There is little doubt that journalism is facing some very serious challenges. Newspapers across the country, and even the world, are facing declining readership and, in many cases, are closing down.
Though the role of journalism is changing in the Internet age, that doesn’t mean there is no place for the techniques and tools that journalists use and have used for decades. Though blog writing differs greatly from journalism writing in many ways, there are still elements of journalism and journalism writing that still apply.
Though a blogger certainly doesn’t need to go to a j-school to do well, there are some lessons from a journalism school that could help out. Specifically, here are five things that bloggers could pick up from a journalism school, or even just a journalism class, and not lose what makes them unique and personable.
5. The Inverted Pyramid
Even in the most traditional of newspapers, the inverted pyramid is not the correct format for every story, but there are many cases where it is the ideal way to present the information.
The inverted pyramid is a system that works by having the general synopsis of the article in the first paragraph with more and more details in subsequent paragraphs, working to the least important details at the end. The idea is that, if readers are not interested in a story, they can read the first few paragraphs and get the big idea, but those who want to know more can read more can read to the bottom and get the full story.
Though it isn’t ideal for all or even most blog posts, understanding the style and how to use it can help you convey information in the fastest and most accurate way.
4. Interviewing Skills
Some people are naturals at asking questions, others aren’t. Likewise, some people are naturals at answering questions while others make it feel like pulling teeth to get a quote.
Knowing how to put people at ease, how to ask questions that get people talking and what the role of an interviewer is is critical when trying to get information out of another person. Also, being comfortable asking tough questions and knowing when to press on an issue is important to getting the whole story.
As with any skill, there are those who do this well naturally, but for others, learning the ins and outs of the interview may be very helpful.
3. Radical Clarity
Radical clarity is a writing style taught in many journalism schools, though it often goes by other names. The premise is to not write so that you can be understood, but write so that you can’t be misunderstood. It’s about writing so that people, no matter what biases they bring to reading your story, will get your exact message.
Though not so much a specific style, it’s a way of rereading your own work with different viewpoints in mind and actively deconstructing your own words. The idea is to reduce, though not always eliminate, cases where people misinterpret what you are trying to say.
2. Copy Editing
Grammar rules may be taught in English classes, but the art of editing writing, especially one’s own, is covered much more thoroughly in journalism classes as it is a critical part of any reporter’s job.
Editing one’s own work is surprisingly difficult to do. Most people have a tendency to skim through their writing as they are already familiar with it. Journalism schools teach reporters how to slow down when reading their work, often by reading their writing out loud to themselves, and objectively editing it.
Mass Media Law
Though the medium has changed, the laws have not. Those who publish on the Internet are still responsible for being aware of the laws that they will be held accountable to. Copyright, defamation, libel, trademark and privacy are just some of the areas of law that are critical for bloggers to know about and are all covered in basic law and ethics classes in most journalism schools.
The EFF has created a great Legal Guide for Bloggers that goes over many of these areas, still there is no substitute for an actual class on these issues and a robust understanding of the law.
Just because you, as a blogger, may not write like a journalist doesn’t mean you can’t be sued like one. It happens all the time.
For bloggers who have studied journalism, the key is to find ways to incorporate the important parts of their education into their blogging without hurting their voice or personality on the Web. For those who haven’t studied journalism, it is important to find ways to integrate the most important and more relevant lessons from journalists into their writing.
In the end, no matter what kind of blogging you are doing, there are ways that at least some education in journalism can help you improve it. Fortunately, these days you can likely get much of that education informally and on the Web.
After all, you don’t need a degree in journalism, just a basic understanding of some of its key components.
How Most People Think Blogging Is and How it REALLY Is
I love my gig. Right now, I blog from beautiful NYC. Quick 9 day trip to Manhattan. Can you imagine how fun and freeing this life is? Circling the globe, seeing places like Fiji, Bali and Thailand, experiencing these spots for years at a time? Amazing journey indeed. I feel appreciative of this fun, freeing life. I also know how most people think my life goes; write a few words, tap a publish button, make money, soar off to Fiji for 4 months. Most human beings cling to a terribly flawed aspect of their personality; ego. Ego sees free people and assumes, to preserve itself, how freedom must be an easy, comfortable journey for other people to take, because ego KNOWS freedom has not been an easy, comfortable objective, for ego.
Most human beings vibe from a dominant energy of fear so most human beings see illusions, appearances, NOT reality, a magic trick, something not REALLY happening. Most humans see me living in Thailand for months and see the illusion of me spending 2 hours to publish a post, seeing me making money, then, flying to Thailand. What fear-filled folks cannot see is the truth of this: me blogging for 5,000 hours – or more – through ups and downs, highs and lows, love and fear, peace and terror, and an even wider range of emotions….to live a life of blogging in Thailand for months at a time. The truth, the reality, of how blogging really is: blog for thousands of hours, make little or no money, then, after blogging for thousands of hours from a generous, calm, trusting, abundant vibe, feeling deep fears here and there along the way, the money flows in freely and you get to circle the globe whenever you want to circle the globe.
Take a look at this picture of me in Lyttelton, New Zealand:
Most people see an illusion: “Ryan is SO lucky! He gets to spend 2 months in New Zealand! I wish I had his life!”
The few human beings on earth who see the truth see this: “That guy lives an amazing life, being in New Zealand for 2 months, because he blogged for 10,000 hours, often times, when things did not appear to be coming together, outlook, appearing bleak.”
Truth seers are rare birds, folks. Why do you think I spend 3 or more hours daily meditating, doing yoga and exercising? I stabilize my vibe, uncover and purge illusory-producing fears and see the truth, more often than not. You need to see the truth to taste freeing, sweet blogging success. Can you taste my life? Imagine how it’d feel to live in NYC for a week? Imagine how it’d feel to live in Bali for 6 months? Fun, eh? Freeing, right? Of course you’d feel free, circling the globe, changing time zones like people change their minds. But to live this fun, freeing life, you have to live the truth of blogging for hundreds to thousands of generous, trusting hours, before you live the life, and, before you experience this level of fun and freedom. Most humans mean well but totally get caught up in the illusion, not seeing the truth because they fill their minds with fears, creating the insanity of luck and the delusion of envy, and the crazy, mentally ill, concept that you can live an amazingly fun, freeing life with a few hours, a few weeks or a few months of lazy blogging effort.
Do you want to step up to the blogging big time? Step away from most people. See the truth. This blogging gig takes serious effort and serious time. Most people live in delusion, in an illusion of fear. You know better. You know how blogging REALLY is. Sure blogging feels scary in moments but the ride feels largely fun and freeing when you follow your fun, generously help people and trust in yourself, and, trust in the blogging process. I know you’re up it!
I have this funny skill where I write entire eBooks based on silly analogies. Do you crave increased blogging success? I can help you with these colorful fruit bat analogies. Buy my eBook here:
Smash the Twitter and Facebook buttons to share this post, guys. Let’s spread the word to help more bloggers know the truth about blogging.
Face Newbie Blogger Fears Early to Accelerate Your Success
Do you genuinely want to hit the ground running with your blog? Face newbie blogger fears early. Do not mess around. Do not play around. Never be anchored down by doubt. Face fears, feel fears and you will feel so good, and free, and ready to succeed through your new blog because fear cannot hold you back if you face it, feel it, release it and proceed.
Life as a solopreneur feels fun, freeing and highly challenging because you do not possess the resources of more established entrepreneurs or people working for a company. The #1 tool in your new blogger arsenal is a willingness to face, feel and release deep fears related to being a newbie. Do this; be golden. Fun, freedom and expansive success awaits you because your generosity, creativity and willingness to connect just accelerates your blogging success…yes…even as a new blogger. How cool, right? No new blogger needs to struggle, fail and quit before giving themselves a chance, because fear is the only thing standing between you and what you need to do, to succeed. For example, I routinely tell new bloggers to buy courses or eBooks for due diligence material. More importantly, I tell them NOT to rely solely on questions and answers through Quora for their due diligence campaign because free platforms pale in comparison to trusted, premium resources from the top bloggers, in terms of research materials.
What can you do to accelerate your new blogger success fast? Nudge into the fear of spending money on training resources, feel the fear, release the fear and buy the course and/or eBook. Doing this, you begin taking the course and/or reading the eBook, putting your new knowledge into action, succeeding more quickly. Meanwhile, most new bloggers who refuse to face their fears keep asking questions on Quora, relying on strangers, possibly skilled but usually unskilled bloggers to supply them with non-vetted answers for critical blogging research. How in the heck can you rely on this most crucial of information if you have no idea who offers the answers? Can you see why this method is totally unreliable, for getting your blogging research? A few skilled bloggers offer some keen insight but step out of the fear-vibe into the abundant, successful vibe by investing money in a top blogging education.
If you can either pay for a Harvard education or ask some stranger on the street for their free advice, what seems to be the more intelligent decision? Invest money in expert advice? Or save money to get advice from some stranger on the street who may or may not know what they are talking about? Can you see why so many new bloggers struggle, fearing to invest money in the best blogging advice, choosing to get free, unreliable blogging advice from the general blogging public?
Pay up to play up. Invest money in your blogging education to move higher in blogging circles. Be a fear-diver; keep nudging into fears to better understand how to succeed, feeling and releasing these confining, restricting forms of bondage. Face newbie blogger fears early and often to remove the shackles that hold you down. Doesn’t it feel better to dive into fears routinely so you can accelerate your blogging success, even as a newbie?
How to Promote Yourself without Bragging and Repelling Readers
You do know promoting yourself freely constitutes one pillar of blogging success, right guys? Bloggers need to be clear, confident and relaxed enough with self to appeal to us. Who wants to follow someone with low self-esteem? We seek out bright lights, not bloggers slumming around in the blogging sewer, eh? But self-promoting is a fine art for the discerning blogger to master; go too far, bragging your butt off, and your arrogance repels readers. People despise someone who speaks about self all day long because these over-compensating buffoons, deep-down, fear they are not enough. Bad trait in a leader. I figured it’d be easiest to self promote by simply…..self promoting like the dickens.
Example; buy our new course. Yep, Sue-Ann and I plan to make you happy as a blogging pig in slop with our new course. Do you see how I got right to the point? No beating around the bush. I promoted me, and, Sue-Ann, clearly explaining why you need to buy our blogging course….by saying….buy it, and you will be a happy blogger. Promoting yourself through virtually all content you create is the easiest, simplest way to find the happy medium between being a shy guy or shy gal and being an arrogant, boastful, bragging clown. The real secret is to keep promoting self through all the self-conscious, anxious, money-related, appearance-related fears most of us cling to, before we become clear, confident self-promoters.
Put Attention on Your Readers
Do you feel disgusted with wasting time online? Do you want to drink up sweet blogging freedom, using your time online effectively, powerfully and efficiently? Buy my eBook:
Let us rewind for a moment, shall we? Time to review how I promoted myself by putting attention on you, you rocking readers of Blogging Tips Dot Com. I promoted self because I promoted my eBook. I make money every time you buy the eBook. Cool. Feels good to me. But did you notice I asked if YOU felt disgusted, and if YOU wanted to drink up sweet blogging freedom, before I promoted ME? This is one secret to promoting your products and services without looking like a dingbat. I helped you by putting the attention on you, making my self-promotion about you and me. We both win. You access a freeing, fun, valued resources and I access an energy we call “money”. Fair exchange, methinks. I never come off as bragging, being boastful or outright being a cocky jerk because I make it about US. See how thinking about everybody, and bringing folks together, benefits everyone? Cultivate your sense of compassion guys; developing this skill helps you go far in blogging, and, in life.
Be Subtle in Sharing Your Accomplishments
Feel free to share your accomplishments if you feel doing so boosts your credibility. But never be a flat out braggart by speaking about yourself in boastful, self-centered, self-serving tones. Why? Doing so turns off folks because braggarts secretly do NOT believe in themselves, and need that facade of boastfulness to even dream of trying to succeed online. Every braggart is broken. Point blank. Even if you achieved immense worldly success and appear to be happy, the appearance is an illusion, as you do not believe in yourself, and people who do not believe in themselves cannot succeed in leading others. Be subtle in sharing your wins. Be delicate in sharing your feats. Humble yourself. Allow other folks to do the bragging so you promote yourself from a relaxed, chill, attractive energy.
Tap those Twitter and Facebook buttons to spread the word on this important topic of self-promoting. Let’s empower bloggers to taste sweet success by teaching them how to promote themselves the right way, shall we?
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