Is Mark Cuban reading his blogs in binary?

Really, I won’t dwell too much on Mark Cuban in the future. I only pick on him now because I normally enjoy his blog and he’s written two blog-themed entries lately, and he sounds eerily like a lot of misguided journalists in writing them.

So normally I’ll leave him alone, but his follow-up to his previous much-discussed post needs to be picked apart, too. And I’m in a snarky mood, so I’m going to channel Ken Tremendous and go Fire Joe Morgan style on this one.

Whaddayasay, Mark?

Much is being made of my decision to ban bloggers from the locker room. To me its pretty amusing. In particular I find it amusing that there is a presumption that if a blogger works for a big company, they must be better. 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 . In fact, some of those blogs are written anonymously.

Let’s rename “newspaper bloggers” to “journalists hired by news organizations with long-established credibility.” Then you can realize that it’s none of your business to decide in which medium we’ll report.

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.

This should be fun. Oh boy, he’s about to say something in bold. I bet this is the money shot:

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.

I just drew a picture of some mountains. Metropolitan Museum of Art, you’re screwed.

Then I made myself a sandwich. All restaurants within 20 miles of me immediately closed down.

A blog is a blog is a blog is a blog.

No it isn’t.

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.

And the motto could be: “Journalists: We’re so much better than you. We’re going to do the same thing the rest of you lowlifes do, but we won’t lower ourselves to your level by calling it the same thing.”

RealTime Yankees: Catch in depth, up to the minute reports on the Yankees as only the NY Times world re known staff of Sports Writers can bring up

RealTime City Hall: The NY Times has more journalists covering the action at City Hall than anyone else. Catch in depth, up to the minute reports on NYC politics as as only the NY Times can.

Brand it RealTime. Brand it anything. Make sure you market it as having the characteristics unique to your staff that NO ONE ELSE on the net can bring.

I’ll almost sort of agree with that. There are plenty of newspaper blogs out there that have truly unique content, but they don’t do a good job of showing why it’s unique, or marketing itself as such. I’ve seen way too many newspaper Web sites where the staff blogs are jumbled together with the community blogs. Credibility is the most precious commodity a newspaper reporter has in any medium, and it ought to be fully leveraged.

So now we’re on the same page, Mark. It’d take something really stupid for me to start critcizing you again…what’s that you say?

If I were marketing for them, I would be doing everything I could to send the message that “The NY Times does not have blogs, we have Real Time Reports from the most qualified reporters in the world. Like blogs we post continuously , 24x7x365 to keep you up to speed, unlike blogs, we have the highest level of journalistic standards that we adhere to. A copy of which is available at…..” You get the picture.

“Journalists: It’s ridiculous how much better than you we are. We talk, you listen, and you’re gonna freaking like it. We wouldn’t even let you read us if we could figure out how to make money without you.”

I would also market it as an extension of the print version. All the news that cant fit in print. In the sports world, I think this is where main stream media really has dropped the ball. There is no shortage of speculation and opinions on the net. There is an incredible lack of depth when it comes to game and team coverage.

Having a blog with depth = good. Having a depository for all the crap that wouldn’t be interesting in the paper but for some reason would be interesting online = bad.

When I see content branded as a blog, I’m probably not going there unless its via a link from some other source. If I happen to find my way to a given blog multiple times, Im probably going to subscribe to the RSS feed. Even the, I don’t ever consider a blog an authoritative source. I don’t ever expect that all sources were confirmed and facts were check. Regardless of who hosts it. That’s not a good thing for newspapers.

And here we get to the core of Cuban’s fundamental misunderstanding of blogging.

Blogging is a medium. There is no inherent set of rules, or lack thereof, in blogging. Blog A is very different from Blog B and Blog C. You just can’t make any kind of assumption about blogs as a whole.

Cuban seems to be reading blogs as though they’re written in binary; apparently, they all look pretty much the same to him. He has apparently not taken the time to evaluate how one could be more credible than another — a skill all the more important when you’re reading blogs.

Ooooh, a final burst of boldface:

They still have a chance to assign some level of authority to what they produce for their websites and calling it a blog is a huge mistake.

Separating newspaper Web sites from where the rest of the conversation is happening on the Web would be a much bigger mistake. Not embracing the overwhelmingly dominant medium for conversation on the Web would be a huge mistake.

A better idea would be to lend what newspapers do well — credibility, accuracy, unceasingly high standards — to the medium that the people have chosen.

  • I checked my blog’s stats this morning and saw a couple hits coming this way, I’m glad to see you setting Mark Cuban straight regarding bloggers: None of our blogs were created to be equal.

    It’s good to see that working for a newspaper hasn’t turned you into a complete “3rd person drone”…Keep up the fine work!