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Blogging is your conversation October 6, 2009

Posted by Tony Randall in Blogging, Journalism.
Tags: , , ,

I’m exhorting my students to blog blog and blog some more. There is reluctance.They wonder if they have anything to say that is worth writing about.  And whether they are good enough. Some see it as just another thing to have to do, like twittering.

I’m reminded of the old but apparently not yet cold discussion about the conservatism of journalism students and what Martin Stabe termed students’ occasional ‘bah, humbug attitude to such crazy trends as blogging, podcasting and … the uncredentialed “citizen journalist”’.

And what I try to get across is not only that the more they write the  (potentially) better they get, but also that to blog is to join a conversation, to communicate. If a student aspires to become some kind of communication professional, it all makes sense.

Some of the more astute say, OK, but who’s listening? Who’s going to read my blog? A good question, because the answer is ‘the audience you make’. University students have a ready made, almost captive audience on hand if they want to reach them – their peers, right on campus. The trick is to have useful things to say, and to inform, entertain and challenge.

A blog I’ve begun recommending to students is by the shameless Penelope Trunk. She delivers a juicy treatise on how to make your blog work, and just as  importantly  she walks the walk – if you’re not too squeamish about matters highly personal and female, check out what she’s been up to these past few days. The reaction is immediate and heavyweight, and I’ll bet that PT by now has a raft of new subscribers joining her particular conversation.

OK, she’s not for everyone, but the principles are there. Post. Link. Be bright.  Be informative. Be involved and be you.



1. Martin Stabe - October 6, 2009

Maybe one way to convince reluctant students who think they “have nothing to say” is to take the pressure off by thinking of it as part of their “reading”, rather than their “writing”, process.

As the name suggests, a weblog could just start as a logs of things that caught the blogger’s interest while reading in their area of interest on web. Since every good reporter reads obsessively in the area they cover, blogging could just be an outgrowth of what they should probably be doing anyway.

By building the discipline of reading everything possible about a given subject matter and making (link-heavy) public-facing notes on it, this builds online research and monitoring skills, and, over time, expertise in that subject matter.

The outbound links from the growing blogs will also attract the attention of other bloggers with similar interests, thereby teaching how to build an online audience.

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