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Archive for June, 2009

Cecelia Hanley, Chew on this blogger for The Gazette, offered some blogging advice in an email. This is one of several posts related to Bloggers share lots of advice.

Have a general idea on what you want to write about. Yes, blogging is conversational, but it should have a point, not just stream of consciousness. Even if it’s a short entry about a funny occurrence, it should have some relevance. 

Make it more conversational. Use phrases you would use in everyday life. But be careful, don’t get to folksy. Just like with any journalistic endeavor, be honest with your intentions and who you are. (more…)

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Cindy Hadish, Homegrown blogger for The Gazette, offered some blogging advice in an email. I wrote earlier about Cindy and her blog. This is one of several posts related to Bloggers share lots of advice.

Some of what I’d say you’ve already heard. Mainly, choosing a topic you’re passionate about makes it more likely that you’ll stick with the blog and work on it to make improvements. I try to post once a day. I’ve noticed that – probably because of my topic area – I get a lot of hits on weekends, so I don’t like to leave the same post up for long. One thing I’ve been trying to pay more attention to is the search engine terms people use to find my blog. Oftentimes that can show a trend of what people want to know more about and I’ve followed up on those. The same with comments – if someone asks a question, I might answer it and then address it in a subsequent post.

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Justin Foss, This JustIN blogger for The Gazette, answered my blogging questions in an email. This is one of several posts related to Bloggers share lots of advice.

How is blogging different from writing stories and how is it similar?

Blogging is different to me because I can present an idea that might not be that newsworthy, but is still interesting.  It can be lighthearted or serious and since it’s from me personally, my readers accept it.

Blogging is very similar because it still needs all the same elements, person, action, consequence…and it always needs to be accurate. (more…)

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Todd Dorman, 24-Hour Dorman blogger for The Gazette, responded to my request for advice for blogging journalists. This is one of several posts related to Bloggers share lots of advice.

I think the most surprising thing for me about blogging is that after 18 months It’s still a crap shoot. I figured I’d be an expert by now. OK, not really.

Because I don’t have a specific beat, my blog is sort of a grab bag of things I write and things that catch my eye. Occasionally, I’ll post something that’s probably guaranteed to spark hits and conversation (greatest Christmas songs, best guy movies, favorite dive bars etc.) (more…)

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Scott Dochterman, Doc’s Office blogger for The Gazette, responded to my request for advice for blogging journalists. This is one of several posts related to Bloggers share lots of advice.

In the relative short time I’ve blogged, I’d say I’ve learned four strong lessons through trial and error.

  1. Timing is everything. The best time to post new information is around 11 a.m. or 3 p.m. My hit counts go up immensely in those times because of people going to lunch/eating at their desks and those who mess around online late in the work day. If you post something new (and of course relevant) around those time zones, hits will soar. (more…)

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Adam Belz, The Hot Beat blogger for The Gazette, answered my blogging questions in an email. I wrote earlier about Adam and his blog. This is one of several posts related to Bloggers share lots of advice.

How is blogging different from writing stories and how is it similar?

Differences: My tone on the blog is conversational, personal and immediate. I can post anything. A link and a sentence is enough for a blog post, in my opinion. A news story or even a brief for the paper has to be more than that.

Similarities: Accuracy, fairness and relevance are still critical. (more…)

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In my early days as a journalism trainer, I made my mark by compiling helpful handouts. I thought I had a lot of good ideas on the topics I trained on and I compiled tip sheets that people told me they found helpful.

That approach (and sharing those handouts liberally online at No Train, No Gain) built my reputation in the journalism training field more than anything I did. So when I decided to do a blogging workshop this week, my first inclination was to develop a handout with all my tips and advice on blogging. I could have done that and almost did, but two things held me back:

  • I’m not that experienced at blogging and still learning a lot myself. I feared that my own advice might be too shallow and obvious (though I’m amazed at how often people express gratitude for advice that I consider obvious, so I will include some of mine). (more…)

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I want to crowdsource much of the content for my workshop this week, The Blogger’s Voice.

I want to help journalists who are beginning bloggers understand how blogging is different from writing stories or a column. I have lots of thoughts on this, but I want to share more than my thoughts. So I welcome advice from experienced bloggers on all these questions (you will be credited by name):

  • How is blogging different from writing stories and how is it similar?
  • What is good advice for reporters (and their editors) who start blogging about whether/when opinion is acceptable?
  • Blogging tends to be more conversational than news writing. What are some tips on developing the conversational style? And do you have any cautions about topics or beats where that may not be appropriate (or where it’s absolutely appropriate, though journalistic reflexes might say otherwise)?
  • Do you have some tips to share on engaging the community and crowdsourcing stories through a blog?
  • What, if any, ethical issues should bloggers address?  
  • What other advice do you have for bloggers who are more experienced with reporting than with blogging?
  • What are some good online links for blogging journalists?

Thanks in advance for your help. I will be posting the handout for the blog later this week.

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This will be my column in Monday’s Gazette:

I came to Cedar Rapids to do two things: Lead the news staff of The Gazette and GazetteOnline and change the way media companies operate.

I’m shifting my attention now full-time to the second pursuit: transformation.

I will not explain the changes in our news organization here. The staff is still working to understand what’s going on. I will leave it to leaders of that part of the organization to explain what they are doing. I will explain my new role. (more…)

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What if the cyclical part of the advertising collapse does not come back after the end of the cycle?

Lad Paul, an old friend and colleague from the Des Moines Register who recently retired as executive editor of the New York Times News Service and is now consulting, asked that question recently on my Facebook page.  I asked Lad if I could share his question and my answer on the blog (with some minor editing, mostly to remove personal remarks we exchanged, and with some elaboration because I’ve thought more about it as I’m writing this) and he agreed. He had been making his way through my Blueprint for the Complete Community Connection and these questions kept nagging him:

What if advertisers have discovered that they don’t need middle men like our newspapers to find their customers? What is to stop them from taking the money that in the old world would have been their advertising budgets and spending it instead on developing fancy Web storefronts, and then letting the customers find them and their products via search? (more…)

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Balancing community involvement with journalistic detachment is a continuing challenge for many journalists.

If you become too involved with community affairs, you can’t write about them credibly. And if you are too detached from the community, you are less likely to know what’s going on and to understand context. The balance can be especially challenging in small towns, where the pressure to become involved and the visibility of involvement may be greater. I wrote about this challenge last month, responding to a question that a friend had passed along to me.

At the time, I invited some colleagues who have taught and written about journalism ethics to respond to the same question. Newspaper consultant Jim Pumarlo, former editor of the Red Wing Republican Eagle in Minnesota, responded. Jim is the author of Bad News and Good Judgment: A Guide to Reporting on Sensitive Issues in a Small-Town Newspaper and Votes and Quotes: A Guide to Outstanding Election Campaign Coverage. Here is Jim’s response, followed by some further thoughts of mine: (more…)

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