Within the last few weeks I listed out what I thought were The Five Best Media Blogs in Boston as well as The Five Worst Media Blogs in Boston. Again, these were only sports blogs that are operated by a Mainstream Media outlet. At a future time, I might do a “best of” for independent sports blogs in around Boston as well.
I thought we’d spend a little time today looking at how the news outlets can improve their sports blogs. They’re almost all relatively new to this whole blogging thing, while I’m about to hit my sixth year with BSMW, making me a grizzled graybeard in the blogging world.
Here’s three things I would suggest to the operators of those blogs:
1) Categories. Feeds. Make More.
I discovered something interesting in my reading habits. I’ve found over the last couple of seasons that I subscribe to the RSS feeds of some blogs only during the offseason. Why is that? Well, during the season, I find that there is just too much content to keep up with, and much of it, I’m not interested in. This is especially true during games. It’s not unusual to come back to my computer after a game and find 20-30 posts from during a game in my feedreader from one of the blogs. I just watched the game. I don’t necessary need all those updates. So I’ve found myself actually unsubscribing from some feeds during the season because there is just too much information coming through that I don’t always need.
It would make sense to create some categories in the blogs, and then feeds for each of those categories, as well as the main feed that contains all posts. Some sample categories might be “Game Updates” “Practice Reports” “Breaking News” and “Transactions.” This way the reader can pick and choose which feeds to add to their reader. They’ll still have the option of adding the main feed which brings them all of the posts.
The reason why I subscribe to the feeds in the offseason is because I don’t want to miss a story. Usually when a post happens in the offseason, it’s something of interest, a trade, a free agent signing, or a player being cut. During the season, there’s just too much to keep up with sometimes, and chances are I’ve probably heard it already on the radio or watched it on TV.
2) Don’t Post Your Column In The Blog, And Vice-Versa
Some of the old-timers out there still haven’t quite gotten used to the whole blog concept. I can understand why, they’re writers, not bloggers. When given blog duty, they’re not sure what they should be putting in there. Write a whole story? But then what do they put in their story for the paper the next day? It feels to them like they’re doing twice as much work, or diluting their hard copy story by posting it in the blog first.
Here’s the answer: For the most part, these sports blogs aren’t the place for long, rambling reports or stories. They’re quick-hit items. Things of interest that you might be seeing and observing while putting together material that will be in your main story the next day. There are some exceptions. Bob Ryan’s blog, for instance, is a place for him to weigh in on a topic that perhaps he didn’t get to write a full column about. But in general, if you’re posting to your outlet’s blog, keep it light, relaxed. Share some observations, some thoughts you might have as you work. Keep the deeper stuff for your story.
3) Its OK To Acknowledge, And Even Link To The Competition
The competition between the outlets is slow to die, after so many years of going head to head for the readers. However, in this day and age, most of the fans are reading through all the material out there, so you’re not going to lose readers as long as you’re continuing to put out quality information.
So if your competition happens to have a great story, or perhaps breaks some news first, its OK to link to them. By mentioning or linking the other site, you’re showing that you’ve got the best interest of your readers in mind. You want them to know that you’re interested in making sure they have all the news and information that they need.
It also shows that you’re not so insecure so as to think if you send a reader to another site that you’re going to lose them forever. Linking is what really made the internet what it is today, but I still see examples on MSM blogs where they won’t name the source of another story, let alone link to them. To the reader, this is frustrating, as they want this information, and now you’ve made them go out and look for it on their own rather than helping them find it.