Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Could recession prompt a blogging boom?

I found myself wondering today whether one possible result of the recession could be a boom in blogging.

This is not based on any concrete facts, just a handful of phonecalls and emails. But I have noticed a slight increase in the number of random people approaching the paper in the last week or so asking about the possibility of writing for us. By random, I mean people without any journalism background or qualifications.

The numbers are still too small to amount to a trend, but it would make sense - if you've just been laid off, or think you might be about to, writing might seem like an attractive second career (if you haven't done your research about the state of the newspaper industry, that is).

Given the chances of getting paid work at a local newspaper this way are very slim right now, I wonder how many will turn to blogging as a way of showcasing their work instead. I'll certainly be suggesting they start doing so for us.

If it does happen, it will be very interesting to see how local newspapers react in areas where there hasn't been a strong blogging presence before. Will they become a real threat? Or will papers and their websites be able to embrace them at the beginning, to everyone's advantage? Here's hoping it's the latter.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Let it snow, let it snow

Okay, so my new year's resolution didn't get off to the best start, but better late than never.

I'm blogging today because I've been struck by how today's incredible weather events have really shown how newspapers can take on - and outdo - TV and radio in covering breaking news.

The last time I experienced snow like this was during the Big Freeze in 1987, when I was very small. My memories may be getting a little mixed with the hurricane of the same year, but I can remember my mum tuning to the local radio to try and catch news of whether my primary school was open. There was also fairly comprehensive news there on transport and all other weather-related goings-on. But - you had to wait patiently through all the inane phone-ins to make sure you heard the news relevant to you.

Today, long before the schools opened, we had a first draft of school closures online - and our readers were helpfully adding to it before our scattered skeleton staff could. So I think newspaper websites win hands down there.

I lived in a town with a thriving daily newspaper, but I would be surprised if it managed to get its edition that day out to all the newsagents it usually did. However today, we had fairly comprehensive coverage online within a couple of hours, including readers' pictures and videos - as well as the equivalent of a week's letters pages by the end of the day.

I know I'm not saying anything new here - it's just that today really brought home the huge strides online journalism has allowed local newspapers to make in the last 20 years - and in that sense, the future looks bright.