Why we blog

Worried that the Internet and bloggers are crowding out newspapers, journalism and real journalists? (Who isn’t!) A recent blog post on reportr.net, titled How blogging creates new opportunities for journalists, offers a different perspective.

Blogger Scott Elliott, Dayton Daily NewsIn this post, Scott Elliott, an education reporter and blogger with the Dayton Daily News, tells how blogging opened up new opportunities for him…including his current role as a newspaper columnist.

“Tomorrow’s journalist will simply have to be comfortable writing online,” Elliott says, “and blogging is the best training there is for this writing style.”

He also quotes what John Robinson, editor of the Greensboro (N.C.) News-Record, had to say on his blog about hiring journalists today:

‘I ask job applicants if they have a blog. Most of them don’t. Then I ask them if they read my blog. About half of them haven’t.

‘The two questions tell me a lot about the candidates. First, if they have a blog, it gives me an indication of their passion for writing and communicating. It also allows me to see how their unedited writing reads. I rarely pay attention to submitted clips; I know how good editing can make a mediocre writer appear positively Halberstamian. Finally, in answering the question, they usually let on what they think of blogging and digital. Believe it, some trash blogs.

‘Second, if they haven’t read my blog, it tells me they haven’t done their homework. That makes the candidate a non-starter.

‘Actually, it helps winnow down the candidates pretty quickly.’

Elliott concludes: “If you’re a journalist and you are not comfortable writing for an online audience, you had better start getting there fast.”

I agree. That’s the main reason we use blogs for this class…well, that and the fact that they’re free. That also helps.

In the same vein, you might also want to read Promote yourself well, or fail, a recent post by Mindy McAdams, who teaches (and blogs about) online journalism at the University of Florida. If you do, be sure to check out her “wake-up call lecture” link, which offers some timely tips on presenting yourself online.

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Help…my blog post didn’t publish!

A couple of you have run into problems getting your assignments to publish on your blog. There is a trick to it. Here’s how Blogger works: The first time you save a blog post, clicking on the “save now” button only saves it as a draft. It does not publish it. To publish a blog post, you have to click the “publish post” button.

However, once a blog post has been published, clicking the “save now” button saves it and republishes it.

Here’s how that works. Say, for example, you publish an assignment, then click on the “view site” link to give it one final review and make sure it really published (a practice I highly recommend, by the way). When you look over your assignment, you notice an AP style error and, of course, you decide to fix it. To do that, go back to blog’s dashboard, click on the manage “posts” link, then click on the “edit” link for that blog post. (Or click on the “back” button in your browser to get back to the post management area of your blog, and click on the “edit” link from there.) Make your edit, then click on “save now” or “publish post.” Your corrected blog post replaces the flawed original. You’re happy, I’m happy. Life is good.

If you run into blog problems, let me know. Another good resource is the blogger.com help page. Here’s the URL: http://help.blogger.com/bin/static.py?page=start.cs. If you’re using a WordPress blog, the WordPress Lessons page is equally helpful.