I learned some valuable lessons in journalism last summer. To my surprise, my teacher was not some “celebrity” journalist with years of media experience under his belt.
He was a blogger.
I started my summer internship at Revelife.com with minimal blogging knowledge. My short-lived adolescent attempt at a blog became a venue for teen angst and mindless drivel. I never thought that bloggers were important, and I saw no connection between blogging and journalism.
When I told Eric about my interest in journalism, he encouraged me to write some news-based posts. I was up to the task, and was thrilled to be one of the first people to report on breaking Christian news. In that sense, I was not only a blogger, but also a journalist.
Throughout the summer, Eric offered me some blogging tips that can also apply to journalism:
1) Make sure you include keywords in your headline. In blogging and online journalism alike, people usually only click on an article if the topic appeals to them. I remember when one of my fellow interns wrote an article entitled “A Sports Role Model” that failed to generate views and comments. As soon as Eric changed the title to “Is Tim Tebow a Sports Role Model?” the comment count more than doubled.
2) Write how you speak. Blogs (and news articles) are not dissertations. The more conversational your language is, the more interested — and willing to comment — your readers are going to be.
3) Follow up on successful posts. If one topic captures readers’ interests, keep writing about it, but take it from a different angle each time.
4) Talk to your fellow bloggers (or journalists) about what works and what doesn’t. Eric, my fellow interns and I met weekly to discuss the last few front page posts and what made the successful ones successful.
I’ve begun to apply some of these tips to my Spectrum articles — and I’ve noticed improvement in my writing. (I still have a way to go, though.)
Moral of the story: Journalists, don’t bash the bloggers. They can teach you just as much as you can teach them.