Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Blogging: The Times gets it

Until now, most of the mainstream media's attempts at jumping on the blogging bandwagon have missed the point somewhat.

By far the biggest and most ambitious such attempt was the launch of the Guardian's much-vaunted and much-hyped Comment is Free uber-blog earlier this year.

I don't want to diss it too much. It does provide a valuable aggregation of mainly very good commentary, and it does give people a chance to interact with Guardian writers in a way they didn't previously have.

But a blog it is not. For a start, it doesn't link out to other blogs, except those written by its own guest writers. Even when other bloggers post comments on there, they can't even use their own URLs, for instance.

A similar fanfare accompanied the entry of Trevor Kavanagh into the blogosphere. Unfortunately, he didn't update his blog for weeks and the last entry is currently dated 14th August.

To me, the Kavanagh episode was proof that great journalists don't necessarily make great bloggers any more than great bloggers necessarily make great journalists. Doyen of the Lobby he may be, but hardly "the blog the politicians fear."

The Daily Mail's Ben Brogan comes closer. He at least takes the trouble to update his blog most days, even though it too doesn't link out to other sites.

Much the same could be said of Sky's Adam Boulton and the BBC's Nick Robinson, although the latter blog does have the merit of amplifying Robinson's on-screen commentaries.

What none of them had done though was to provide a sort of "umbrella" service featuring both MSM commentary and the best of the blogosphere, a daily version of Tim Worstall's peerless "Britblog" round-up.

Thankfully, the new Comment Central blog from Times Comment Editor Danny Finkelstein (pictured) does exactly that, promising a return to the original spirit of weblogging - "logging the web, not my life."

This to my mind is the best national newspaper blogging initiative so far. Rather than an attempt to corral the political blogosphere under one newspaper brand like CiF, it is a genuine attempt to celebrate its diversity.

I wish him luck.

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