Friday, March 3

CONGRATULATIONS, HOUSTON CHRONICLE !!!

Forgive my delay in publishing well-deserved kudos to the Houston Chronicle -- the newspaper of America's 4th largest city -- for being recognized as the nation's top blogging newspaper ("by a mile") by New York University, which just completed a study of major U.S. newspapers.

As the Chronicle's Dwight Silverman explains:

Both our staff and reader bloggers understand that this is more than just about getting information and passing it on -- it's about engaging with readers on the things they care most about, in a way that's useful, human and even entertaining.

The readers who have embraced and participated in our blogs are also key. Each blog is its own community -- those who post comments do so because they care about what's being said. You folks deserve the biggest kudos, because without your participation, it wouldn't be the conversation that it is.

My own blog has been linked in the Houston Chronicle's online edition's Opinion section and despite the fact that I have taken issue with the Chronicle's editorial board from time to time. That shows me something. In addition, I have had the courtesy several times now of an e-mail exchange with Dwight Silverman.

Kevin Whited and Anne Linehan of blogHouston.net provide their customary insights -- a mix of accolades and suggestions for the Houston Chronicle's team -- on this award.

Kevin, as an example, writes:

The sheer number of Chron blogs, their consistent look and feel (including comments, a feature bloggers take for granted), the ease with which they can be found, and the fact that non-Chron folks have been asked to start blogs seem to be the drivers responsible for Chron.com blowing away their MSM competition.

I'm not sold on the extent to which the non-Chron bloggers add value to the Chron.com news enterprise. That's not to say they aren't potentially interesting, or that the Chron.com label/vetting process isn't useful in providing local blog readers some assurance of quality. But it remains to be seen whether those blogs will actually enhance the core news mission of the Houston Chronicle in some fashion that isn't clear to me now.

Speaking of the "core news mission," while my blog was volunteered, but disappointingly not selected, Dwight Silverman arranged for Houston-area bloggers who chose to stay put during Hurricane Rita to have their hurricane-related posts published by the Chronicle's online edition, as a way to give "citizen journalists" an opportunity to report on the hurricane's impact in their immediate geographic area. I thought that a terrific experiment and a nice nod to local bloggers. My own disappointment, I should add, was short-lived, as Michelle Malkin gave me my first link ever to her widely-read site for a post I wrote on Rita! (Take that, Dwight!).

Anyway, it's a credit to a major mainstream media publication to do something so out of the mainstream with the blogger community!