Columnists at Confab Hail Blogging

By: Dave Astor

Newspaper blogs often get little or no editing, but a speaker at a National Society of Newspaper Columnists conference session here wondered if that would continue.

“In terms of blogs, we’re in the ‘Wild West’ days. But many of them will be edited in the future, I’m sure,” said Kansas City Star columnist Bill Tammeus, who does a blog on faith-related issues — and likes “the freedom of not submitting stuff to editors.”

Other benefits of blogging? Tom Regan of The Christian Science Monitor noted that bloggers can decide how often they want to add new posts, and they can make those posts short or longer. “I don’t think you need to update every single day, but it should be frequent,” said the blogger. “If you enjoy doing it, you want to share things with your audience.”

“You don’t have to write about everything,” said Sheila Lennon of The Providence (R.I.) Journal. “You can just link to something instead.” But Lennon likes to update frequently, and likes the “constant feedback” from her blog visitors.

Maura Welch of The Boston Globe is another person who updates her blog early and often. “It’s a huge job,” she said. “I wake up at 5 a.m. and start blogging. But I really enjoy the independence of the job I do.”

Still another benefit to a blog? Getting an audience that extends well beyond the newspaper. “Only 10-15% of my e-mail is from Providence Journal readers,” reported Lennon. “Google sends me many of my readers.”

And blogs can be a place for columnists to promote products such as books, said Tammeus, who’s retiring this weekend after 36 years at the Star. But he plans to continue doing his faith-related Star column — and his blog.

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