there are plenty of talented, smart, insightful people not employed by newspapers. And many blog for free.

    So yes. Part of what gives the newspapers their advantage is their greater access. Newspaper reporters get to attend news conferences. They get to ask questions to politicians, athletes and celebrities.

    So does a newspaper blogger have an advantage over any other blogger? Yes…because of accessibility.

    Except with the Dallas Mavericks.:-)

    Comment by SongMonk -

  56. Couldn\’t agree more. Bloggers are they EBAYERS of media.

    Comment by MeNoLikey -

  57. I never pay much attention to the blogs on those kinds of big news sites. You just hit on the reason why, which I never thought about before.

    A NY Times blog? Is there any way these big news companies could wave their virtual arms a little faster, as they are jumping up and down screaming, \”Me too! Me too!\”

    Not that I\’m judging the content, I\’m not. The message of a newspaper blog is just lost on me. Why not just call them columns. Isn\’t that what reporters used to write? Or articles?

    What exactly a blog is, I won\’t pretend to be able to answer. In my mind though, it evolved from the need for \”everybody else\” to have the ability to publish, whether that be individuals or companies who wouldn\’t previously have had the ability to put content out in any amount, on any schedule they desire.

    The big publications already had this capability, so what\’s the point with the blogging?

    Comment by NJ Web Guy -

  58. A few weeks ago, you posted something about it being better for the music industry to release singles rather than full albums. Do you think there is any chance independent musicians will start putting out singles via blog style post? Blogs are easy to create and manage. It would be easy to use a credit card processing service to receive payment and this would give listeners an easy way to give feedback to the music.

    Also, will this blogging boom come to an end? or will it continue to grow? It seems like there are so many pointless blogs out there with poorly written content. Still though, everyone deserves a chance to have a voice.

    Comment by Gregory Rueda -

  59. What a hugely incitefull post.

    I\’ve always wondered why a big chunk the masses lock onto the idea of blog, blogging, to blog and all the negative connotation that comes with that. When in fact a blog is a dynamic technology, a media construct and tool that should be used and presented so the unique value added it affords a business becaomes part of their own unique branding or calue added to their audience.

    Businesses that position their use of this technology in unique ways will most certainly stand out from the 99% that\’s merely jumping on the latest hype bandwagon. I think for the 50,000 new blogs that enter the stream every 45 minutes, the majority would be hard pressed to give a clear and accurate definition of what the hell it is that they think a blog is, or even what they\’re doing with it that helps their business.

    Comment by MIchael -

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