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Crikey, it's a blog

Last week, Australian web darling Crikey soft-launched its blog network. Crikey has delivered up-to-the-second news and gossip on the web and by email for years, so why go in for a blog now? What does a blog give you that you can't see on a comment-enabled web article?

The boundaries between blogs and 'real media' are too blurry to tell. Just go visit the blog-based Huffington Post which like Crikey often scoops traditional media and gives better commentary and opinion than traditional papers. Crikey have pulled over their big name contributors to support the new venture like Guy Rundle's popular coverage of the US election and their must-read cartoonist for First Dog on the Moon with a chat about favourite animals.

Crikey has been one of the few Australian web outfits to have success with subscriber content. Their site is a mix of free content and 'read more with membership' articles, including Rundle08. But with the blogging platform, they're giving away their content. It's too early to tell how they'll differentiate between the freebies and the subscriber content, but Crikey will have to manage this so there's still a drive towards subscribing. Why pay for it if you can read the blog right?

A blog frees Crikey from the daily publishing schedule so Rundle can live blog whenever he needs to about the election. This is particularly handy when you've got contributors across multiple timezones. It's an ideal use of a dynamic media. You can do the same with a web article by scheduling your content so there's something fresh every hour, but blogs come with the expectation of a regular update.

Crikey also have some hefty advertisers on both their blog and site, so perhaps that's the revenue model. Certainly having a community that comments on stories creates a more engaged audience which builds more hits and longer time on page stats. All of this has a big appeal to advertisers. the only problem is that to comment you need a Wordpress login to comment - another couple of clicks between commenting.

Duncan Riley over at the Inquisitr reckons Crikey's move is a vote of confidence in Australian blogs though "we are a good 5 years behind the United States in accepting blogs as legitimate news sources". Perhaps it's more the big appeal to advertisers that's more important here. More advertising dollars can mean better content. Though in other media (anyone for commercial TV? FM radio?) this equation hasn't paid off in quality. Good thing Crikey co-owner, Eric Beecher, is a fan of quality journalism before profits.

Big Trip update: I posted about a Facebook competition for The Big Trip earlier and had to use the 'dynamic media' to yank it down as apparently the legals weren't sorted. I'll try to get a permalink up for the competition soon. Apologies and back soon.