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Blogs!? What is the role of a blog?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Evil ... Thy name is Orville Redenbacher!!, Mar 31, 2008.

  1. This is sparked by a recent thread about good blogs ...
    Like Pete, our paper has several reporters blogging, but without direction.
    Many of the blogs are either personal items about the blogger or musings on the general state of things; for example our business writer blogs about biz matters and the economy. But typical of many blogs, it is all their opinion on the issue with no reporting, or quoted sources involved.
    My question is what is the role of a blog/blogger?
    If you are a sports writer, should your blog be an extension of your beat? Musings on the world of sports? A periodic top 5 list of male athletes for which you consider switch hitting? Or a personal thing where you discuss the intricacies of being a 41-year-old man with ear and back hair?

    What about news reporters' blogs? Again, should it be an extension of beat coverage? Musings on the world in general? Personal knowledge? or random crap, like listing the top 5 video games of all-time along with random 1980's album covers?

    Or is it simply anything that can gain the attention of web surfers?
  2. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    Bingo! That is probably the short answer.

    Real, true blogs, however, should be written with a voice and a tone. So, opinion and musings are OK, and even, to be encouraged. And the items, preferably, should be short. Just quick hits.

    But this is also what makes many reporters' blogs not truly blogs. They're often more like daily notebook items, with the word "I" sprinkled in them a few times, because that's just what we've learned, and what we're most comfortable doing, unless we're columnists.

    My personal belief is that there should be some reporting, quotes, and analysis/explanation involved. And that, sometimes, strong and supportable arguments or opinions cannot always be, and should not always be, presented in three or four paragraphs.

    But the parasitical nature of blogs does not really encourage original reporting. Why do that when people can simply link to others' work? Especially when that's quicker.

    Immediacy, after all, is what it's all about.

    That's not always how it should be, but that's the way it is.
  3. EE94

    EE94 Guest

    blogs used to be someone compiling a bunch of links, woven together with commentary

    a blog now - certainly in the hands of newspapers - are just column-lite.
  4. bake1234

    bake1234 Member

    I view them as a means for some more analysis of the whys and hows of what happened, for starters. I think, by and large, a blog on State U or a pro team should focus on those subjects alone while trying to make it more than just a few things that didn't fit in the paper.

    Most importantly, I think blogs are a chance to interact with readers. Answer their questions, explain your reporting (if necessary), tell them why you did/didn't report this story, and go a bit beyond the Xs and Os into what could happen or what the future holds. More of a way for beat writers to columnize a bit...so yeah, column-lite.
  5. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Hate to do this, but the answer is a little bit of everything. The common copout.

    I think reporters' blogs should be somewhat focused on their beats but can still stray elsewhere. It's supposed to be a personal journal.

    We have as many different styles of staffers' blogs as we have bloggers. Some do a lot of links. Some do few. Some are limited technically to what they can do. Some are HTMLing all over the place.

    Some stick to their beats, some don't.

    I will say that yes, sometimes they're just notebook items, but that's why we like them. Instead of emptying a six-page notebook on us at once once a week, they're giving fresh information on a regular basis as they go, and we like that. Much more dynamic and keeps readers checking back.
  6. didntdoit19

    didntdoit19 Member

    I try to make my blog an extension of my beat, either with stuff that doesn't make it into the paper or just the random observation.

    One thing that's really important is I try to sprinkle in little tidbits about what the players are like behind the scenes, things that aren't quite worthy of being in the paper but are interesting and illustrate my access to the team.

    Something else I try to do is have special blog-only features, like reporter Q&As, mailbags, weekend reviews and short player features. Those are interesting and can also show my personality. And that's important in a blog. If you have the freedom to show who you are, do it.

    Basically, I use it as both an extension of my beat and a way for my readers to get to know me. And, as should be expected, I link all of my stories on that beat and add a bit more analysis and reaction.
  7. Mooninite

    Mooninite Member

    We have a lot of rules for blogs at our paper (22k circulation). We have a whole community of blogs our newspaper calls a virtual village (yuck). No news reporters are allowed to blog about their beats. We have one reporter who kind of does a blog on the local food scene the rest are community generated.
    We have a sports blog, mostly about preps because we don't staff any pro or Division I college teams because they are 100 or more miles away. We try and give the readers something they can't get anywhere else...more and in-depth local. From tournament pairings, prep results from around the region to live blogging some postseason tournaments. We'll even link to other newspapers' stories. The big thing though is having something fresh almost daily giving the reader a reason to check out the site daily.
    More small newspapers in our area are now blogging but they'll go week or two without a post and that kind of defeats the purpose of trying to grow your readership in my mind.
  8. To save the business, of course.
  9. Smasher_Sloan

    Smasher_Sloan Active Member

    That's what it ought to be. It gives you a chance to expand on something that was in print, or maybe discuss the process, if that's relevant to anything.
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