Bursting on the scene: a blog-based wire service



Forget for a moment about all the talk about the blurring lines between blogs and journalism - that's such a 2005 conversation - and consider last week's development:

A site called BlogBurst officially launched Tuesday after rounding up 600 eager bloggers and securing deals with a handful of prominent newspapers. The site plans to provide quality blog posts to newspapers, which can then publish the content on their Web sites or in their print editions.

Essentially, BlogBurst is the Web's first blog-based wire service, providing blog content to media outlets similar to the way the Associated Press provides articles.

"Our editors work with publishers to ensure they receive the best content from bloggers who have already passed our initial screening process," the site states.

Newspapers that choose to pay for the service will get a vetted set of daily entries from a select set of bloggers. Editors can then publish what they like and discard the rest.

BlogBurst hopes to provide topical blog posts that can supplement traditional newspaper content, including blog entries on travel, women's issues, technology, food and entertainment.

Bloggers, in turn, will receive broader exposure for their writing and are also promised links back to their blogs from the newspaper Web sites.

Whether any of this catches on remains to be seen, but the initial results look promising. The Washington Post, Gannett, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Houston Chronicle and the Austin American-Statesman are among the media outlets that have signed up for the service. If any of them find value in it, you can bet that other media outlets will quickly follow suit.

And widespread success for BlogBurst or a similar service is certainly not out of the question. Blogging and journalism have been entrenched in a symbiotic relationship for a few years now, growing more dependent on each other by the day.

Bloggers - who often love to hate the so-called mainstream media (or MSM, as it has derisively become known) - rely heavily on traditional news outlets to fuel their fires.

And newspaper editors - who often are too quick to write off most bloggers as unprofessional hacks - have embraced the act of blogging as a means to spice up their Web sites and attract new readers to their publications.

Despite a mutual mistrust, bloggers and journalists are proving every day that they are good for each other. The best bloggers write with a passion and perspective often lacking in staid and tradition-bound newspapers.

And the best newspapers boast immense resources, institutional heft and extensive daily audiences that today's bloggers can only dream of attaining on their own.

The benefits that the two camps can provide for each other is drawing them ever closer. And indeed, it's harder now than ever before to recognize where blogging ends and journalism begins. We're entering a world where journalists routinely blog and - now, with BlogBurst - bloggers may soon routinely get published in newspapers.

And while naysayers on both ends of the spectrum continue to grumble over blurring lines, such arguments may soon be moot.

The real question is: Are there any lines left to blur?


Listen to Troy McCullough's podcasts at baltimoresun.com/onblogs

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