I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Oh, you’re a blogger.” or watched someone painfully attempt to avoid rolling their eyes when I talk about my job. Blogging still gets a bad rap, and perhaps rightfully so, unfortunately. For every well-written and thoughtful blog post out there, you can find dozens that are little more than reblogs of reblogs of reblogs of press releases. There’s something to be said for giving your readers the news of the day, but this process easily becomes a game of Telephone, with facts getting mixed up along the way.
It’s a disservice to your readers, and even worse, you’re helping to maintain this idea that bloggers aren’t as good or important as other media sources.
We do, however, have the power to change this and be taken more seriously as bloggers simply by thinking different about the news pieces we write. At BlogWorld New York 2012, Dave Copeland presented Reporting for Bloggers, and today, I wanted to share his 3-2-1 Formula that will make every post your write more credible.
Most bloggers realize that citing sources is important for an ethical standpoint, but in this formula, sources become even more important. Not all sources are created equally. If you’re reporting on something that happens, you need to verify that you’re using an original source. Even better, pick up the phone or shoot off an email to someone who can answer your questions directly. Dave showed several examples where he “busted” a story or presented an entirely new spin simply by talking to people. When you get too far from original sources, not only is your information more likely to be incorrect, but you’re only repeating information that can be found elsewhere online. So, when blogging about a news story, take the time to include at least three sources – interviews, quotes, original sources, etc.
Many bloggers are already pretty good about include a few links with each post, but it’s important to choose your links wisely. If you’re going send people away from your site (or away from your page, even if you’re linking to your own site), make sure to verify the links. hey should be packed with more information about the topic so you’re really helping the reader. And if you’re not including links at all? Shame on you. Linking is what makes the Internet such an awesome source for news. (Zemanta is a great plugin that can help you save time with linking if you’re short on time, so check it out.)
Lastly, use at least one image with your posts. Go beyond stock photography if you can and find a fair-use picture that really fits your post well. You might not have the budget for images that a magazine or newspaper has, but sites like Wikipedia and Flickr have Creative Commons that are often filled with great images to help your reader better understand the topic at hand.
If you want to catch the rest of Dave’s awesome session at BlogWorld New York 2012, check out our virtual ticket, which gives you access to this and other presentations you missed at the show. (If you were at BWENY and want to upgrade your ticket to include the virtual ticket, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Again, another reason why every blogger should take a Journalism 101 class. Not only does it teach them effective writing that DOESN’T involve search engines, but it also teaches them how to gather information, conduct research and hold interviews. And it explains how to write it all properly.
@JTDabbagian Good points, JT. To really excel as a blogger, you can’t skip over those journalistic principles and basic education.
@blogworld Congrats on another successful conference. I’m sorry I couldn’t make it out to NY this time.
@JulianaP16 Thanks again!
@ChakkaMWilliams wow it’s been a while!
@JulianaP16 I know, ur still just as busy? I’m getting busy once I move home, which I hate doing, next week it’s on. Lol!
@ChakkaMWilliams worse – busy than ever! :/ blogworld research #bigdata crazy
Do your thing @JulianaP16 !
Hello @allison_boyer Here is my article from @splashmagww about @chrisbrogan at @blogworld http://t.co/JEP9GOoA
@RachelintheOC @blogworld What if your not a serious blogger?
@JohnHoff3 @blogworld then skip along w your day ;-). Still good info tho…
@RachelintheOC @blogworld Very good info indeed.
@RachelintheOC @blogworld And such simple advice for being taken as a blogger too! Thanks Rachel and Blogworld!
Do your research … great tip!
I wish I would have thought of that myself and then maybe I could have been a BlogWorld speaker too :: just like Dave Copeland … real reporter.