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Columns and blogs

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by ouipa, Nov 9, 2010.

  1. ouipa

    ouipa Member

    Hey all, been a while since I posted here, but I recently got my second newspaper job after a year out of the biz, and I could use a few pointers.

    My role hasn't been set in stone here at my new job, but I'm certain I want to get into the habit of doing two things I didn't do regularly enough at my past job: keep a regular column, and keep a regular blog.

    My only issue right now is that I don't have a beat. One of my biggest challenges when it comes to writing a column has always been finding regular subjects, and since I've always been more inclined to write features, column-writing has always been difficult for me. I'm completely new to the town and the region, and I'm still learning to network within the area, so I have no subjects lined up yet.

    My (very) general question is, as a young journalist, how do you get into writing a column, and what are good habits to get into to keep it going on a regular basis?

    On a similar note, I NEVER kept a regular blog, even when I had a beat at my old job. Now I don't have a beat, and I'm not sure what kind of content could go into a blog when there's no beat involved. The only blogging I'm familiar with is live-blogging - and the higher-ups at our paper refuse to let us use CoverItLive (no one in the department is really sure why).

    Any and all advice is appreciated.
  2. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    How about talking to your editor, you know, the guys who hired you, and findout:
    A .what he expects from you and ...
    B. what more you can do beyond his expectation and ...
    C. what HE thinks is the best way to go about this.

    We know nothing about your situation, your paper or what youo were hired to do. Talk to the person/people who you work for!
  3. alan1066

    alan1066 New Member

    Yep, talk to your editor. Get some guidance on what he/she needs/wants/expect.

    Plus, plan ahead and write down your ideas. You'll be surprised how beneficial keeping a few notes on your column ideas. They can really save you. Make sure a fair number of them are "evergreen" topics, things that aren't time-sensitive.

    I could fill a book here, but facing that deadline without a topic is my biggest fear.
  4. Jake_Taylor

    Jake_Taylor Well-Known Member

    Yeah, definitely talk to your new boss and see what he thinks about all this. If you do a blog, try to find yourself a niche. Maybe you are the only guy on staff interested in MMA or maybe there's not enough room in the paper for much high school wrestling coverage, but you can please the readers that want it by blogging about it. It's easy to blog about whatever is on your mind that day, but you won't develop a devoted audience that way.
  5. cougargirl

    cougargirl Active Member

    With the blog, even without a beat, think of the blog as a mini-sidebar to the stories you write. Something where you might include notes or a few grafs on what you couldn't get in a 12-to-15-inch story. Use it to supplement your coverage.
  6. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    I found it much easier to do a column or blog when I'm covering a beat. Invariably, I come up with a lot of extra information that doesn't fit into a story but makes for interesting fodder.

    It's much harder when you don't have a beat and don't get to know people as well. Much harder picking out a subject and sitting down with someone cold.
  7. ouipa

    ouipa Member

    Thanks for the help. I've meant to sit down with my editor and talk about this, but other, more pressing matters always take precedent. This is just something I want to get into the habit of doing - not a necessary part of my immediate job. A nice perk, if you will.

    I forgot how much stuff there is to learn when moving to not only a new paper, but a new town, state and region.
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