Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

Columns and blogs 2010

551 views

Published on

A 2010 update of my lecture on column and blog writing
Contains useful tips on style

Published in: News & Politics, Education
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

Columns and blogs 2010

  1. 1. Columns and blogs<br />Advice for the beginning enthusiast<br />http://ethicalmartini.wordpress.com<br />Martin Hirst<br />
  2. 2. Columns and blogs: same beast, different spots<br />Appear in print<br />A formality of language<br />Can have a variety of purpose<br />Can vary in tone and voice<br />Is stand-alone<br />Is text and still images or graphics<br />Is ephemeral<br />Published online<br />More personal language<br />Can have a variety of purpose<br />Can vary in tone and voice<br />Can link to other content<br />Can have multimedia content embedded<br />Has longevity<br />Columns<br />Blogs<br />
  3. 3. The purpose and the point<br /><ul><li>To convey the writer’s opinion
  4. 4. To offer a fresh perspective on the news of the day
  5. 5. To argue a point and convince readers
  6. 6. To challenge accepted wisdom
  7. 7. To amuse and/or entertainthe reader
  8. 8. To validate the writer’spoint of view
  9. 9. To validate the reader’spoint of view</li></li></ul><li>Never be boring<br />In all cases there is one cardinal sin; being boring.<br />The columnist must have something to say and appealing style that captures the reader and demands a reaction…<br />Everyone has one column, maybe six, in them.<br />But column writing week in and week out, let alone at more regular intervals, is demanding professional work.<br />[Al Morison, Intro, p. 309]<br />
  10. 10. Types of columns<br />Opinion piece: a regular spot in the publication for commentaries on the issues of the day<br />The journalistic column: the accent is on news and analysis, colour, background and context<br />Personal: viewpoints and opinions that don’t always or necessarily relate to news or topics of the day<br />Gossip: amusing insights about public figures, or snippets from the social diary<br />
  11. 11. The opinion column<br />A regular spot – usually in a newspaper<br />Focus on news agenda – informed commentary<br />Express a strong point-of-view<br />Some are regular:<br />Finlay McDonald<br />Michael Laws<br />Guest spots – notable individuals<br />Academics, politicians, experts<br />
  12. 12. Journalistic column<br />Typically weekly<br />Often about key issues of the day<br />Senior reporter<br />Makes a point about actions of central figure in the news<br />Less formal style than news<br />Establishes reporter’s credibility over time<br />
  13. 13. Personal column<br />Personal columns have a wide range of topics<br />Wine, food, family, children, sport, film, theatre, television<br />Review-style columns are common<br />Rely on a particular “device” for effect<br />Often attempt to be humorous<br />IMHO this genre is overdone and most of the time lazy<br />
  14. 14. Think it through<br />Find a topic(current events, cultural/social/political ‘happenings’, topical controversies, wry observation of the ‘human condition’)<br />Use your voice(obviously active, but what else…)<br />Use your imagination(devices to add interest: humour, quotes, anecdotes and personal experiences DON’T OVER DO IT!)<br />Invite readers in(art of conversation)<br />Write for yourself(If you’re not interested and excited, why should we care?)<br />
  15. 15. How do you write a column?<br />Start with an idea – a point you want to make<br />Gather the facts<br />Outline a structure – develop a plan<br />Which bit of the story will you start with?<br />Do you want to make a dramatic entrance<br />Can you capture the reader with humour or shock-value<br />The opening par must have a good ‘hook’<br />Know where you want to go – define your end point<br />The conclusion is as important as the lead<br />Remember it’s not the inverted pyramid<br />Hour-glass structure or more narrative style is acceptable<br />Use lively and entertaining language – but use it well<br />
  16. 16. Choosing a topic<br /><ul><li>A column or blog can be about practically anything
  17. 17. Select something that you are knowledgeable about,or willing to learn about
  18. 18. Be prepared to do some research – facts are important to back your opinions
  19. 19. If you have a passion or special interest – how can you make it relevant and exciting
  20. 20. Establish your personality early on
  21. 21. Pick something that’sfun for you</li></ul>Comment is free, but facts are sacred.<br />Charles Prestwich Scott, editor Manchester Guardian 1872—1929 <br />
  22. 22. Structure<br />Lead – unlike a news story, a columnlead can be delayed or less formal<br />Tell the reader what it’s about<br />Background / justificationfor your point<br />Take the reader someplace else<br />Explain / present your newinformation and insights<br />Expand on detail<br />Complete the circle<br />Finish with a twist<br />
  23. 23. What is your ‘voice’<br />A writer's “voice” is what we “hear” in our head as we read.<br />This helps us to form a mental image of the writer and their point of view.<br />Our response to the voice also shapes our response to the text.<br />“Like” / “dislike”<br />“Agree” / “disagree”<br />Mode of address:<br />First person “I”<br />Second person “You”<br />Third person “Someone else”<br />Consistency:<br />Mode of address<br />Distance<br />Formal / informal<br />Ethos / Logos / Pathos<br />Author’s viewpoint<br />Appeal to reason<br />Appeal to emotion<br />(author reader)<br />
  24. 24. A sense of style<br />clarity and correctness of the Strunk and White kind<br />style as a synonym for flair or verve(colour, movement, action, vocabulary, insight)<br />that which is distinguished and distinguishing about a particular writer<br />style has a strong unconscious element(but you need to think about it!)<br />expression in subtle deviations from the norm that somehow suit the way you see the world and feel comfortable expressing yourself(Ben Yagoda – Poynter interview)<br />
  25. 25. Blogging for beginners<br />NZ journalism students who regularly visit blogs<br />A blog is a personal diary <br />A daily pulpit <br />A collaborative space <br />A political soapbox <br />A breaking-news outlet<br />A collection of links<br />Your own private thought<br />Memos to the world<br />(Blogger.com)<br />NZ journalism students who maintain their own blog<br />Hirst & Treadwell (2010)<br />
  26. 26. Getting started<br />Blogs are not too different from columns<br />They are slightly easier<br />Self-published<br />Good “sand pit” to develop writing skills and voice’<br />A social activity with friends or colleagues<br />Reputation<br />Establish yourself as a professional <br />Income<br />Promoting yourself as a freelancer <br />Social activity<br />Sharing ideas and opinions?<br />Development<br />Practice your writing and develop a voice?<br />Blogging is easy and fun<br />What is your blog for?<br />
  27. 27. Ideas and content<br />Keep a list of ideas – make notes on news stories etc like you would in a story notebook<br />Identify a need – do some research<br />Imagine a reader – who are you talking too?<br />Get out of the echo chamber – be original<br />What matters to you – express your passion<br />Be topical – timeliness<br />Don’t overload the post with too many ideas<br />
  28. 28. Writing and linking<br />Remember the headline is crucial (post title)<br />Controversy and debate<br />Ask a question<br />Key words (nouns / verbs) + power words (adjectives/description and emotion)<br />Humour, wit, quips and puns<br />Leads and openings – think like a journalist<br />Hook<br />Answer your question<br />Tease – anecdote, etc<br />Paint a picture<br />Details and facts / colour and movement<br />Use lists and examples<br />
  29. 29. Deepening the reader experience<br />Use analogy (‘like’), anecdotes and metaphor<br />Case studies<br />Use informed opinion<br />Discuss different points of view (answer critics)<br />Add quotes<br />Do an interview<br />Add links to relevant content<br />Illustrate – original photos are good<br />
  30. 30. Exercise your brain<br />Regular writing exercises improve boththinking capacity and eye-hand coordination<br />Writing often helps sharpen your focusand establish your voice or point-of-view<br />Start with things your know about<br />Read widely and often<br />Read good writers, analyse their styleand structural tricks<br />Develop an interest or specialitybased on your own passions<br />Build your expertise<br />Experiment with different styleson the same piece<br />

×