I must admit I often draw weird glances or awkward silences from editors, and sometimes even other journalists, when I mention that I write a media blog. I've also received well-meaning requests to pitch editor friends before I 'give it away for free' when mainstream media has linked to some story I've blogged. Why do I bother blogging? Do I have too much time on my hands? Where's the money in that?
Of course, before I started blogging, I shared some of those assumptions, at least about how it would be impossible for me, who work around the clock at times and live from deadline to deadline, to fit that into my schedule, and why should I? Well, there's plenty of very good reasons, and recently a number of blogger-journalists have written some excellent posts on this...
A well of information
For one, blogging equips you with very valuable information about what people are interested in, read and don't read, what issues people search for information on etc, and it enables a more direct dialogue with your readers.
One side effect of this is that it gives me valuable information about which of the media companies I write about are being discussed in which country right now, and, if they have no presence in the country where they are getting lots of Google hits, even an indication of possible new acquisitions. A perfect example of how this information may be applied here.
At the moment, I'm getting a lot of hits from the intranets of certain Norwegian nationals. Recent investigations of mine (unfortunately behind pay-wall) found that the blogging efforts of Norwegian national media leaves a lot to be desired, so this catch-up post is especially for you guys:
For the bean counters out there, blogging, used correctly, is of course a great way to drive traffic to your news site, and strengthen your main brand. And, as Robin Hamman said quite a while back:
"I think that everyone who works in industry, journalism or academia needs to blog to stay relevant and informed these days.... There is enormous value in blogging- as a source of ideas, content, comment, criticism, and contacts," and it's fun. For more in-depth analysis of why journalists should blog, do follow the links to the posts I've highlighted below:
Martin Stabe: Attention journalists: Focus on blog signal, not noise
Unfortunately, many journalists... continue to focus instead on the noise, missing the signal in the process. They walk into the pub, hear the banter of drunken idiots in the front, and walk out in disgust — not realising that they are missing a lively and well-informed discussion going on at the quiet table in the back.
Stabe, again: Bloggin vs journalism yet again
It's not bloggers vs journalists. Blogging is transforming the journalism of ‘mainstream’ news sites, not supplanting it
Chris Cobler, The Tribune (where he until recently was publisher, now managing editor at Poynter. Requires registration) via Adrian Monck.:
If you write post after post that garners no response, then it ought to be telling you something. In print, we’ve been able to kid ourselves for decades that every reader is savoring every word of our prose. Online, it’s painfully clear what readers do and don’t care about....A third and related reasons is to better understand the digital world. If for no other reason than this, you ought to blog. During the past four years, I’ve learned the lingo and expectations of the online audience. I’ve learned to hyperlink to related articles. I’ve started a wiki. I’ve shot and posted video to my blog... Are there other bloggers out there who want to share their experiences? After all, the blogosphere, at its best, is all about being a conversation and not a lecture. If it’s a lecture, what you have is a monoblog.
David Carr, The New York Times (requires registration):
Independent bloggers can laugh all they want about the imperious posture of the mainstream media, but I and others at The Times have never been more in touch with readers' every robustly communicated whim than we are today. Not only do I hear what people are saying, but I also care.
Sometimes I wonder whether I care to the point that I neglect other things, like, oh, my job. Tweaking the blog is seductive in a way that a print deadline never is. By the time I am done posting entries, moderating comments and making links, my, has the time flown. I probably should have made some phone calls about next week's column, but maybe I'll write about, ah, blogging instead.
And... Why journalists fear blogging (Newsbreak via Adam Tinworth):
I guess it’s because, as a journalist, you are trained to be very careful about everything you write about. As a member of a news organization, there is also comfort in the thought that, before your words see print, they will go through rigorous editing and fact-checking. Blogging, on the other hand, is a spontaneous exercise. You are on your own. Once you hit the “publish” button, that’s it. There’s no turning back. If somebody happens to be browsing through your blog at that very moment, he or she will be able to read everything you wrote—including all the grammatical errors, misspelled words, and (horror of horrors!) ill-informed (read: ignorant) outbursts.
And now I've got to rush off to a launch party. Damn, lost track of the time, hope I won't be too late - there's another reason not to blog I guess...