SHANE’S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: Is a blog the same as a newspaper?


The NA Confidential blog (that’s short for “weblog”) turned 15 years of age on October 22, 2019.

Did you know that NAC never once has been used to line a birdcage or drain the grease from fish and chips? That’s because it’s an internet blog, not a newspaper.

But what’s the difference between an internet blog and an online newspaper?

Bizarrely, all these years later it’s a question still not widely grasped. Scott Clavenna, CEO of Greentech Media, Inc., answered this query at the Quora website on April 20, 2011.

A blog can be anything – the voice of one writer or many, who is not strictly held to any codes of professional journalism, but could certainly be as good and reliable as one. An online newspaper typically assumes the writers adhere to journalistic standards – double-sourcing critical assertions in an article, allowing people or companies an opportunity to respond to assertions, adhering to a code of ethics in reporting, such as the Society of Professional Journalists’s code. A blog may voluntarily adhere to all of the above, but typically calling a publication a newspaper implies they are focused on “news” and therefore should assume the standards of reporting.

Of course, historically newspapers were printed on paper and priced with the objective of making a profit. Most still are, although this business model is evolving in ways both good and bad.

Tell me more: “Bail Out Journalists. Let Newspaper Chains Die.”

Since October 22, 2004, the NA Confidential blog has enjoyed only one source of investment: my time, precious or otherwise.

For fifteen and a half years, NAC has been forever pro bono and resolutely profit-free.

Not a single advertisement has been sold, ever. Not one.

Given the sea of booze I’ve had to consume in order to document the perpetually underachieving history of New Albany — the Open Air Museum of Ignorance, Superstition and Backwardness — you might say I’ve actually lost a great deal of money over the years blogging.

Oh, and something else: the outside world has resisted every effort to transform NA Confidential into an anthology of good writing with multiple contributors, which was one of my goals at the outset.

I suppose there are numerous reasons for this, including the ludicrous inefficiency of the free Blogger platform, my disinterest in spending money on something that’s free, the writing and reading habits of the vicinity, and the tendency since the late Noughts for people to post everything long or short on social media.

Since 2004, there have been almost 15,000 posts here, and all but a few hundred of them — probably somewhere around 5% of the total — have been authored by me. The offer remains open, as it always has: Join me in writing for zero remuneration, see the world and be threatened with reprisals by City Hall.

None of this should be mistaken for the concession that as a blogger, I’m any less skilled in terms of writing as (for example) a guest columnist for a local chain newspaper.

Been there, done that (2009 – 2011). I had to relinquish my column to run for office in the primary. I was told I’d get it back if I lost, which I did — then I didn’t.

Rather, the overall point is simply this: blogs and newspapers are apples and oranges, and do not viable comparisons make. Let’s ask this word column’s legal bagel namesake for a closing point of view.

Q. Shane, are blogs and newspapers the same?

A: Ha ha. When’s the last time we purchased thousands of dollars in advertising from a stupid blog?


Hanson’s Folly: There remains a complete absence of diversity among regular News and Tribune columnists.