Do You Take Links for Granted?

As a blogger, links have been part of my daily blogging rounds. I click links on blogs to check out references and sources. And I use links on my blog posts to provide readers relevant information or alternative sources of information. Links have been so prevalent in the blogging culture that sometimes we tend to take these for granted.

However, not everyone is familiar with links, and the relevance of hyperlinking in blogging and the Web in general.

For instance, consider someone from the traditional media. How would they consider links? Would they think of links as relevant or important, even? Formal studies and print publications would usually include footnotes or even endnotes with references. Or, sources can be referenced in the bibliographies or appendices. But what about links? Well, you can’t hyperlink from paper, can you?

In fact, I have a few colleagues whose background involves traditional media of all kinds (print journalism, radio broadcasting). They’re prolific writers, yes. But in a way, they are still not that familiar with using links when writing blog posts. Or perhaps they are, but they just prefer to stick to their way of citing material. The way they reference sources and related information is a bit different. But that is not to say it’s inadequate. Being from traditional media, they tend to be able to do better research, and to dig deeper into the facts.

Referencing Jonathan Bailey’s recent post about lessons for and from journalism, I would think that effective linking is another lesson that journalists can learn from the bloggers. Having good sources and references is one thing. But giving your readers easier access to these would definitely be better, especially in a more interactive environment.

However, this should be the case for bloggers, too. Effective linking would mean using links more sensibly and reasonably, and thus ensuring the quality of the links. Just like how a journalist wouldn’t cite bogus information, we bloggers should try our best to link only to the good stuff. You wouldn’t link to a scraper site to cite information, would you?

So here’s a challenge I pose to our dear readers. Whenever you see a hyperlink on a blog or a webpage, don’t just click on it blindly. Try to think about the relevance of that link. Why was it there in the first place? What was the intent of the author? Is it relevant at all? Is it even appropriate?

The search engines have been looking into quality of linkages (both inbound and outbound). Shouldn’t we humans start doing the same?

Blogging Lessons For and From Journalism

As the proud holder of a journalism degree, I am always looking for ways to connect what I’ve learned both in school and in previous jobs to my blogging.

The fact is that blogging and traditional news reporting are actually closer to one another than many would like to admit. They both involve many of the same elements including, finding stories, researching them, writing the article, crafting the headline and finding supporting media.

So what do professional journalists have to teach bloggers, especially new/amateur ones and what can bloggers teach the print world about online media?

As it turns out, there is a great deal for both sides to learn, if they are willing to listen.

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Picking The Best Practices From Old Media To Empower New Media


journalist.jpgThe blogosphere is ever in motion, one could write Yoda haiku on that topic. The swift turns means that anyone not wanting to end up second or third (or worse!) on a story need to make quick calls on whether to jump on it or not.

That could have been an explanation, had I or one of my dear writers here at The Blog Herald screwed up and reported something phony.

Which we have, in a way. We reposted the news that Twitter was testing ads, a story that TechCrunch broke, and have been denied by the Twitter folks. Sure, it is a denial that would make sense even if the story was true, but in this case I do believe that it is a sincere “no, we’re not doing ads on Twitter” due to the fact that the source have admitted that it was a mistake.

That’s not the point of this post.
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Does live blogging create better journalists?

Many of us are familiar with the live blogging of an event, and indeed may have done it from time to time.

An interesting article at Poynter Online claims that live blogging can improve journalists’ skills.

Ben Walker, an Associated Press journalist, spoke of how he wanted to share the interesting “micro details” at the end of a sports match, but felt it wasn’t newsworthy enough for a whole column. That’s when he added to his AP live blog entry.

“You see something funny or interesting,” Walker said, “and you think bang, I just want to pop something out right this second.”

He believes that journalists who partake in some form of live blogging can improve their skills. Your powers of observation are doubled and tripled when you live blog,” Walker said. “You see things and look for things that you would not not look for in a story. You might look at a situation in a different way, and you might listen for a different type of quote.”

Sports writer Greg Auman live blogs most of his games. “I find that live blogging keeps you more aware of the stories developing during a game,” Auman said. “You’re constantly having to come up with complete thoughts and analysis about an incomplete game.”

“The challenge with live blogging is obviously paying as much attention to the game as you can while writing throughout. And it’s a little harder to do during a night football game when there’s tight deadlines that often call for a story to be filed as soon as the game ends,” Auman said. “Again, a good live blog helps focus a game story for the next day’s paper — it’s harder to overlook things and easier to remember the key points you want to squeeze into a comprehensive game story.”

Of course, what immediately springs to mind — and how the article develops — is microblogging using services such as Twitter.

Finally, as I can vouch for the few times that I’ve live blogged an event, Charles Apple, a graphic artist, said that he’s been told that he makes live blogging look easy.

“That’s definitely not the case,” he said. “Blogging is a lot of hard work. You’re typing narrative, uploading photos, doing some light coding. It’s difficult to do all this and a.) remain engaged in whatever session is going on, and b.) without distracting anyone sitting near you.”

He’s intoxicated by the immediacy of live blogging, and the fact that hundreds or thousands of people can be following the updates in real time.

On the other side of the coin, the nature of live blogging is such that it can be hard to craft eloquent, typo free prose. It’s usually more important to get across the main points as quickly as possible. Whether this aspect makes you a better writer is debatable.

What do you think?

(Via Poynter)

Create a Style Guide for Your Blog

Consistency is critical for success in blogging. Though trying new things is important, if a blog finds itself drifting in voice, style and quality, it can lose readers and reputation seemingly overnight.

But maintaining consistency is almost impossible over the long haul, especially for blogs with multiple authors. As humans, it is our tendency to change and our writing styles will inevitably reflect that. Even blogs with just one author, eventually, run into the issue of their old posts looking and sounding nothing like their new.

To help keep that disjunct to a minimum and ensure consistency both between authors and over time, many blogs have begun to adopt a tool from the world of print media, style guides. These guides help lay down some fundamental rules for writing and work to create a single style for the site, without trampling on the voice of the author or authors.

Virtually any blog can benefit from a good style guide, especially those that seek to provide news or some other form of information, and best of all, creating a style guide is a very simple process. All one has to do is think about a few variables and, essentially, write down how they do things now.

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Guardian, Salon journalists start daily video blogs on Current TV

A number of journalists working at the UK’s Guardian newspaper, and at Salon, will begin daily vlogging (video blogging) on Current TV, Al Gore’s integrated TV and web platform.

The Guardian is already well advanced in the use of online media and blogging, and Salon is a well-established online media publication, so it seems like a natural progression into video.

“When we were approached by Current TV we knew that their profile and outlook was highly compatible with the Guardian,” said Emily Bell, director of digital content, Guardian News & Media.

The advantage of partnering with Current TV is that the content will be broadcast on UK cable and satellite TV, packaged for the web, and be used on the content owners’ web sites.

“We are very excited about the partnership and think it will bring our journalism to a wider audience and help us showcase our best blogging talent in a video format,” Bell continued.


3 in 4 UK journalists think online media will overtake traditional within 5 years

The results of a recent UK survey suggests that the media landscape is changing rapidly. More traditional media companies are generating exclusive online content, allowing user generated content (UGC), blogging, and offering multimedia.

Though only 47 journalists, from a variety of organisations, completed the survey, it still provides some interesting insights.

Only 2% of those said they worked for a media company who did not have some kind of online presence, and while over half of respondents said that their traditional print or broadcast presence still drew the biggest audience, 20% said that their online presence pulled in the most readers. One-sixth of those who answered said that their organisation only had an online presence.

Nearly a quarter said that up to 20% of the content produced online was original, rather than ported across from existing offline content. A further 22% said that between 20 and 40 per cent was original, 11% saying 41-60%, 2% saying 61-80%, and 8.9% saying 81-100%.

Nearly three-quarters said that their organisation offered journalist-authored blogs, while one in five said they allowed user-generated blogs. 65% offered TV and video clips, 63% podcasts, 43% video podcasts, and 65% discussion boards. Less than one in five said they offered none of the listed features.

Nearly 90% of respondents said that they allowed users to comment on online stories, while nearly half said they would publish user pictures. Three in ten said they regularly quoted bloggers (hopefully with attribution?) and one in ten said they regularly featured third-party bloggers on their site. Only 9% said they allowed no UGC except for more traditional methods.

When it came to training in generating and working with new media content, 65% said they’d had none. Nearly 9% said they had video presenting training, with a similar number having had audio/podcast training. 13% had “writing for the web” training while just 4% said they’d had specific blogging training. Unfortunately, there’s no way of telling just how good that training was.

Moving to the world of PR, nearly all those who responded said that PR companies should email press releases, while around one in five said they should offer social media news releases.

Three in ten journalists believe that online media has already become the most important channel for their media organisation. One in ten said that it would likely become so within the year. 35% said within five years, and 13% said within 10 years. Only 13% said they thought that it never would.

Journalists believe that they now have to work harder, longer hours, as they were expected to produce more content across multiple platforms. One-third said they were expected to create video content, while 30% said they now had less time to research stories, and 44% used blogs as a key new source of stories.

Some interesting insights into the changing shape of media, and the growing importance on blogging and bloggers.

The complete report can be found at (free registration required)

Bloggers face same censorship from repressive regimes as journalists, study suggests

The latest annual study from Reporters Without Borders suggests that bloggers are now just as much at risk from censorship by repressive regimes as journalists and reporters in traditional media are.

They claim that many governments now realise that the Internet is a powerful force for promoting democracy and are finding ways of suppressing anyone who challenges their authority.

At the bottom of the world rankings for overall press freedom came the African nation of Eritrea:

“The privately-owned press has been banished by the authoritarian President Issaias Afeworki and the few journalists who dare to criticise the regime are thrown in prison. We know that four of them have died in detention and we have every reason to fear that others will suffer the same fate,” said the organisation in a statement.

Close behind came North Korea and Turkmenistan. China is also low down on the list (164th), having imprisoned fifty people based upon postings made online.

The report suggests that, at present, at least 64 people are imprisoned worldwide because of views they have expressed on the Internet. Eight of them are in Vietnam.

European countries performed well, with Iceland in first position, followed by Norway and Estonia. However, Russia languishes is 144th position, and is “not progressing” according to the report.

The US came in 48th position.

Of course, this report looks at how those in all areas of the media are treated, but it’s worth noting that bloggers are now very much on the radar.

Reporters Sans Frontieres article (via BBC News)

Google News Courting The Best Of The Blogosphere?

It seems that after a brief suspension, Google is once again including bloggers as sources after previously removing them from Google News.

Google, often known for experimenting everything to the “nth degree,” seems to have made up its mind that separating blogs and news sites was not a good idea after all.

Despite launching a blog search engine designed primarily for–well–blogs, Google seems to be recognizing that bloggers are not merely giving their second hand opinion of the news, but often times breaking it to the world as well.
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Internet course to teach blogging to Caribbean journalists

The Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication has announced the launch of an Internet-based course for journalists who have at least two years of professional working experience behind them.

The course, open to broadcast, online, and print journalists, will focus upon the writing and visual skills required to publish blogs for a Caribbean audience, and will lead to a Certificate in Online Journalism qualification.

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