News Leadership 3.0

September 25, 2008

Blogging: Vitamins for the brain

Blogging helps this writer
learn, think and grow
What does blogging do for you?

Technorati this week has a five-part series entitled “The State of the Blogosphere” that is well worth a look.

Part 2, “The What and Why of Blogging,” with findings from a survey of 1,000 bloggers, challenges stale stereotypes of bloggers as people who rant for hits:

“Half of bloggers consider their style to be sincere, conversational, humorous and expert. Although there is a perception of blogging as a means for writing a tell-all or gossiping, ‘snarky’ and ‘confessional’ fell to the bottom of the list of self-described styles among the bloggers that we surveyed.”

Bloggers in the survey have seen benefits from their blogging:

“The majority of bloggers openly expose their identities on their blogs and recognize the positive impact that blogging has on their personal and professional lives. More than half are now better known in their industry and one in five have been on TV or the radio because of their blog. Blogging has brought many unique opportunities to these bloggers that would not have been available in the pre-blog era.’‘

Even accounting for the idealized view we all express in surveys, these findings rang true to me as a reader of dozens of blogs each week. Reading the Technorati series got me thinking about what I’ve gained from writing this blog (now nearly six months along). Of course, positive feedback and challenging comments top the list (More! More!).

But I think a significant benefit for me is this: Blogging challenges me to keep learning

Let’s face it, any 50-something, 30-year print newspaper veteran carries significant baggage and likely wears wide blinders. One option is to retire, mentally, if not officially. Another is to hew to tradition and go down fighting. A third is to take the best of what you’ve learned over the decades, open it up to challenges, think through what needs to change with the new and what traditions must adapt and live on.

If you are a top editor at a traditional news organization that is striving to go online, I hope you are choosing the third course. Part of my third-door formula: Read blogs, talk with the Web savvy, rethink (push back that reflexive judgment), learn and grow. Blogging does that for me. Knowing I will post two or three times a week, makes me seek information from wider sources and think more broadly about how to support journalism in the digital age.

I encourage editors to try it, and discover your own benefits. If you’re looking for an editor role model, check out the blog of John Robinson, editor of the News-Record in Greensboro, N.C. And here’s a post about the value of blogging from John Hassell, online editor at The Star-Ledger in Newark.

Bloggers, please help build a list of blogging benefits and another of blogging challenges. Add your ideas in comments.

 

Comments

I’m a 50-something, 30-year print newspaper veteran. I work in online, and it’s the best. I use all my skills: reporting, writing, editing, headline writing ... even the forgotten art of rewrite. I’ve learned new skills. I work in all disciplines: news, sports, business, entertainment. It feeds my competitive juices. (Oh, I still love beating other media.) I have a blog at work. I have three more at home.

Anytime I doubt the wisdom moving to online, I just go to a news meeting and hear them talk about how they’re playing a story in the print edition that will hit the streets in 14 hours ... a story I’ve had on the Web for the last 6 hours. Yesterday’s news tomorrow!

It isn’t just 50/30s that have their head in the sand, either. I see plenty of 30/10s and 25/5s who are inexplicably reluctant to embrace digital.


Evandad: Thanks for sharing your experience. I agree—it’s not always a function of age. Some of the happiest and most productive journalists I know are the experienced ones who have taken their skills online and found new energy in their work.


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Exploring innovation, transformation and leadership in a new ecosystem of news, by journalist and change advocate Michele McLellan.

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