The role of blogs and other forms of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, have never been as relevant in journalism as they are today. They allow for instantaneous connection with millions of people over the World Wide Web. For students studying journalism and pursuing a career in this sector, a blog is a great tool to begin reporting on matters that are important and spike public interest, therefore obtaining experience in the reporting of various affairs, as well as creating a name for themselves.
The first point to be made is really how simple the creation of a blog is. It takes no more than a few short minutes, and is absolutely free. According to the March 2008 edition of the Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents by Reporters Without Borders, 120 000 news blogs are set up everyday. WordPress itself is available in over 120 languages, making it accessible to most individuals.
The use of Twitter is also increasingly widespread, where some politicians even have their own Twitter accounts. After hopping onto the Twitter bandwagon, the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, stated, “In this modern world you have got to use every means to try and communicate your message and explain to people why you are doing it. You’ve got to get with the programme, I suppose.”
The same can be said for blogging. Journalism students, as well as journalists can interact with the news consumers, and others who share common interests. This current trend of blogging and using social media comes with the evolution of technology. As newspapers diminish, online news is becoming the dominant news source. Many individuals are embracing this change and creating accounts of their own.
Another reason why student journalists should consider starting their own blog is the fact that it is a great way to gain experience. Currently a technology and media reporter at the Guardian, Josh Halliday, accredited blogging with helping him land a job position; “The most important thing I did at university, including my degree, was to blog and get online. That’s what got me the job.”
Blogs play an important role for journalists, however journalism students should especially consider starting their own blog in order to report on matters that mean the most to them and begin to gain recognition in the journalism community. As long as a credible reputation is upheld, a blog is an excellent way to remain in connection with the public, informing them on matters, and allowing a place for a discussion. In an article “When Journalists Blog: How It Changes What They Do,” by Paul Bradshaw, a journalist blogger stated, “My blog seems to generate arguments, which at least help me understand a story more.”
Despite debates about whether or not blogs fit into the realm of journalism, blogs are included in journalism handbooks, such as the Journalism Handbook for Students: Ethics, Law, and Good Practice at NYU. The handbook includes a section on blogs, stating that certain actions on blogs “could inadvertently undermine your credibility and ethical standing.” Of course, it is necessary to be aware that anyone has access to your blog, as nothing is private on the Internet. There is a responsibility that comes with putting your name on a blog, however, if taken seriously, the use of a blog can be nothing but positive.
Blogging may not seem like a conventional news source, however it gives journalists a great opportunity to brand themselves in the journalism community. I would encourage all you journalism students out there to create your very own blog and make great use of it! In the mean time, here’s a few you can check out. Enjoy!
Adam Westbrook; Digital Publisher & Multi-Media Journalist.
Sean Blanda; Creative Journalist/Entrepreneur living in Brooklyn.
Craig Silverman; Montreal’s very own – Journalist, Author, Founder and Editor of Regret the Error.