Journalists take to blogging like ducks to tarmac
Baugur's exit from newspapers: much ado about everything

Journalist ought to love social media

Blogging could be the best thing that's ever happened to journalists, if we can only get our heads around it.

I apologise. If you're new to this blog and didn't check the first link of my last post, I might have misled you: I'm all for journalists blogging and can't start to count all its blessings.

However, I think it's useful to reflect on why so many media folks see social media, like blogs, as a threat and not an opportunity; and equally useful to reflect on how social media might change journalism.

See, a flair for writing, as was mentioned in the comments on my last post, is not enough to reap max benefits from blogging. You need a flair for conversation. Not for blagging, or opining or for great oration, but for dialogue.

You can be the world's most erudite writer, and of course you are free to use your blog as an outlet for blagging, opining, speechifying, it's just that if you're only in it for the opportunity to broadcast your views to the world, you miss out on half the gimmick, half the fun: you miss out on all those wonderfully distributed conversations (surely, this is why we classify blogs as social media?).

But you would think journalists would make great conversationalists, wouldn't you? That, is unless they approach blogging as op-ed writing (which too many do), or apply all their worst prejudices about blogging to their own blogging efforts and try to mimic the noisy, drunken, nonsensical pub banter they think blogging should sound like (unfortunately even more common).

Which brings me to why I think blogging is so useful for journalism: I think all journalists these day work at the intersection of mainstream and social media - because the latter is bound to change, and is changing, how we communicate and what we expect from the world – and the best way to understand social media, and how it is changing things, is by using it.

As Robin Hamman wrote recently: "The only way to "do social media" is to embrace it, not just as something that's tacked onto the back of a website, but as a method of actually doing whatever it is your business is."

You could say I'm biased of course; for my own part, I certainly did not understand social media until I started using it. I started reading about social media around 2000, but as I touch on in this interview with Siren FM (clip not working at the moment, but I'm hoping it will be back), I didn't really get it until I started blogging myself in 2005.

For years, I was too busy chasing deadlines, too busy to notice how much these very interesting things I had read about were changing the world around me. That is, until a friend of mine got fed up with all my excuses, just set up a blog for me and told me to get blogging. It was like a great white canvas: I had no idea how I wanted to use it, but about half a year into it I found myself blogging more and more about the changing media landscape, which perhaps can serve as a warning - I had no idea there was a media junkie lurking inside of me until I got blogging.

As it turned out, blogging has made me more optimistic about the future of media than ever, and taught me many invaluable skills. I touch upon how blogging supplements my journalism in my post on distributed conversations, and the web as a treasure throve for journalists here. No, I don't think that the web makes journalists redundant, quite the contrary, in fact I think it vastly improves a journalist's ability to tap into all kinds of wonderful conversations (be they semi- or near private or public)....


Should journalists blog? If they want to, of course.

However, there are a lot of people who would like to see journalism become more like blogging, which would be a terrible mistake, I think.

The dialogue you speak of in social media often manifests itself in endless web debates that are not always worth a journalist's time.

No, I'm not saying that all journalists should blog - I don't think being forced to blog would make for the best bloggers. But all journalists should def. learn to tap into the wealth of information online: how to find it/sift it/use it, and how to talk to sources online. Key is: how to tap into the conversations about your beat, the companies or issues you follow etc.

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