Sep 25, 2011

Print v. blogging and call for guest posters!

This week, three friends who are former colleagues and I semi-launched a news blog to cover our small Alaskan town. I say semi-launched because we've yet to run our first news story. At this point we're soliciting input from our target audience to make sure whatever we do cover is what our readers want. We're attempting market research on the fly.

Although all of us have more than 50 years (eep!) of reporting between us, we're all newbie bloggers. And in case you haven't noticed, blogging is WAY different than print journalism. (The term 'citizen journalist' came about because bloggers who saw news happening wrote about it. The term makes me wince for the same reason a professional soldier would at hearing 'citizen soldiers' were running onto the battlefield. It's safe to say that 'citizen journalists' are responsible for putting real journalists out of work by the thousands. And before you shrug and think it's no loss, consider this - there are fewer journalists covering the halls of power, whether it be your city council, your state government or school district budget meetings. Fewer journalists = fewer gov't oversight = more corruption.)

*stepping off soapbox* Anyway, it's easy to SAY blogging is different than writing a news story but how is it really? As the Queen of Lists, I've started one. Please add your ideas in the comments, or share any thoughts you have about the difference between news blogging and newspaper coverage. And please share a link to your favorite news blogs. (Market research!)

1. Accountability. Professional journalists are accountable for what they write. They must have legitimate sources and verifiable information before going to press. And if they rush to press with bad info, careers are lost. Think Dan Rather.
Bloggers, on the other hand, are beholden to no one.

2. Sources. A good news story has at least three sources, preferably from different POVs.
Bloggers: generally one POV - the blogger's.

3. News worthiness. The city editor keeps a budget of story ideas. Before a reporter's story gets added, the reporter must prove it's worthwhile, interesting and valid.
Bloggers: anything is blogworthy. Anything.

4. Objectivity. A reporter cannot cover a story with a personal connection. Ever.
Bloggers: it's all about the personal connection. See #3.

5. Voice. With the exception of features, reporters write in a dry, methodical informative style. Every word counts - anything extra is axed for space.
Bloggers: The joy of blogging is to share your unique voice.

6. Organization. Reporters follow AP style, which is partly about language (#5) and partly about the way information is arranged within a story. The hook leads. The second graph is the nutgraf - the meat of the story. Always.
Bloggers: hook? *shrugs*

7. Editors. The scourge and savior of newsrooms, they slash, burn and encourage reporters to do better, get the story, stay on track. *sigh* I miss editors the most.
Bloggers: Unless you have a co-blogger with a yen for slashing/burning, you're out of luck.

And now, in the spirit of community blogging, I'd LOVE to hear from you if you'd like to guest post here.

(See my bold print? that means I REALLY mean it!!) Email me at rewrighter (at)gmail if you're up for the challenge!


Nancy Thompson said...

Hey Melodie! Well, I TOTALLY agree on every single item you had up there for real journalists. It's always interesting to get someone's take on the news and current issues, but it's not real journalism. And it's sad if these bloggers are putting the real thing out of work. It's a shame to have to rely on that type of writing instead of unbiased reporting. Can't say that I do that at all. I'm still, and likely always will be, a REAL news junkie.

As far as guest blogging, well, I'd love to volunteer, but I hardly know what to write on my own blog. Still, it's an interesting idea. Hmmm... Maybe Lisa Regan and I could do something together. I'll have to ask her. Oh Lisa...yoohoo...

Sarah Pearson said...

I would add that a blogger can add edits, retractions and updates a heck of a lot faster than a print journalist :-)

MatanuskaMade said...

As a former full-time journalist and a former full-time English teacher who is now substitute teaching in the Valley, my plan is to start a blog about my sub adventures. Subs have a unique perspective on what goes on inside our schools because they are in a variety of schools, covering a variety of classrooms, following a myriad of lesson plans (or not) and dealing with a many different kinds of student issues and behaviors. I'm hoping my blog can become a regular part of The Palmer Post (even though I work in schools all over the Valley).

I will, of course, change the names of students and staff members to protect them, but I plan to be as honest and blunt as possible about what I see, hear, feel, taste, and smell during my subbing day in order to offer some additional insight into our local schools.

Please let Rindi, Melodie and Zaz know whether this is of interest to you.

Thank you!

K.T. McKee

Carrie Butler said...

Good luck with your news blog! I know it'll be fantastic. :D I love the list, and you know what?

It reminds me of the fourth screenshot on my blog post today...

So, you're the one Googling that!

Alison Miller said...

How cool! Good luck with your new blog! And great tips!

Jennifer Groepl said...

I've run into much misinformation online, and I agree whole-heartedly about jobs being lost. It's not just in writing, though. I lost my transcription contract to an Indian company with inferior quality. It's all about the $$$ these days. Good luck with your news blog. It sounds great. :)

Melodie said...

Sarah - your suggestion is definitely #7. Corrections: blogs rock. Print *sad face*

Nancy: you and Lisa are always welcome!

Allison: thanks for stopping by - love your blog.

Jennifer: yup, it's always about the money. An industry is always melting down somewhere. Print has been melting down since, oh, 2005. And there's no end in sight.