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My blog has one problem: Britney Spears

December 13, 2006

Today I was reading one of the newest additions to my blogroll, Mike Cassidy’s blog at the San Jose Mercury News.

Britney Spears = attention getterCassidy and I have been discussing the various methods of attracting attention to our new web logs.

He found out that just mentioning Robert Scoble‘s name on his blog got him a wave of traffic. Scoble is the author of Scobleizer, the top tech blog on WordPress, and one of the top bloggers in the world.

He even interviewed Scoble, which Scoble blogged about, and that began a wave of traffic to Mike’s blog.

Also, Mike asked for opinions on his new blog and suggestions for names. Asking for the opinion of the collective masses is a sure-fire way to get comments and raise interest. We may go a similar route here at Lancaster Online, when our blog product is introduced, and open up blog-naming contests to the public.

(For the record, I have heard nothing about my “Open Mike” suggestion…)

Then, on a recent blog post, he gave me a shout out. (or is it “type out” in a blog? Ack…I’ll never get that straight…)

He is going through some of the same struggles I’m experiencing in trying to find direction and audience:

I’ve heard those who say I should figure out one narrow topic that I want to write about and write, write, write. I see the logic, but I’m a generalist at heart. I’m going to press on writing about what strikes me and suffer the consequences — at least for now.

I haven’t actually stooped to the Paris Hilton strategy that I wrote about in today’s Mercury News column. (Unless I just did.) But I have learned it really works. Or at least a variation.

Got a note from Corey Clayton, the online journalist with the Lancaster (Pa.) New Era who produces the Hard Drive Life blog.
He steadily built up traffic for the new site, hitting about 500 readers a day. Not bad, he says.

“But then I wrote about the three words that have been abuzz on the Net.
Britney. Spears. Naked.
I was very hesitant to go down this road, considering the potential for taste issues.’’

But hey, Clayton explains, he was only writing a post about an Associated Press story that covered the uncovered subject. (An update from the Bloomington Pantagraph. That’s Pantagraph.) News is news, right?
Yes Mike, News is very-much-so news. No matter the flavor.

I’m sure more in the country knew about Britney Spears’ recent “unveiling” of her privates four times to photographers than knew about the Holocaust denial conference going on in Iran, which many of the speakers have called for the death of Israel and America. So why not give it four times the coverage?

Another internal debate I’ve had about my blog is from the journalism ethics perspective. Should I be posting about stories that I feel should be covered because of their journalistic merit and importance? Or should I be covering stories for reasons many other bloggers do, to sell advertising and make money for my employers?

Right now, I don’t face that dilemma while blogging on WordPress’ site (doesn’t allow for ads), but it will come later once the blog moves to Lancaster Online.

I’m wondering how other news site bloggers handle this issue. I guess it’s based on whether or not the task of blogging is part of your everyday job assignment or whether it’s considered an “above-the-call-of-duty”-type of thing. Or is it something you sort of get around to when you can?

And as technology advances and newspapers venture further into online products, I feel that blogging will be as commonplace for writers as working your assigned beat and churning out leads for the copy desk.

But, I think we’re not there yet. It might take some time.

Hopefully, as new journalists come out of college abuzz with what’s possible to create for the Web (podcasts, videocasts, blogs, interactive chats, you name it…), it’ll give our industry the kick it needs to embrace change.

And I firmly believe the advertising revenue will be there to support a well-done online product.

Lohan, Spears and Hilton: time to take a break

OK, ranting on ethics over… now, back to Britney Spears.

Just looking at the hits my blog has had in the past 15 days, almost 80% (53,000+ hits) is due to Britney Spears’ “crotch watch” coverage and coverage of the so-dubbed Spears-Paris Hilton-Lindsay Lohanaxis of evil.”

So, I’m taking the proverbial bull by the horns. I’m ending my Britney Spears’ watch coverage until her privates decide to do a repeat appearance.

Sorry, but there’s other news more deserving… (BTW…did you hear that IRAN will have NUKES soon???)

I want to thank all the readers from Digg, Netscape, Reddit and Delicious that have found my blog and I hope you’ll still stop by on occasion as I cover all the buzz online and in the news.

Meanwhile, the Britney Spears’ crotch watch will get its own special section in my blog’s menu bar, waiting… like a dormant virus … to be reborn!

And to Mr. Cassidy, thanks and good luck to you on your blog. We’re all in this together.

MercuryNews.com | 12/12/2006 | Cassidy: My blog has one problem: everything

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One Comment
  1. Gorilla Guys permalink
    December 14, 2006 5:07 am

    Hey Corey,

    We took a different approach @ The 800lb Gorilla. We kind of used Britney as a billboard to drive traffic to us – on purpose – on the chance that some of those visitors will like the “real” content and want to visit regularly.

    Call it Gorilla marketing.

    Anyway, it worked. Our blog stats have gone way up. We’re expecting them to come back down, but hopfully it will level out higher then before we “utilized” Britney.

    No matter what happens, it will have been worth it just to see the search terms people use to find the Britney pics. Very funny.

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