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!