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The Trappings of Blogs

"Podcasting" may be the word of the year, but blogs made the impact.

This year saw a true rapprochement between journalism and the trappings of blogging: not only blogs themselves, but RSS feeds, comments and unmediated interaction between writers and readers.

Despite the disastrous Los Angeles Times experiment with an op-ed wiki, the Washington Post plans to enable comments after every news story on its Web site.

In June, former Los Angeles Times Op-Ed editor Michael Kinsley posted an editorial as a wiki, inviting readers to collaborate on it. But, instead of fostering collegial cooperation and the measured exchange of ideas, the page was overwhelmed with profanity and hostility, and the paper beat a retreat.

Nevertheless, starting in 2006, the Post will let readers post comments after every article on its Web site, according to Jim Brady, executive editor of WashingtonPost.com.

Brady is redefining the entire Web site to be more interactive and blog-like -- even if readers move off-site to read other pubs' stories.

"Our strategy is to make the site the doorway to the best of what's on the Web," he told the audience at the IDG Syndicate Conference in San Francisco.

Brady said that most comments on the paper's blogs have been well-behaved. The Post will emphasize responsibility -- and check every comment before it goes live.

Our spies overheard another interchange between a conference organizer and a speaker, which illuminates the conundrums of this changing world:

PR guy: We're going to limit the number of bloggers who get press passes next time.

Industry expert: Why?

PR guy: The exhibitors complained that they were wasting their time talking to teenagers with press passes. And then, we have to feed them.

Industry expert: Why were the teenagers there?

PR guy: Well, they have these really well produced sites ...

And here's still another sign we're in another bubble.

Overhead at the Syndicate Conference: "They called me an old-school Web guy!"



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