Five things all newspaper editors should know about blogging

by Jason Preston on April 2, 2008

Make Money BloggingJust to give you an idea of where I’m coming from, I have been blogging in some form or another since 2001.

I’ve been working for the Parnassus Group over the past couple of years, where I am currently the New Media Manager. We run several different blogs, help companies with blogger engagement, and put on the Blog Business Summit and Web Community Forum conferences.

Many if not most newspapers have already started blogging on their own, and those blogs are often written by excellent reporters who do in fact know a thing or two about the internet.

While I think that journoblogs really occupy their own subcategory of blogging as a whole (and therefore have their own rules and etiquette), if I were any of those reporters, these are the five things I’d want my editor to know:

1. A blog has writer/reader interaction

Aside from providing RSS feeds, the biggest innovation that blogging has brought to publishing is the true, personal, two-way communication that happens in the comments.

Newspapers can claim that they’re getting into the community all they want, but unless reporters are participating in the comments to their posts, it’s all just lip service.

2. Being early is important

With blogging, even more than with news, breaking an original story is the single most effective strategy for getting traffic. The blogosphere and the news media are often called an echo chamber because one piece of news is reported and re-hashed a million times.

The difference is that bloggers will link to the original post. All those inbound links will raise your PageRank in Google and generate a lot of page views. Even a cursory blog post that promises an in-depth story from the paper later in the day will do better than a post repeating what has already been blogged.

3. Blogging is personal

Blogs have become such a powerful medium in part because the internet can be such an intimate medium. People have come to expect a level of personality and informality from bloggers that would be completely inappropriate in an A1 column.

Giving readers a chance to identify with the reporter rather than with the overall brand is not only recommended, it’s expected.

4. A blog is a conduit for traffic

Thanks to RSS readers and a tradition of shorter posts, blogs are great at shuttling traffic elsewhere on your site. If the Arts department is working on a feature story, it actually helps to blog about it before the feature is finished.

Many bloggers have successfully used this concept to promote books, either by releasing bits of the content for free (as a blook) or by blogging about their research as they go.

5. Blogging is about participating in the online conversation

Whatever beat a certain blog is covering, it’s almost certainly part of a community made up of other blogs. Part of what makes blogs so attractive is that when read collectively they create a conversation about the topic.

Acknowledging and responding to blog posts that other bloggers in your space are writing enhances “street cred,” adds editorial value to both sites, and can often raise overall awareness of a topic.

So there it is. The blogosphere is a very different place than the pages of a newspaper.

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{ 1 comment }

1 Monica Guzman 04.28.08 at 3:22 pm

Can’t emphasize 3 and 5 enough. A lot of newspapers are still scared of letting their reporters get too personal with their audience. Reporters, too. Can’t blame them, really. A lot of reporters signed up to be informants in the print age, not public figures in the digital one. We’ll see where this goes …

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