How, why and what should a young journalist start blogging

If you are a budding journalist, or trying to break back into the game, if you’re a writer, a poet, an editor or aspiring movie star, if you want to be on TV or on radio, why aren’t you blogging?

If only just a bit.

Newspapers are trying to establish themselves by these online rules, and some are finding much better success blogging than others. All media are finding ways to make money and find stars online.

Assuming you want to be part of both of those, you need to do something about it.

This is particularly important for any writer, I’d say, from reporters to authors and copy-writers.

That’s because there is development to be had. Blogging involves its own voice and style, and, like any form of writing, there are many voices and styles to avoid. Those are just part of the long list of pitfalls all bloggers should avoid, why not learn them now, rather than trying to do so while on the job?

Newspapers shouldn’t be fooling around on their Web sites. That hurts their brand, I think. Rather they need to choose people who have already proved innovative on their own Web sites. When newsaperdotcoms do try something new to get more out of their Web presence, I hope the test doesn’t have your brand tightly attached to it.

Instead, hire people who are already blogging or finding the methods and value of social media. Just like younger reporters can help the dangers of the same token young-person stories, self-established multimedia journalists will look your newspaper look fresher, hipper and on stronger footing for the future.

There are lots of looks, designs, styles and patterns of performance that are well tested online but would be exciting and innovative for newspapers. Media consultant Jeff Jarvis preaches that newspapers should do what they do best and link the rest, rather than throwing resources at creating content readers are likely already going elsewhere to find, but bloggers have been doing that since 2002. College newspapers are doing excting online evergreen packages like this and this. They are being led by innovative young people who are promoting themselves online with a blog, a Web site, social networking accounts and general interest and persistence.

If you join the conversation you just might get some help.

Suzanne Yada, a journalism student at San Jose State University, is relatively new to the personal blogging scene, though no stranger to the tool. A post of hers caught the attention of Jarvis and some other new-media newspaper people, which put her in the cross hairs of old new media, Philadelphia Daily News‘s Attytood blogger Will Bunch, who linked to Yada, who, Bunch wrote, “should be offered a job upon graduation somewhere withi Philadelphia Media Holdings — if only we did that sort of thing (i.e., hire people) anymore.”

That attention will throw a ton of eyeballs to your blog, no matter the size, style or design. Lots of potential employers, sources and more. This is great, even if Bunch’s casual, kindly and complimentary mention of Yada’s employability caught a collective sigh from a collection of young underemployed bloggers and freelancers in Philly already.

The point is you mostly don’t have anything to lose, but a great deal to gain, in the way of your job search or voice search. In finding the tips that make bloging a craft, in learning about link-baiting, in, perhaps, discovering all the laws of power blogging.

You’ll learn tricks and come across real problems that are relatively new enough that newspapers are still encountering and learning from them, like what to do when someone steals your content.

It’s something that you should begin. Though I understand those who avoid the work, a regular blogging presence is something that should be in your journalism tool box.

Stick with it. Scan WordPress and Blogger accounts around the Internet. I couldn’t find any number, but I would be surprised if more than a quarter of blogs lasted six months. Learn to stay interested in your blogging and craft it. Find your voice. If you want to write professionally, you ought to be writing at least 1,000 words a day. Blogging is a helpful part of that quota that can also help garner you a name, a Web presence an a network of personal and professional connections.

Cartoon from Albany Law School.

4 thoughts on “How, why and what should a young journalist start blogging”

  1. Tell you what, I’ll strike you a deal. Should any news outlet in Philly offer me a job in some alternative universe where journalism jobs are plentiful, I’ll tell them to go to you instead. And if you get some random out-of-the-blue job offer to work in San Francisco, send ’em my way. 🙂

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