Citizen Media Watch

oktober 22nd, 2008

More conversation needed on journalists' blogs

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

On too many blogs written by Swedish journalists you see people commenting but the journalist never replies. They use a platform built on conversation as yet another megaphone, ignoring their readers. What journalists turned bloggers need to understand is that providing a space for comments is not enough – if you want to be taken seriously as a blogger you need to get involved with your former audience, not just invite them to chat amongst themselves.

Over the past week, Paul Bradshaw over at Online Journalism Blog has been publishing a series of posts based on a survey he’s conducted with 200 blogging journalists from 30 countries, mentioned ealier here at Citizen Media Watch.
The aim of the study was to find out how the journalists perceive that their work has changed after they became bloggers. The areas of interest are idea generation, information gathering and production, with the addition of the relationship with the (former) audience and post-publication.

Today the final post was published along with the conclusions from the survey. I do recommend reading all the posts about it. The results shows variations in responses depending on what field the journalists cover and in what medium.

For a summary, what the journalists perceived had changed were:
– their understanding of their audience’s wants and needs (through feedback and stats) and an improved relationship with the audience
– their work-process, which included the former audience in the research phase before a story was published, as a ”two-way, ongoing process”, sometimes crowdsourcing
– they thought more about multimedia and interactivity, and published more multimedia material
– a wider range of news sources, and with that a deeper understanding of how trust is built online
– a greater need for speed, sometimes beneficial, sometimes resulting in publishing rumours
– they said they are digging deeper than before
– writing looser, more personal and less formal
– they broke news on the blog first, then followed up in their traditional medium
– possibilities of exploring ”minor” stories that barely made it into their traditional medium
– more linking to external sources/stories
– stories last longer, as the conversation with the former audience lives on and generates new angles/leads
– an increased tendency to use microblogging and social bookmarking to draw attention to a story
– they appreciate other bloggers more than before

The part I found the most interesting was the bit about the conversation. I’ve long been talking about the changed role of the journalist, and being interested in what your commenters have to say, and responding to it, is key.

Bradshaw writes:

The ability to enter into correspondence with users, to fix errors and post updates were frequently identified as changing journalistic work, turning on its head Lowrey’s sugestion that bloggers “often emphasise immediacy and opinion at the expense of accuracy” (2006) and that journalism would protect itself by focusing on editing; responses suggest that, conversely, journalists are relying on commenters to contribute to the editing process.

Without an interest in the audience, blogging is not a conversation. Without conversation, you’re missing some of the great opportunities that blogging brings.


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