The assessment task for this bit of the Essential Journalism module is to work together in groups to create a small blogzine and run it live for a week.
Today, to get you started on thinking about this, we're going to look at some of the commercial blogs and blog networks out there, to give you some idea of the kinds of things you could do. Here's a few links to look at:
Have a look at a few of these sites. Some don't seem very blog-like any more – some are still very bloggy…They have that reverse chronology of posts and the blog layout and look and feel.
Successful commercial blogs are often either very niche or specialist or they target an audience that's particularly attractive to advertisers or they feature a distinctive perspective or voice…
At the moment, have a look at a few of these sites and think about what kind of group blog you'd like to work on. We'll talk about it a bit in class.
You'll find lots of advice online on how to blog. A lot of the stuff was written to get traffic and rehashes some basic standard advice, plus a little bit of basic search engine optimisation… This post from Problogger is pretty representative of a lot of what's out there. It's OK, I suppose, but doesn't take you that far. So it's worth reading round a bit – beyond the first page of results on Google for searches on blogging. There are lots of useful blogging tips online. Here's a few to start with:
- Web Designer Depot on how to blog effectively
- Camilla Chafer – freelance journalist/blogger on how to make your blog successful
- Ex-BBC head of blogging Robin Hamman on how to get started blogging
- Todd Sieling's Slow Blogging manifesto
- Roy Peter Clark's 25 non-random things about writing short
- Boing Boing having some fun with the ten worst types of blog posts – I talked about some of these in the presentation today
- Finally – some more general stuff – Journalism.co.uk on how to write for the web
Here's a few blogs to look at:
- The Sartorialist
- Perez Hilton
- Random Acts of Reality
- Shiny Style
- Tech Dirt
- Online Journalism Blog
- Nick Robinson's Newslog
- Talking Points Memo
- Go Fug Yourself
- Collision Detection
- Guido Fawkes
- PDA – The Digital Content Blog
- Baghdad Burning
- Where is Raed?
- Alpha Mummy
Some of these are blogs I read. Some are blogs I read about quite a lot. A few are now defunct. Some of them have grown way beyond what we think of as blogs.
Pick a few and read them for a while – scroll back through a few days of posts and try to work out who the blog you're reading is aimed at. Think about how it differs from conventional media, from newspapers and magazines in particular. How does the writing differ? Does it relate to its audience in a different way?
Ask yourelf – what sort of blog is this? A sensibility blog? A media filter? A commercial niche blog? Media critique? See if you can categorise it in some way.
Then why not try writing a short analysis of the blog on your blog – say what kind of blog it is, what type of posts it runs, how often it updates and what you think of it… Link to the blog and to specific posts as part of your analysis.
More Scott Rosenberg – this time a whole lecture connected to 'Say Anything', his book on blogging. The full talk is online, courtesy of Fora.tv and is worth a watch if you're interested in how blogging developed.
If you want a quick sample, his 'Ten Myths about Blogs' is good.
I might play this in today's session on blogging – Scott Rosenberg on the pointlessness of trying to identify the first blogger. Nice ideas though a rather naff video…
The first Multimedia Journalism sessions is about blogging and online journalism. The aim is to get you to set up a blog and then have a go at writing something. You'll use the blog to document the work you do over the course of the module. I'll explain in class today.
To set up your blog, go to WordPress and sign up. It's free and easy to sort out. Jim will go through this in the class. You need to create an account with WordPress. They will send you an email asking you to verify and activate your account. Once you do, you can get started.
We'll try writing a post today too. The simplest thing to do would be to summarise and respond to a current news story – on whatever subject interests you. We'll talk about this in class today.
When it comes to laying out your post on your blog – you need to make sure your story is easy to read on screen. If you want to look at an example of a standard online news story, written and laid out for online consumption, why not look at Cruise captain 'committed errors', one of the top stories today on BBC News.
Here's a few blogs we might look at in class, either for stories or inspiration:
There's lot of advice online about how to blog. One place to start migth be The Guardian's guidelines re blogging and commenting and also this interesting post by Azi Paybarah, a blogger working for NPR in the States, re a tutorial he did on how to blog – the slideshow is interesting.
We're going to mess around a bit with Twitter today – here are a few links you might find useful:
Twitpic - one of the various services that let you link to pictures in tweets
Twitterfeed - this lets you turn your RSS feed into a series of tweets
Nearby Tweets - this lets you see who's tweeting in your area
Here are a few more Twitter search tools:
Finally something that just looks nice – A World of Tweets