August 12, 2009

Blogger advises news staff to "Blog it or report it"

Gordon Young, a freelance journalist who blogs as The Flint Expatriates, gives four hints to help The Flint Journal help its readers know the difference between a blog post and an article that happens to be online.

Perhaps his distance will encourage staff to think about shaping the blogs into blogs.

Young suggests:
  • Hire a blogger or two to comment and aggregate on what the reporters are doing. I'd amend it to to aggregate what the community is saying, too. I prefer drinking filtered water, not fresh from the river at times, and had high hopes that Blogging and Talking would continue.
  • Make the blogs look different from the rest of the online site. In other words, let the personality shine through.
  • Stop running hard news in blogs. In some cases, I think a blog can break hard news if the blogger has developed the story. At The Flint Journal, there's a better way to present news. I think that even the name of some of the blogs indicates the lack of a clear vision for what to expect.
  • Let bloggers use news from all sources. Actually, from what I can tell the bloggers are using all sources. I'm just not sure they know how to mine the Internet efficiently. There's even less time available to learn what others are doing, or to pick up skills like linking and condensing what others say.
The ideas of the altering the site's looks are out of the hands of even the upper management. Young, of course, is not the first to criticize the site for its navigation problems and looks. At least four Advance Publications were heavily criticized in June in "Rating the Top 25 Newspaper Websites" for their template-driven problems.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer, for instance, was given a D+. That grade was partly because "The editors seem to be throwing darts to decide what content takes priority."

I'll even take some of the blame for the news organization's site since I pushed using the blogging software to get all of the content online instead of sticking with the previous shovelware methods.

Don't expect changes soon. There's a software upgrade in the works, judging by the items I'm stumbling into because of my past work with the news organization.

By the way, it's also good that Gordon didn't see a recent print editon that had a blog post right in the middle of a newprint page. Doubletake time when an unbylined article started out like this:
"We'll have to wait to find out more about Joe Serra's potential involvement in the new Saturn. "Online, it was posted in a blog.

Head to the Young's post as I merely summed up his points.


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