Andrew Grant-Adamson argues that newspaper reporters don’t have time to be bad bloggers. If you’re going to blog, or have reporters blog, he seems to be saying, make sure they’re good blogs, or don’t blog at all.
But all reporters must learn to become good bloggers.
If you’re smart enough to be a good reporter, you should be smart enough to figure out how to become a good blogger. The trick, of course, is to set aside your ego and preconceived notion about what journalism is so that you can see what blogging is.
It’s not your city editor’s journalism.
We’re used to doing journalism. It’s a product we provide consumers. Blogging isn’t something you do. It’s something you are. It’s how you relate to people who share your interest. And you need to be interested in what you write about. You can’t just take your dreary beat and turn it into a blog.
Here’s how to get better blogs:
- Let reporters pick blog topics that interest them. This isn’t a bad idea because we need to get our sites beyond just traditional news coverage anyway. There needs to be some guidelines, of course, because some topics are already saturated (say, politics and pop culture), and others are a little too niche (collecting old Ralph Nader campaign buttons, for example).
- Reporters need to become passionate about their beats (if they’re not already) and become true topic-area experts. The beat needs to become more than a job. It needs to be a vocation. If you cover sewer and water, learn everything you can about treatment facilities and aquifers and monitor all the related resources on the web.
- Editors can reassign staff to areas that more closely align with personal interests or predilections. This is obviously more complex (and impossible on really small papers, maybe), but will ultimately lead to better journalism and better blogging. Some reporters are lucky enough to cover what they love, or have learned to love what they cover, but there are also a lot of reporters doing nothing more than filling empty chairs. This might be a good time for editors to decide if it’s better to cover a beat just because we’ve always covered it, or create new beats that better fit the strengths of available staff.
[tags]newspapers, newsrooms, news coverage, blogging, blogs[/tags]