The editorial in the current issue of Savannah’s own Business Report and Journal is so far off base when it comes to business blogging that it is embarrassing.
Business Report and Journal Background
Since many of you are not from Savannah let me give you a little background here.
The Business Journal & Report is a local weekly business newspaper. Like most business papers they report on stuff they feel is of interest to business owners and managers. Their coverage includes promotions, appointments, significant charity events, local politics where it intersects the business world, and the like.
They do have a website, which we’ll talk about at length in a little bit. But basically they are a traditional small town print media weekly business paper.
We get a copy in our mailbox each week. I think it comes complimentary with my wife’s membership in the local Chamber of Commerce. But I never paid that close attention.
As most of you know we had Un-Conference ’07 here in town about a week ago. I saw a representative from the Business Report & Journal there. I facilitated a session (and I’m a little vain) so I actually looked through the paper when it came yesterday to see what they had to say about the conference.
What I found was an editorial. Fair enough. Let’s take a look.
Oh, wait. I can’t give you a link.
They don’t put their articles on line until about a week after the print version comes out. And even if it were posted it would be hiding behind a paid subscription barrier, so all you would get is this page here which claims the web version is free. Well, free to all print subscribers. I thought if you had to pay for something then it wasn’t free. But maybe I’m missing something here.
Anyway, I seriously considered scanning the editorial in and giving you a PDF version of it to read for yourself. But I don’t want to trample on their copyright.
So I’ll leave it to them to figure out how to get their message out to a broader audience.
But I will give you a couple sentence excerpt that comprises the second paragraph. It will be enough for our purposes here, I think.
The recent “Unblog Conference” in Savannah was educational as local business attendees expanded their knowledge about blogging and the terminology of this new world, and shared ideas, strategies and tricks in play in the blogging world. It was also, hopefully, a bucket of cold water and strong reminded [sic] for both businesses and local journalists in attendance that the blog universe is a world of no integrity, no control, no rules, and no ability to authenticate WHO the blogger really is, in most cases.
OK. Lets for a moment set aside the insulting nature of the editorial. It goes on for 9 more paragraphs in much the same vein.
And lets not not get hung up on the typo or the fact that they got the name of the conference wrong. [Note to the Business Report & Journal: Your fact checker should be a little more attentive. People like it when you get their names right.]
Lets instead look at the substance of the editorial. Basically it’s this: Bloggers are charlatans and opportunists with no morals or integrity. It will be bad for your business if you become one. Instead stay with a trusted an ethical print media journalist like we have here at the Business Report & Journal.
The truth is bloggers are generally very easy to track down and authenticate. Their home is the internet, a world of freely shared information that is accessible to all and therefore available for everyone to research and determine what the author is all about.
Whereas the print journalist has the ability to hide behind the masthead of a paper and write editorials in the name of their publication without signing them if they choose.
My theory sounds good. But could it be that bloggers are really much harder to track down and learn about than traditional print journalists?
Lets look at some facts, poke around at Google, and see what we come up with. We’ll compare and contrast their web site with SuccessCREEations to see whom we can learn more about.
As a baseline, a quick check of their whois info shows that their domain, savannahbusiness.com was created 9 years ago on 18-FEB-1998. Contrast that with successcreeations.com, which was created on 18-AUG-2006, or a little less than 6 months ago.
Just to warn you, it won’t be a fair comparison. You might be thinking that it’s because my domain is only 1/18th as old as theirs. But I mean it won’t be fair for them. Comparing a blog with a traditional web site never is.
Let me demonstrate.
Fun With Google
Most people these days who are looking to research something start by throwing the term into Google or one of the other search engines and do a quick search to see what’s out there.
So lets say I happen across their news paper, see an article that interests me, and decide I want to learn more about the paper. If I’m like most folks, I’ll Google something like Savannah business report and journal. Sounds reasonable to put the title of their publication in to learn more about them, doesn’t it?
Only in this case you won’t find their site in Google that way. There are links and references to them. But I went as deep as 40 pages into the search and did not find their domain listed once.
Perhaps that is too general a search. I mean the words in their publication title are fairly general. Let’s narrow the search a little and see if we get better results. This time I’ll Google Savannah “business report and journal” so the quotes force it to return those words in that order.
Ah. It does narrow the search. I get about 100 items returned. But not one of them is for their domain.
Who are these people?
Well. Let’s try a different approach. I’ll Google their domain savannahbusiness.com directly. That always works.
But not this time.
Not one entry with their domain at least 10 pages into the search. I find it puzzling. How can a domain be 9 years old and still be virtually invisible to Googgle? They index everything eventually.
I’m not having any luck verifying who they are or authenticating them here.
I did find this blog post by a reporter from our local daily newspaper complaining that the Business Report & Journal had plagiarized some of his copy, I guess in the same current issue we’re talking about. He was polite, though, and said they “repurposed” it.
What happens when we try our searching with this blog?
Google chris cree successcreeations and the very first item returned is the home page of this blog. And then you get more than 100 links in a row that are either for a blog post I’ve written, someone referencing a post I’ve written, feed bulletin sites, or someone writing about me or my blog.
A person could spend days going through all that information about me if they wanted to. And they’d come away with a pretty good picture of who I am.
When we Google just the domain SuccessCREEations.com the blog still comes up as the first entry. And then you get hundreds of other references to it.
But say we make it a bit more challenging. I mean my domain is pretty unique with the way it is spelled. I did that on purpose. But perhaps that is a little unfair.
If we Google just my name, Chris Cree, what happens?
That way SuccessCREEations is no longer the first entry. Now it’s the third, behind my (much neglected) personal blog and a radio show episode featuring another Chris Cree, who is a Master of Wine/56 Degrees. (You Go, Chris! I have no idea what that means, but it sounds impressive.)
But even so, 5 of the 10 entries on the first page are me. Pretty easy and good place to start if you wanted to find out more about me or verify who I am, don’t you think?
As you can see the editorial is way off base.
The vast majority of bloggers are very easy to track down. Because all of the information is out there, freely accessible to everyone there is an inherent self policing mechanism in place. If someone puts something goofy in a blog post (and anyone reads it) the information is out there, available for verification or rebuttal.
Are there unscrupulous characters out there blogging? You bet. Just like there are in just about any walk of life. There are bloggers who publish goofy, unsupportable opinions, attempt to hide behind a wall of anonymity, or try to pass of other people’s copy as their own.
But those types of people exist in print journalism too.
I am not a journalist. Never claimed to be.
But actually it appears that the truth is much easier to cipher out with where blogs are concerned than from traditional print media. How else do you explain how a blog that has been around less than six months can be nearly infinitely more findable than a professional media outlet’s web site that’s existed for 9 years?
As an aside look at the traffic differences between the two sites. Savannahbusiness.com has an Alexa ranking of 3,489,899. SuccessCREEation.com is currently ranked 84,845. Apparently our humble little one man blog is getting a bit more traffic too. (Probably because the blog is so easy to find.)
All that stuff combined makes the closing sentence of the editorial pretty much laughable.
If media companies use blog content without a sufficient sourcing process, we encourage the rampant dissemination of inaccurate information, encourage its expansion, and undermine our fundamental market position as an industry – that we are trusted for the news we print and post online.
[Note to the Business Report & Journal: Traditional media companies that are not adapting to the new technologies such as blogging are already loosing market share faster than a beach eroding during a hurricane. Those who refuse to improve their product soon may very well find they’ve washed out to sea and been replaced by some business blogger who comes along posting quality information.]
Blogging is not for every business. But when it is a good fit, and the tool is used skillfully, blogging can be a very powerful way to fuel business growth.
Like with every other part of your life, blogging is best accomplished with integrity. In spite of what the Business Record & Journal would have you believe, the charlatans and opportunists in the blogging world are most often quickly found out and thoroughly discredited.
Of course that is something which has not always been the case with traditional media companies…