Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'Chicago Tribune' Fosters Do-It-Yourself Blogging Community: The Paper's VP of 'Digital Stuff' Tells How the Paper Assembled 300-Plus Bloggers by Breaking Rules

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'Chicago Tribune' Fosters Do-It-Yourself Blogging Community: The Paper's VP of 'Digital Stuff' Tells How the Paper Assembled 300-Plus Bloggers by Breaking Rules

Article excerpt

IN AUGUST, CHICAGONOW, A network of more than 300 local blogs created by the Chicago Tribune, expects to celebrate not just its first anniversary, but also its first profits. At a time when services like Patch abound, allowing newspapers to outsource the seemingly daunting task of erecting a blogging community, the Trib took the do-it-yourself route.

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In an interview in Col. McCormack's gothic Tribune Tower, and in remarks to the American Society of News Editors, former Sports Editor Bill Adee--who now goes by the title of Vice President of Digital Stuff--tells how he built ChicagoNow by flipping journalism ethics rules on their head, getting White Sox fans to actually trust something from the owners, until very recently, of the rival Cubs and how it came to be that the Chicago Tribune now hosts the hottest hip-hop blog in Chi-town.

Why a newspaper should look outside the newsroom for bloggers.

"Look at certain topics that newspapers cover, like gardening. In the old days (five years ago), we all had gardening writers. But do you really have to be a journalist to give good gardening advice? I always think of it too from a sports view. We send 15 people to a Bulls game. Well, is that 12th or 13th voice from the newspaper really adding anything? Or is there someone out there who already has a community following him, who could offer something else?"

How the newspaper benefits.

"At the Tribune, we're here in a Gothic Lower, literally and figuratively, and we figured we would learn from the blogging community what they had learned."

Throw out the conflict of interest rules.

"We don't make our bloggers sign an ethics code, as we would with anyone here in the newsroom. For us, the very conflict of interest is what gives them their expertise. If we have a real estate agent blogging, they should disclose that, but generally people accept it for what it is, and decide whether to trust someone or not. …

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