Making Journalistic Blogging Useful

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Mmmm. There’s a delicious, tasty journalistic thought meat from Kevin Anderson over on the Strange Attractor blog. Take this brain canapé:

> It’s one of the things that many journalists don’t do enough of when they blog: Listen. That’s one of the important skills for a blogging journalist. Blogging is not just publishing my thoughts. I can do that in any old media. Blogging is about the conversation.

Mmm. Spot on. As is this:

> But isn’t good journalism supposed to amplify the signal, find it in the noise? Aren’t journalists supposed to help find the important data points, turning points to help people and themselves make sense of the world? It’s an abdication of our professional responsibility if we stop trying to find the signal and become the noise.

The reason this has so much resonance with me is that all too often I see journalists heading off exactly the wrong path with their blogging. Instead of bringing the focus of their journalistic skills into the conversational publishing arena, I see them bringing the worst aspects of blogging (shrill, unformed opinions) into their journalism.

And that’s a damn shame. Because journalists really to have a role to play in this conversation – to be the fact finders, the assumption-challengers and question-setters. They have a duty to step back from the partisan debate and be the voice summarising, clarifying and fact checking. The full-time professional with a good set of journalistic skills can enrich the debate, but only once they fully take on board the conversational nature of the medium and then work out how best to apply their pre-existing skills to their blogging. 
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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.