In preparation for our newspaper study that will begin in a few weeks, I was poking around the Washington Post and USA Today websites, specifically looking at the blogs offered by the two papers.  I wanted to find a logical way to compare the success of these blog networks.  Having tried using Alexa in some previous newspaper research and being less-than-satisfied with the reliability of the results, I decided to see how these blogs were doing on Technorati.

What I found was pretty interesting.  The Washington Post has a massive networks of blogs.  I found 41 of them today, and I am sure that there are others buried within the site's architecture.  It was hard to track all of the blogs down, as there is no one place where they are all stored on the site.  In contrast, USA Today has a much smaller network of blogs–20.  At first, it might seem logical that because the WaPo has more than twice as many blogs as USA Today, its blog network must be more successful.  However, this is not the case.  Instead, I think this is clearly an example of the mantra "quality, not quantity".

I tracked down all the URLs  for these newspaper blogs and plugged them into Technorati, recording the authority, rank , and date of the most recent post for each blog.  At the end, I averaged these figures and found that the USA Today blogs are doing significantly better than the WaPo blogs.

Of the 41 WaPo blogs, 7 were incredibly out of date with no updates for several months:

Reporting for Duty
Your Post
County Connections
World Opinion Roundup
Richmond Report
World Cup
On the Plane

On USA Today, only two were out of date, and these were dedicated to time-sensitive topics (holiday shopping and March Madness), which aren't really relevant the rest of the year:

Holiday Shopping
Bracket Racket

Further, the WaPo has 4 blogs that have no authority or ranking in Technorati.  None of the USA Today blogs face this problem.

In my comparison, I found that the WaPo blogs have an average rank (1 is best) of 191,669 and an average authority (the higher the better) of 221.76.  USA Today blogs have an average authority of 233 and an average rank of 119,212.4.  As a benchmark, The Bivings Report has a rank of 6,197 and an authority of 513. Between all of the blogs I researched, just 6 have a better ranking than The Bivings Report. In general, most of the newspaper blogs are doing pretty poorly.  But, as indicated by these data, some were much better than others.

In order to expand this research, I tried the same process for the New York Times blogs and blogs .  However, it didn't appear that Technorati was tracking any of these blogs.

I really think that while blogs enhance the interactivity and variety of content on newspaper websites, it is absolutely possible for a newspaper to stretch itself too thin.  Perhaps some newspapers should cut down on the number of blogs they offer, substantially improving the quality of the blogs they choose to maintain.  Outdated blogs or blogs that no one reads don't do anything but clutter a website.  My advice would be for newspapers to cut down on the number of "junk" blogs and instead focus on publishing quality content on a smaller number of blogs.  What do you think?  Is it quality or quantity that really matters in this case?

You can check out my excel datasheet here.