Newspapers Sign on With Syndicate Bloggers

By Eric Auchard

A syndication service that delivers commentary from 600 bloggers for use by newspaper publishers is set to launch on Tuesday, further blurring the lines that divide blogs and mainstream media.

BlogBurst, as the service from blog technology company Pluck Corp. is known, includes headlines and articles for use by newspaper publishers in the news or feature sections of their online services, as well as print editions.

Pluck initially has signed up Gannett Co. Inc., Washington Post Co., San Francisco Chronicle, Austin American-Statesman and San Antonio Express. Eventually, the Austin, Texas-based company will offer BlogBurst editorial materials to niche business and overseas publications.

Newspapers are looking to BlogBurst to provide expert blog commentary on travel, women's issues, technology, food, entertainment and local stories, areas where publishers may not have dedicated staff, Pluck Chief Executive Dave Panos said.

In return, a select group of popular bloggers are offered wider distribution for their writings, he said. The online syndicate drives traffic to blog sites, allowing featured bloggers to make money from resulting online advertising fees.

"I think you are going to see hundreds of newspapers accessing the content we produce by the end of the year," Panos said.

Blogs distributed by BlogBurst range from tech-focused Micro Persuasion

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the parental musings of Finslippy
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to Teen Fashionista
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BlogBurst has its own staff to review and edit blogs, in effect accrediting them for newspaper publishers and thereby addressing issues of quality control that have often poisoned relations between mainstream media and bloggers.

In recent years, established media have struggled to face the threat that blogs would chip away at their readership, as more and more people turn to online media for their news. Simultaneously, classified advertising, newspapers' traditional source of revenue, has come under attack from online services.

Meanwhile, bloggers have played a big role in exposing the failings of conventional media. For their part, traditional journalists have seen the lack of editorial oversight over individual bloggers as a danger to impartial news reporting.

"Everything that flows on to publishers' sites they have the opportunity to bless and to put a unique spin on while giving them the quality levels they are looking for," Panos said.

Bloggers can sign up to join the service at

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from approved bloggers are automatically available whenever a blogger posts online. BlogBurst provides publishers with tools for syndicating blog posts on various topics into their online publications. In return, bloggers and other web site owners are free to use the RSS output of many newspapers in their own work.

Jeff Jarvis, the former TV Guide media critic turned blogger

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, said he doubts whether paid syndication of blogs works, but believes that newspapers are moving in the right direction by featuring bloggers, and allowing bloggers and web sites to feature them.

"The lines between the mainstream media and the rest of the world will start to blur, not because people (bloggers) are joining the mainstream media, but because of the opposite effect: the mainstream media rejoins the people," Jarvis said via e-mail.

Pluck has also begun to sign up niche business publications in sectors such as aviation and architecture to use its blog syndication service and to talk with European publishers as blog commentary has begun to take off in that region.

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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