News Leadership 3.0

June 15, 2009

Miami Herald: New blog channel brings order, fosters connections in the local blogosphere

In a guest post, Herald editor Shelley Acoca describes’s latest online initiative - a South Florida Blogs channel that links 280 blogs

Note: I’m excited about that more and more news organizations are looking to aggregate local blogs and community news sites. News organizations can play a major role in fostering public debate and building and sharing Web traffic if they seek out and partner with local citizens who also are bringing news, information and debate to their communities. So I asked Shelley Acoca, Instant News Editor at the Miami Herald, to write this guest post about the Herald’s just-launched South Florida Blogs network.

By Shelley Acoca launches its South Florida Blogs channel this week, pulling together 280 blogs as a guide to the region’s growing blogosphere. The idea was to build a network that would give users a quick look at what was happening in South Florida’s blogosphere and help to drive traffic to the dozens of blogs in the area, as well as building content for our website and developing a relationship with local bloggers.

Here’s how Executive Editor Anders Gyllenhaal describes the effort in note to readers:

“The local blogosphere produces some of the most lively, irreverent, edgy commentary you’ll find in South Florida on just about every topic imaginable, from politics to the arts, sports to the media, food to sex.

“It’s such a sprawling universe it’s hard to navigate, search and keep up with for all but the most dedicated readers. That’s why The Miami Herald launched a sharp new guide to 280 South Florida blogs this week that I think you’ll want to spend time with.”

Herald Multimedia Editor Rick Hirsch and I started working on the idea nearly a year ago. As the concept was developed, we began talking with David Mastio, a former USA Today journalist who founded BlogNetNews, a company that develops community blog networks for newspapers and others. The company had successfully launched networks that were along the lines of what we hoped to build in South Florida - objective RSS aggregations of locally based blogs presented by category.

I began working with Mastio in April to compile a list of the nearly 300 blogs that network contains as it launches.  Local bloggers were invited in to offer up their opinions on the beta version; they were asked to be frank and let us know what they thought didn’t work, as well as what they liked. We incorporated their thoughts into the version we launched, and based our FAQ on their questions.

Overall, the beta groups response was positive. Several of them—Carlos Miller, Dayngr and MustangBobby - posted their thoughts after our 90 minute meeting. A couple of others who were invited to the meeting but couldn’t make it - Rick from The South Florida Daily Blog and Bill from Random Pixels and Loose Talk from Miami Beach - also shared their thoughts with us privately and on their blogs. Romenesko linked to Carlos’ Miller’s blog, bringing lots of eyes to the beta version of the page.

What they liked best:
- Widgets they could use to enhance their own blogs.
- The idea of helping build the already thriving community.
- The archive search that allows users to find posts dating back 60 days

They also helped troubleshoot problems: Some of the blogging platforms weren’t allowing the feeds to go through; some of the widgets needed tweaking. And they suggested other bloggers and categories to add to the channel.

Our hope is the page will grow over time and help users to get a more comprehensive view of what’s happening in our region. And we’ll continue to enhance the site as we get more feedback from bloggers and other users.


Mastio in April to compile a list of the nearly 300 blogs that network contains as it launches.  Local bloggers were invited in to offer up their opinions on the beta version;
Diskon Gila

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Exploring innovation, transformation and leadership in a new ecosystem of news, by journalist and change advocate Michele McLellan.

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