LJWorld.com weblogs Ally Shaw
Keep on Bloggin'
When everybody’s doing it, there’s nothing to be done but jump in. TV and newspaper reporters are finally succumbing to technology. They tweet, blog, facebook and myspace in an attempt to promote the words they write.
In classrooms, retired journalists are even teaching burgeoning journalists how to manipulate this “new media” and hopefully breathe life into the stunted practice.
And I suppose it’s a good thing.
Blogging is a more intimate outlet for a reporter. It allows them to use language that is a little looser than that in print. It has the advantage of allowing the user to interact and comment on the content. The blog site becomes a form of social networking when the readers create a discussion on the subject. Although we can’t really call them readers anymore – they are commentors.
The commentators show what stories are important to them through blogs. While the old media typically runs stories for a 48 hour cycle, bloggers can keep a story alive by continuing to talk about it and repost it.
Newspapers should take advantage of the increased space and treat the blog as an extension of the paper.
The Montgomery Advertiser allows their writers to post pieces of stories that didn’t make it into the paper, or to link to stories that a reader might find interesting. But no opinions allowed. Remember, we are still journalists, operating not as ourselves, but as an extension of a media outlet.
Jenn Rowell covers the military beat at the Montgomery Advertiser. In her blog , she writes short, two to three paragraph updates on her stories, and sometimes offers her readers suggestions of interesting pieces from other sources.
I recently e-mailed Rowell, asking how her paper controls the content of her blog. She told me she doubts her editor ever checks her blog, much less reviews her posts before they are made public. Still, she said, reporters will usually self-check because they know the importance of a good reputation.
“I think good reporters apply most of the same rules for blogging they do for their reporting,” Rowell said. “Sure you have a different format, so you can have a little more fun, but it's still your name and your readers will associate what they see on the blog with your blyine in the paper. To be full of opinions on a blog is a dangerous thing for a reporter.”
Rowell works at a paper with a circulation of 45,060. Rowell said she often receives letters or e-mails from readers referring to her print stories.
But her blog postings are commentless. I’ve said before that sometimes blogs are just white noise, while papers, actual, physical papers, stand alone with the reputation of trustworthiness and accuracy. Although Rowell lives in a community where military news is of the upmost importance, they still don’t reach out to the blog. In this perhaps rare case, the community is loyal to the paper.
But Rowell should certainly keep blogging. Even though it seems no one is reading, it’s important to continue to pump out useful, factual content in any form and just hope that someone out there is reading.