The Washington Post’s plan to create a local blogging network has some local bloggers disgruntled.
Adam Pagnucco of Maryland Politics Watch reported last week that he was approached by the Washington Post to join a local blogging network. (This one, here.)
The deal would involve the Post syndicating MPW’s content; it would also require all bloggers in the network to participate in a discussion once a week and create a “workflow plan” where each blogger in the network would be required to create extra material on a rotating basis.
Pagnucco turned them down, he says.
The Post underestimates the blogosphere, he says. Using Google Reader subscriber counts as an example, he says “MPW’s rag-tag band of volunteers, guests and rogues has slightly more regular online subscribers than the Post’s entire paid staff of Maryland reporters combined.”
(To be fair, this metric is far from scientific, but the Post doesn’t release site visit statistics publicly.)
“We think there is value in the additional traffic it will drive to their blogs and in having their writing exposed to a new audience,” Post spokesperson Kris Coratti told us via e-mail.
Second, says Pagnucco, “the implications of the Post’s plan to use bloggers as free labor are troublesome for its paid columnists. The Post has several good local columnists like Colbert King, Courtland Malloy and Robert McCartney. If bloggers fill their functions for free, the Post will inevitably phase them out. In the labor movement, we have a term for workers who undercut other workers and threaten their jobs: scabs. As a labor guy for sixteen years, I have no intention of blogoscabbing.”
Besides, Pagnucco doesn’t sound like he’s in it for the money. “I spend dozens of hours a week working on this blog for the joys of causing trouble, trading stories, unearthing new facts and slamming beers with the spies,” he says. “I suppose someday I may have to run ads…although everyone knows there is no real money in this. But if I am going to be asked to make money for the Grahams, why shouldn’t I get a cut? Do they think I’m so desperate for their approval that I would sign away my work to them for nothing? Furthermore, I don’t believe that a masthead over my name lends anything to my words. Content stands on its own merit in the blogosphere.”