Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Problem with Print Media Blogs

I've often criticized "blogs" owned by the print media (ie, newspapers) as not being in the same category as "traditional" blogs written by individuals. For one thing, editorial policies that rule these "media blogs" often do not allow readers to "look under the curtain" that news organizations place around the news.

Another problem, which I have often noticed with media blogs, is that they tend to write about the same topic at the same time! You can see this graphically by accessing PharmaMarketingNetwork's Pagecast, which I maintain.

The following was recently captured from that page:

At the time these images were captured, Wall Street Journal Health Blog and Pharmalot -- the two most popular print news media blogs in the Pharma Blogosphere -- simultaneously had these as their top posts. This happens often.

A similar phenom can be seen in the evening network news programs on TV. You can flip through the channels and see the same story running at the same time on all three networks (you can also see the same drug DTC ads running at the same time on all three networks!).

The WSJ Health Blog got some criticism at a recent meeting of the Society for Scholarly Publishing (see this post). WSJ Blog author Scott Hensley admitted that "some in the audience grumbled that the way we do things — a generally news-driven rather than an opinion blog — isn’t bloggy enough for their taste." He also called attendees "Egghead Editors and Publishers" and the "brainy bunch," which generally are derogatory terms meant to put smart people in their place, if you know what I mean. Yet, Scott claims that his blog "is building a community of smart readers." Seems to me, Scott, you can't build a community of smart people and insult the whole class of smart people as "eggheads" at the same time.

Of these two blogs, I like Pharmalot best because I get Ed Silverman's -- the author's -- personal point of view on the news. With the WSJ Health Blog, I just get the news -- which is fine if you want a Cliff Notes version of the WSJ's printed health section.

Pharmalot is also more creative, especially with its use of graphics. Hey, WSJ guys! Get with the 21st Century -- it's a colorful world out there. You have to break out of the B&W etch-a-sketch portraits that your print brethen are so proud of. Maybe Mr. Murdock will read this and bring some color to the WSJ front page and to the WSJ Health Blog too!

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