There were a lot of good discussions at the Triangle Blogger's Conference today, mostly about how to get more traffic to your blog and what the line should be between bloggers and "real" journalists. Ed Cone, who writes a print column and blogs for The Greensbor News & Record had this advice for achieving the former: "Have a take, and don't suck." Good advice.
Some folks at the conference thought it was silly to focus on getting traffic to your blog, which is true. Who are you really writing for? When you start writing for your audience, are you really still writing for yourself? It reminded me of the indy rock concern about selling out. Someone once told me that unless a musician plays absolutely for free they are selling out. That means even the guy who's always playing the violin on Ninth Street in Durham is selling out because he gets a bit of change from passersby. I think most of us would agree that's taking things a bit too far.
Likewise, there were many opinions about big media and how it will be helped or hurt by bloggers. Dan Gillmor made a good point when he said that there's less beat reporting these days, and that's where bloggers are filling a need. It's kind of like the old "Points East" columns in my old hometown newspaper, The Carteret County News Times, in which someone from each of the tiny hamlets east of Beaufort would report on who was sick, who was in town visiting, and what was going on at the local churches.
This is where I think blogging and mainstream media can work together, by hosting community blogs, getting bloggers started and doing deeper reporting on some of the ideas that come out of these blogs. Whether or not these community bloggers will always need the local paper is another story. Gillmor covers grassroots journalism in his book "We the Media," which he was kind enough to autograph for me. I just began reading it, so I'll report back once I've got a better handle on it.
I would have liked to have gone to the Podcasting lunch discussion but unfortunately didn't have the time. While I was there, I did get to see a few folks I hadn't seen in a while, including Tim Ross, who has resurected his old Tuba Frenzy zine into a blog, and Bruce Loebrich, who was one of the folks I interviewed almost exactly two years ago when I first wrote about blogging for The N&O.