Beat Blogging Best Practices


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For journalists who want to improve the ways they communicate and report through social media, blogging and crowd sourcing.

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Beat Blogging Best Practices

  1. 1. Beat Blogging Best Practices Yes, social media tools can make you a better (and more valuable) journalist. By Melissa Coulter Quad-City Times 11.20.08
  2. 2. What you will learn today... <ul><ul><li>How to build an online community around your beat </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The basics of blogging </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How to use Twitter productively and professionally </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Which social networks and Web applications you should incorporate into your routine </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>But first, a word from Jay Rosen , journalism professor and new media provocateur at NYU. </li></ul>
  3. 3. What is beat blogging? <ul><li>Using social media to report on your beat, develop sources and story ideas and publish stories. Regular reader interaction required. </li></ul><ul><li>Here are some examples.... </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pharmalot by Ed Silverman , of the Star-Ledger </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Big Blog by Monica Guzman , Seattle Post-Intelligencer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>SciGuy by Eric Berger, Houston Chronicle </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hawkmania by Eric Page, Quad-City Times </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Out & About by Stephanie De Pasquale , Quad-City Times </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Security Fix by Brian Krebs, The Washington Post  </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Beat blogging best practices <ul><ul><li>Ask your readers, &quot;Is this a big deal?&quot; If you've got a tip or lead and you're not sure how valuable it is, put it out there to your readers. Is this impacting their lives? What else do they know?  </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>    Dallas Morning News DISD Blog by Kent Fischer </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Alternate between short and long blog posts. Use the online advantage of linking to documents as you are doing your work. Your readers may be able to point something out in the documents that you have missed. </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Beat blogging best practices <ul><ul><li>Start small and be patient. Social networks are organic. It will take a long time of writing to what feels like no one to build a following that is significant and helpful. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Build soc-net features into your site. Facebook only works with certain beats and demographics. Twitter is still catching on outside of major metro areas. So the best way to use social networks to your advantage is to build those capabilities into your own blogging site. </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Beat blogging best practices <ul><ul><li>Previews, teasers and the cutting room floor. Preview the stories you are working on, but do it close to publish date to keep from getting scooped. What you want to know is if there are any pieces to the puzzle you are not aware of. Use your blog to tease your stories and increase traffic on them. An RSS feed from your blog or Twitter can alert your followers the moment your awaited story goes online. And all those great bits you had to leave out of your print package because it was just getting too long? Those are beat blog gold. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>    </li></ul>
  7. 7. Beat blogging best practices <ul><ul><li>Break the one-way habit. Communicate with your readers or they won't come back. They are there for a conversation, not a lecture. Respond to every comment you get when you are first starting. Moderate the comments on your own stories. Take ownership of the discussions. This also makes for better behaved commenters. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>      </li></ul><ul><li>     The State Worker by Jon Ortiz, The Sacramento Bee </li></ul>
  8. 8. Beat blogging best practices <ul><ul><li>Keep the urgency. Posts that are more story-like should be copyedited, but the desk needs to understand they need to get it back to you in about 10 minutes. Comments and shorter &quot;idea&quot; posts don't need to be copyedited. It just bogs down the process. Plus, reporters are more careful with their text if they know there isn't someone there to catch all the mistakes. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Karma. Link out. Read other people's blogs and respond to them. If someone is doing something neat, point it out in your blog and link to it. Pass alongs can help build your audience, too, so pay the karma forward. </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. More beat blogging resources <ul><ul><li> Check out the weekly leaderboard and learn from people who are doing this well. Add the RSS feed to your feed reader. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>  Blogging 101 on Journalism Iconoclast </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>  Poynter's E-Media Tidbits </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>   </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. What the heck is Twitter? <ul><li>A social media service that lets users post 140-character messages from the Web, a cell phone or other application such as Twitterfox or Twhirl. You see the posts of the people you follow in your &quot;tweetstream.&quot; People who are following you see your posts. You can also send other users direct public or private messages. </li></ul><ul><li>Amy Gahran's Twitter Basics for Journalists and Recovering Journos explains it best. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Why should I join Twitter? <ul><ul><li>Network with other journalists and sources (Here's a starter list of people to follow) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ask questions and get immediate feedback </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Working out loud can keep our newsroom better connected </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Find out about breaking news fast with </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Live blog on the fly with hashtags (Check out Ron Sylvester of The Witchita Eagle tweeting from the courtroom ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Drive traffic to your blog and stories </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Here's a list of newspapers using Twitter .  </li></ul>
  12. 12. Other tools you can use <ul><ul><li>Google reader, and other feed readers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>, and other bookmarking tools </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Facebook, and other social networking tools </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Seesmic, and other video blogging tools </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cover It Live, and other live blogging tools </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Is this really worth my time? <ul><ul><li>YES! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Have a plan for how you will use social media. Tailor it to your beat. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>&quot;Thousands of contributors are better than one,&quot; as Jay Rosen said. Harness the knowledge of our community.  </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This is where journalism is heading. Learning these skills is job security. Plus, a network of followers and sources will stay with you wherever you go. </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Thanks... <ul><ul><li>To all of you for attending/reading today. Social media is not scary. You can do this! I'm here for support. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To Patrick Thornton and This presentation is a direct result of our conversation in D.C. in August. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To my Tweeps: @agahran, @moniguzman, @jiconoclast, @jayrosen_nyu, @stephromanski, @timmytims for creating and pointing out much of linked content in this presentation. </li></ul></ul>