Independent launches blogging platform

The Independent‘s new blogging platform, Independent Minds, launched yesterday in a partnership with the now Russian-owned Livejournal. But unlike the Telegraph’s MyTelegraph site, it puts the journalists’ blogs on the same platform as the readers’. It’s a dramatic improvement (as you’d expect) on the very clunky, and frankly half-hearted blogging efforts they were doing on Typepad; and they also promise a strategic decision to ‘centre more on the writer than on the topic’ as they did before. The blogging content gets some high-profile space on the Indy’s homepage.
On the face of it, it’s a fairly basic re-skinning of Livejournal’s community features; the deeper you click, the less it feels like an Independent site, and the more it feels like plain old Livejournal. Nothing wrong with that; it makes sense to use a well-established and relatively beginner-friendly platform. It’s a natural move for Livejournal as the new owners are reportedly keen to expand their relatively modest UK user base: their statistics page shows they have 315,000 UK-based users.
Hmm… the Independent? Livejournal? There wouldn’t be a Downing Street connection there, would there? Former No10 web boss Jimmy Leach is now the Indy’s ‘editorial director for digital’; and Ben Wegg-Prosser, ex-head of the Strategic Communications Unit is Director of Corporate Development at Livejournal’s Russian owners, SUP. The two also worked together for ages at the Guardian (I think).
It’s another signal of blogging’s steady progress into the newsroom: speaking of which, it’s well worth reading BBC man Jem Stone’s write-up of Robert Peston’s talk to the BBC’s College of Journalism yesterday. ‘Central to everything that I do at the BBC,’ he says.