Some Journalists Are Bloggers

…But, unfortunately, not all bloggers are journalists.

In the last decade, it’s hard to come by anyone who doesn’t manage a blog. As such, there has been an increasingly startling debate over what matters and what doesn’t. Who matters and who doesn’t.

With everyone and their mother blogging, there exists a blur between traditional journalism and modern blogging. Are journalism and blogging one in the same? The answer is emphatically NO. The hard news slapped across the New York Times is certainly not the same as your cousin’s “Jersey Shore” blog.

What is responsible for this?

The main issue at hand seems to be the shift in balance of power -a shift between the content producers and the content consumers. In the past, a journalism career was one of high esteem and not granted to just anybody. Think Edward R. Murrow and his dedication to the hard facts of a newscast – the truth- and proper delivery.

It’s unfortunate, but not every blog possesses writer credibility. Nor, does every blog warrant readership in the same sense that fine journalism does. The problem is when the “fluff” of mindless blogs overshadows the substance of tried and true journalistic blogging.

However, since everyone and their mother feel compelled to become “content producers,” they might as well learn a helpful thing or two:

It’s All About The “Lead”
I took a Media course my first year of college where we spent weeks just discussing and writing leads on the fly. The lead, or headline, is ultimately the deciding factor in whether an individual commits to reading your piece. Blogging is no different. Write compelling headlines that force the reader to consider your post.

Write leads that are captivating and unique
Ask questions
Be funny
Be memorable
Write leads that leave the individual asking, “what next???”

Be positive
Both figuratively and literally. More than anything, journalistic writing possesses a sense of truth and honesty. However, don’t use words like “doesn’t” or “hasn’t” to describe a person, place, or thing. DO use words that describe the relativity of what actually IS about a scenario.

Utilize the Active Voice

“I wrote a blog about why blogging is awesome.” – ACTIVE

“The blog about why blogging is awesome was written by me.” – PASSIVE

Which one is more compelling? It should be obvious after a few examples that active voices are much more authoritative and warrant more attention. In blogging, using the active voice is a desirable thing because it almost forces the reader to read.

Grammar is ALWAYS Admired

Yes, we’ve discussed the often informal nature of blogs. This is true and it is certainly indicative of the majority of blogs. However, there’s a difference between writing conversationally (yet honestly) and speaking in Ebonics. The latter will certainly not fly in the journalistic blogging world. So, mind your spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

If you’re citing hard facts, getting verification from the truth is always desirable, especially when the facts just don’t add up. The Internet is more prone to false and scandalous gossip than an issue of Us Weekly magazine. Biased news stories and falsified celebrity hookups and deaths are likely to be conjured up, and even more likely to multiply rampantly across the web.

Be Unique
Much like the previous “lead” concept, the notion of originality is widely accepted and desired by readers. No plagiarism or blatant theft of content! First of all, you’ll get caught and punished by the almighty Google (as discussed in previous posts). Second, your conscience will eat you alive.

Use Quotes and Citations
Yes, we will revisit college days, the lovely Works Cited and in-text citations. In all honesty, real quotes build credibility and strengthen a story. Paying credit to the thoughts of others is also something that is considered best practice, considering the idea is not yours to simply take. Sometimes it can be vague to know when, where, and whom to cite. A professor once taught me a little trick that has stuck with me ever since:

If you didn’t think of that idea, it’s not yours. Cite it.

It works and it is always better safe than sorry. So, attribute credit where credit’s due!

You never know when someone will be citing you for some of your stellar ideas. 🙂