Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Harry Potter and the Driver of Traffic



So "The Naked City's" transformation into the Potterblog has been highly successful, and I'm loving the content.
Reminds me of one cynical definition of a leader: Find out where the crowd is going, get in front of it, and say, "Follow me!"
In this case, I love where the crowd is going.
But as we focus on driving traffic, the old journalism ethics still apply: Just getting out in front of the crowd and giving them what they want can skew our coverage. One comment at the potterblog reflects this, but with bitterness.
"Congrats, Mary. You've gone from an active blog with 90+ posts discussing important issues that affect those who live and love Charlotte to one of hundreds of blogs that blather on about a book.
Why?
Is this part of the 'dumbing down' that the Observer (and most of McClatchy media) is doing? You know, more articles on paris Hilton and big pictures of kids and puppies that readers send in rather than good reporting on stories that affect people?
The results on your blog speak volumes for McClatchy/Observer's approach. You used to get 50+ posts and now you get 10...maybe."

Group psychology: It's intriguing that the potterblog draws more traffic, fewer comments. Some of the posters who regularly argued back and forth at the blog are upset that the conversation has gone elsewhere, but indications in the past were that many lurkers at the blog declined to enter the posting fray. What are the group dynamics of this? Is it a male/female thing sometimes? An age thing? How does a blogger engage the quiet readers and get them to post? Should a blogger even worry about that, as long as the traffic is coming?

2 comments:

Amy Fiscus said...

I think one way for a blogger to get the quiet readers to speak is to quiet down the loud ones. Not ban them, but encourage civility, politeness, etc. I'm mostly a lurker, except for my friends' blogs, but I feel like I have smart-ish things to say that would add to the conversations. But I'm terrified of being reamed by the mean people! (Well, that and the whole "I'm a journalist can I comment" issue.)

Andria said...

...or maybe tell the loud ones to "take it outside" or off into their own corner. What's hilarious about potterblog is that the loud folks are continuing their own arguments under comments of old postings, and ignoring the potter postings....just fine if you ask me. they can argue all they want as long as I don't have to listen to it.