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Old Journalists, New Tricks

I'm really digging Eric Black Ink. It's a nicely designed bloggy online newspaper-type-thing from the former Star-Tribune reporter and current Minnesota Monitor contributor. Check out Bachmann's Mean Streak to get a feel for his free-reign reporting style.

Eric Black's Ink is a surprise entry in the local newsytown web races. Former Strib editor and publisher Joel Kramer is making the most waves with MinnPost.com. Former City Pages editor Steve Perry is cooking up a daily something. Who is going to win the race? It's not a zero-sum game, but it's an awful lot of media action for our twin towns. Let's break it down.


PRO: Big money, big names, serious news with some blog-like experimentation
CON: Bad design, old names, they don't pay much

CHUCK SEZ: Kramer's stable of experienced journalists and hefty funding make MinnPost the one to watch, especially if they're open to new ideas and smart audience interaction. Corey Anderson is key to that last part.

Disclaimer: I met with Joel Kramer before the site was announced to talk about video. He's a really interesting guy and I actually like that he's emphasizing quality over quantity. He's interested in video and knows they should be experimenting with it, and apparently have a documentary filmmaker videoblogging for them. There could be some Chuck video action on MinnPost if the stars align and it's worthwhile.


PRO: Frequent posting, diverse content, writing talent, CIty Pages kinda sucks
CON: Existing competition (MNspeak, Metroblogging, Mediation, etc.), financially viable?

CHUCK SEZ: I'm very excited to see this. I'm imagining bite-size chunks on a lot of topics relevant to me in the realms of arts and politics. Good writers, good discussion, a little video - could be a winning combination. I wonder if Rob Nelson might end up here?

Disclaimer: Steve Perry said I was a "trailblazer" so he gets secret bonus points.


PRO: Up and running now, clean design, Eric Black's experience and talent
CON: Just one dude, Regurgitated Minnesota Monitor content

CHUCK SEZ: I really like the Strib-free Eric Black. "Permission to speak freely, SIR!" It seems there are no ads on his site, so maybe he's just taking the opportunity to assemble his Minnesota Monitor writing into an online newspaper/blog format. This might not compete with the bigger offerings coming down the pipe, but it is what it is: One good journalist with fresh perspectives. Bravo.

Now I'll throw in the standard issue question: What do you think?

August 31, 2007 at 04:28 AM in Media | Permalink


I did a Minnesota Monitor interview a couple months ago in which I said:

It looks as though a lot of recently unemployed newspaper people are trying to move online. Of course they should, but I worry they won't create anything that feels fun, that has the vigor and excitement of Facebook, that thinks about itself like Digg, that has a relationship with its audience like Newsvine. I predict they will all make the same mistakes: they will talk to their audience rather than with it, they will view "comments on stories" as their big statement about cracking open journalism, and they will vainly try to move the newspaper model onto the internet. And they will likely fail for not understanding the power of the medium: networked communities creating a collaborative news experience.

I didn't know about MinnPost at the time, but it fits perfectly with what I was thinking. It sounds exactly like someone said "let's make an online newspaper" and only meant "online" as a loose adjective of the important word, "newspaper." The industry is filling up with examples of Big J journalists trying to start online papers that fail because they insist that uni-directional publishing is still the model of the future. Unless they can figure out ways to incorporate their audience, MinnPost will die a fast, unglamorous death.

Posted by: Rex at Aug 31, 2007 1:04:01 PM