Monthly Archives: November 2008

An attempt to define blogging as a genre

Having asked previously “Can you define blogging without mentioning technology?” here is my attempt to do just that for a book chapter on blogging and journalism. Am I right? Have I missed something? Would love your comments on this short excerpt:

Blogging, above all else, is conversational. It is social. It is networked. There are two key features to the blog: links, and comments. Fail to include either, and you’re talking to yourself.

Blogging is also incomplete, open, and ongoing. It is about process, not product. It is about a shared space.

Only republishing print articles or broadcast journalism on a blog, for example, is not using the medium in any meaningful way – a process derisively called ‘shovelware’. Instead, a more useful approach is to blog about an idea for an article, then blog a draft version, asking for readers’ input – and responding to it – at both stages. The published or broadcast version can also be posted on the blog later, as the latest stage in its production, but again with an invitation for updates and corrections. You might publish the ‘uncut’ version, too.

In short, the story is never finished.

And blogging is personal and informal – often difficult for journalists who have been trained for years to be objective and removed from their stories. This personal quality has a number of strengths: it allows you to make a closer connection with readers, which in turn often helps build your understanding of the issues that matter to them. It allows you to be more transparent about the news production process, building trust and news literacy. And it allows you a space for reflection, if you choose to use it.

Why do you blog?

As far as I can see, there are 3 types of reasons for blogging:

  • editorial (leads, sources, speed, multimedia); 
  • commercial (distribution, SEO); and 
  • professional (portfolio, personal brand).

Why did you start blogging? Why do you continue to blog? Was it a personal or an organisational move? How has it proved its worth (or not)?

Journalism training orgs combine to form Shovelware Alliance

The UK’s three leading journalism training bodies have finally announced that they are to work together as part of a new ‘Joint journalism training council’.

The National Council for the Training of Journalists, the Broadcasting Journalism Training Council and the Periodicals Training Council – who have traditionally provided training for regional newspapers, broadcast journalists, and magazines respectively – have been encroaching on each others’ territories for a while as the industries converged.

It’s early days yet, but the statement doesn’t make encouraging reading for anyone with an interest in the potential of online journalism as a separate medium: the three “new skills and awareness that are and will be required of journalists aiming to work in multi platform news organisations” include:

“b.    Developing ideas for repurposing and adding to print or broadcast news material for use on websites including the use of links, background material, writing for the website, the basics of search engine optimisation and use of basic content management systems. [my emphasis]

“c.     Using video and audio equipment to produce content for websites and other platforms and publishing it.”

In other words, treating the website as a place to shovel – and possibly add to – content produced for another medium.

The statement does go on to say “It is recognised that this is not an exhaustive list”, but it’s not a promising start.

Society of Editors 08: Michael Rosenblum

Star turn at the Society of Editors conference yesterday was ‘Video Visionary’ Michael Rosenblum – the only person on stage all day who seemed to realise just what a hole the news industry was in. He talks about his own experiences in creating video journalism for the web, and makes some very strong points about disruptive technologies in history:

Michael Rosenblum @ Society of Editors 08 from Paul Bradshaw on Vimeo.

Michael Rosenblum @ Society of Editors 08 pt2 from Paul Bradshaw on Vimeo.

Michael Rosenblum @ Society of Editors pt.3 from Paul Bradshaw on Vimeo.

Removing Nofollow on blog links and meta – and invisible comments

A couple months ago I installed a plugin on the blog that meant search engines would index links in comments: by default WordPress uses ‘nofollow‘ on comments to stop spammers abusing them to boost search engine rankings, but that prevents genuine commenters getting credit for their contributions.

One problem: as one commenter pointed out, the blog as a whole was set to ‘noindex-nofollow’ “which equals a no trespasing sign for search engines for ALL of the site’s links. It’s Google suicide.” Continue reading