Flogging Blogs

New York University professor Jay Rosen and a 17-member brood of undergraduate and graduate J-school students siphoned from Rosen's blogging 101 class set out to sift and rank the best newspaper blogs from among the nation's top 100 newspapers by circulation. The winner? The Houston Chronicle. "By a mile." The San Antonio Express-News came in sixth. The criteria: clear navigation, currency, sharp writing and thinking, distinctive voice, an explanation of what blogging is on the blog page, reader participation and breakage from the mother paper’s traditional categories. The Chronicle was noted for its "Voices of Katrina" and "Enron" blogs, a thing called "Shop Girl" and "MeMo," which consists of notes from deputy managing editor for features Kyrie O'Connor about stuff she finds weird and wonderful. To me, the key to a successful blog is, to steal the old IBM mantra, think: If an issue is approached with logical but from-another-planet thinking, taps unusual but relevant knowledge nodes and is spit out in pithy prose, it will snare eyeballs. Too many blogs are just the same "group think" and "herd snark" found in the mother pulp--an extension of a long piss, if you will. --Mark Stuertz

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