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Dispelling prejudices upon entering the blogosphere

I approached this task with a skepticism bordering on sheer reluctance.

You see, to me at least, the concept of blogging evoked brooding teens and a population of vegan-recipe-swapping leisure-class females.

Perhaps I was thinking of Pinterest.

Anyway, quick research revealed that my view of blogging was outdated.

Oh, I’m quite sure that pregnant women are still swapping sewing patterns for elasticated pants on Tumblr, but the frontiers of the blogosphere have been commandeered by an altogether more intellectual and opinionated crowd:

Writers.

I’ve been living in a cave, according to Mark Glaser (and so has anyone else who “still believes that bloggers are one breed and journalists are another”).

Now that I’m a student journalist, not only do I have to vacate my cave, but I’m expected to join this online frenzy. “Student journalists have no excuse [to not have a blog]. Get a blog. Get writing. Get used to it.” Credit to Adam Westbrook for that wakeup call.

I like Mindy Mcadams’s metaphor of the blogosphere as a giant network of nodes (I admit, I initially misread “nodes” for “noses” and was baffled for several seconds by the notion of an online hongi).

A sense of interconnectivity is promoted amongst major bloggers – both individuals and media organisations. Indeed, Westbrook points out that “the thing that actually makes a blog a blog (and not a normal web page) is its RSS feed, which identifies each individual post as part of a larger series and delivers new posts to peoples’ newsreaders or inboxes.” (Side note: I still haven’t figured out how to use an RSS feed – feel free to enlighten me in the comments section).

So, what makes a good news blog? I consulted Annabel Candy’s blog for handy hints on “effective blog habits”, and her contributors provided – in my opinion – the most insightful tip of all: “Having a thick skin” is integral to being a successful blogger.

I’ll admit that I’m still struggling to place the light-hearted, often-personal culture of blogging within the realm of “hard-news” journalism.

What makes a good news blog?

Just today, I stumbled upon a recent post by our own Russell Brown on Public Address; it begins:

“Hello! I wrote up the following for this week’s Media3, but it didn’t make the cut. I thought it might make for a conversation-starter here…”

Although Brown’s facetiously self-deprecating comment suggests second-rate material, this post wasn’t necessarily unworthy of official publication. It was simply more suited to the multi-directional, multi-media platform of social critique that the blogosphere provides.

Not all bloggers are journalists, but almost all new journalists are bloggers. But, what does this mean for “news” in its traditional sense?

I’m not sure, exactly, how one should go about separating and appropriating their media “presence” to cater for today’s complex news industry.

How do journalists succeed at blogging while maintaining their status as credible, impartial observers?

Cartoon by Alex Gregory, New York Times

Cartoon by Alex Gregory

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