The default approach bloggers use when ‘reporting news’ is to follow the same pattern as journalists do in their newspaper columns.
Sara Christensen, from Pajama Professional, puts it best:
Breaking news on your blog is great, but that doesn’t mean your posts have to sound like news. If readers want news, they will head to CNN.com. They are at your blog because they want your original viewpoint. The fastest way to lose readers is to start regurgitating news content in a really boring fashion.
For my news blog, I often get contributions from writers who try extremely hard to copy the style of reporting shown on BBC / Times / Guardian. That’s not why readers are coming to my blog, and chances are, that’s not why readers are going towards blogs in the first place.
If you want your readers to stick around, to become a part of the community, and most of all, if you want your blog to stand out and actually build a fan base, you need to infuse your blog (and blogging) with:
- An original viewpoint (no regurgitated news, ever)
- A personality
More from Sara’s article:
The thing to remember is, popular blogs become popular because of the blogger. A good blogger shows personality even when he/she is writing about an impersonal topic. Regular readers start to feel like they know the blogger personally. Once this happens, readers form attachments and loyalties that are achievable only in a venue like blogging that highlights a writer’s personality.
Don’t make the same mistake that 99% of the other ‘news’ bloggers are making. If you’re hiring people to write for your news blog, make sure they read Sara’s article and learn that the success of the blog depends on your writing style and content – if you’re going to go down the ‘safe’ (bland) route of traditional reporting, you’ll miss out on creating a community and on building a strong, loyal readership.
Bloggers should celebrate their own personal style rather than emulating formats that have gone before them ie. newspaper journalism. But what happens if your blog is being written by several writers? Here I think there is an argument for ‘house style.’ You can create some style guidelines or just a house tone to your blog, which contributors can work with to maintain the original feel. I know some big blogs which take guest posts like their contributors to think about this. It’s a good idea because you maintain an original tone without ever having to copy old style media.
I agree with this strategy completely. Blogs that break news trying to emulate journalism end up looking either hack, or spammy and rarely contribute much to anything.
IMHO Bloggers that provide their subjective perspective to the news are more entertaining and that context helps to shape the dialogue. Its similar in many ways to talk radio. Talk radio isn’t entertaining, because Paul Harvey or Rush Limbaugh or Howard Stern are breaking news. Its interesting because they bring a personality and a perspective to what is happening in the world around them (even if that means vibrating someone to a peculiar level of excitement with a speaker).
Bloggers have experiences and education and wisdom and perspective to filter and read between the lines, so do it! Give your readers your perspective. If they agree, they agree. If they disagree, let them argue. Follow the dialog the argument or whatever and let that reshape your own perspective as a blogger. Grow with the new perspective and display the feedback of your growth in the blog and things will work out on their own from there.
From a different perspective, the regular news, and journalism in general, really sucks. I say this as a former intelligence analyst that used to see the raw information of what was going on and that read and reads hundreds of news stories a day. Journalism is flailing around without a purpose, a direction and definitely without a back bone. Bloggers that attempt to pretend to be journalists are essentially pretending to be a breed of professionals that could become extinct.
We pro bloggers sell automobiles and journalists sell buggy whips, don’t sell a car with a buggy whip. It just won’t help the car respond any better.
Thanks for highlighting the difference between news blogging and journalism. I have recently started posting marine news. I will make a note to give a personal touch to the news blog.