December 15, 2003

Blogs in Iraq? Get Me Rewrite

The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash., has led the still small parade of newspapers that devote part of their staff time to blogs. Beat reporters for the paper publish at least a half-dozen blogs on the state Legislature, movies and health, as well as special-top blogs on the Vatican and the war in Iraq.

It is fitting, then, that the Spokesman-Review became perhaps the first paper to apply one of journalism's most hackneyed conventions - the reaction story - to one of its most promising developments - citizens using blogs to report the news.

Fortunately for the Spokesman-Review, when its editors got the idea for a blog reaction story - exactly the type of story editors assigned in the mid-'90s about the Internet (Let's see how it's playing online), they turned to Ryan Pitts, an online editor for the Spokesman-Review, and a contributor to The Dead Parrot Society blog,

Here's how Pitts described the conversation:

"The news editor for our print edition just walked up, while collecting his thoughts on our coverage of Saddam's capture. This is a guy who's worked in newsprint since the hot type days, and I'd like to paraphrase what he just said to me: 'Are you guys collecting anything from bloggers today? I'm not sure how much space we'll have, but it would be cool to run something in print.'


"And of course I told him that absolutely we'd pull together some blog stuff for print. In fact, I'd already planned to pitch a compilation of posts from Iraqi bloggers. And the news editor said: 'Wait. You mean there are bloggers ... in Iraq?'"(Emphasis added)

Pitts pulled together a story (read it here) that not only reported the voices of those Iraqi bloggers, but, says Pitts, opened the eyes of some old media editors to the potential of new media.

"Print journalists," he says, "were tossing around the term "blog" like it was old hat. News editor, city editor, executive editor. Everyone. Also very cool."

Very cool indeed.

 Spokesman-Review Baghdad bloggers celebrate Saddam's capture
 Dead Parrots Society A newsroom conversation

Posted by Tim Porter at December 15, 2003 07:03 AM

Thanks for the kind words, Tim. I was very pleased at the reaction this story got from print editors.

Posted by: Ryan on December 15, 2003 12:04 PM

We'll be at an even dozen blogs (not counting the "retired" blogs) very shortly, as soon as we launch our Idaho legislative blog. And there are several others being developed.

Posted by: Ken Sands on December 16, 2003 07:45 AM
Post a comment