Journalism tips for bloggers

I’ve never wanted to blog. I prefer writing about other people.

Nevertheless, here I am, jumping on the blogger bandwagon.

Since it feels very unnatural, I decided to look around for some tips on how to be an effective blogger.

The Poynter Institute, a journalism school and professional resource in St. Petersburg, Fla., notes that the principal difference between traditional journalists and the majority of bloggers is an editor.

According to the Institute, “The lack of [an editor] is one of the charms of blogging, of course. The blogger ponders, perhaps reports, analyzes, types and publishes."

"It’s fast; it’s creative; it’s different from mainstream journalism.”

The Poynter Institute (on blogging)

But, the article continues, having an editor involved is a “brilliant” idea.  An editor can catch spelling, grammatical and factual errors. More importantly, editors can red-flag issues that could be libelous.

 Here are a few tips for bloggers from the world of journalism:

  • Get an editor and use him or her as a safety net
  • Learn the value of journalistic legwork. Do original reporting rather than aggregating content (think of the ongoing spat between The New York Times’Bill Keller and Huffington Post’s Arianna Huffington)
  • Seek out public relations professionals for help
  • As in professional journalism, avoid anonymous sources
  • Don’t attack or criticize without asking the target for a reaction
  • Uphold professional ethics of journalists (yes, the vast majority of journalists are quite ethical)

Lisa Crutchfield is a former Richmond Times-Dispatch reporter and has sat through many long public hearings to get the news.