Thursday, March 13, 2008

Cuban: Blogging is papers' worst marketing move

Leave it to Mark Cuban to lay it all out there succinctly.

In this case, the topic is newspapers and blogging. The situation is Cuban's refusal to allow a Dallas Morning News blogger access to his Dallas Mavericks locker room.

As Cuban writes on *his* blog:
If he is correct and blogging is part of the base job of being a beat reporter, thats a sad commentary on beat reporters. They get 500 words in a story about a game or event, if readers are lucky. If there is excess time, I would imagine that time could be spent offering indepth analysis and access rather than throwing up hundred word commentary on a blog. If there isn't space in the paper, then in depth analysis that takes advantage of the minimal marginal cost of publishing feature stories, IMHO, would be a far better use of a beatwriters time and serve as a far stronger differentiation that would attract readers.

Instead , we get bloggers from mainstream media. Newspaper blogging is probably the worst marketing and branding move a newspaper can make. The barriers to entry for bloggers are non existent. There are no editorial standards. There are no accuracy standards. We bloggers can and do write whatever we damn well please. Historically newspapers have set some level of standards that they strived to adhere to. By taking on the branding, standard and posting habits of the blogosphere, newspapers have worked their way down to the least common demoninator of publishing in what appears to be an effort to troll for page views.
Gee, and the industry was just getting used to the idea of this blog thing, which dozens of digiterati (and your humble correspondent) have suggested is something they really ought to consider. Chuckle, chuckle ...

Cuban followed up with a post today expanding on his thoughts:

The logic extends to the conclusion that if only I would evaluate the different blogs and make a qualitative selection, then big newspaper bloggers would be chosen as among the best. Let me just say, that should I go that direction, that I find quite a few individual bloggers to be far better than those earning a salary to blog.

Which leads to my firm belief that newspapers having "bloggers" is easily one of the many bad decisions that newspapers have made over the past 10 years.

Much of what I am about to say can be considered semantics, but guess what, marketing and branding are all about semantics and perception.

Consider this a rule in marketing that could be added to my Startup Rules.

Never, ever, ever consider something that any literate human being with Internet access can create in under 5 minutes to be a product or service that can in any way differentiate your business. ...

If I worked for the NY Times, or any other media company with any level of brand equity, I would have done everything possible to define the section of our website that offers ongoing as anything other than a blog. I would make up a name. Call it say.....RealTime Reporting.
Read more. I'm sure he'll take more than a few incoming rounds from the usual quarters. But, you know, he has been kind of successful in this marketing stuff ...

(SPJ, of course, has jumped in to protest. Judging from the comments on the DMN's blog, however, the morning line is at best even on whether people care.)

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At 3/14/08, 9:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a good discussion - I have to agree and disagree with Cuban. While I see his point - I think the newspaper blogs need to be more about the process than the story. I like to read "the rest of the story" stories.


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