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Teaching Online Journalism

How blogs work

Some bloggers monitor their blog stats obsessively. I try not to be obsessive, but I find it pretty interesting to check where the traffic is coming from and going to. And of course, the numbers. This is a tiny blog with a tiny audience, so I’m happy when I have 50 visitors a day.

Screenshot
Screenshot taken at 9:56 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, July 4, 2006, from Site Meter

Last week, I wanted to call attention to two posts here, both relevant to photojournalism. I haven’t done this before, and I wouldn’t do it unless I thought the posts really deserved a wider audience. (In other words, I was not trying to spam the blogosphere!) I sent e-mails to a few photo-j blogs. Photo District News posted a link on June 27 (see the spike? Almost 150 visitors). Then A Photo a Day posted a link on June 28, while I was still getting hits from the PDN post.

By posting links now to PDN and APAD, I’m doing what’s called returning the blog love. Uh huh. They won’t get as many hits from me as I got from them, but that’s okay. It’s just a way of saying thank you.

The spike on Monday, July 3, came from an e-mail I sent to the Listserv for the Visual Communication division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. The VisComm division is home to college and university professors who teach photojournalism and/or communication design.

I had observed this phenomenon before, back in April when Romenesko linked to a post here. On a single Thursday, this blog received more than 2,000 hits. And why? That is the key. Because a very popular blog (Romenesko’s) linked to it.

The blogosphere really does function as a field, with relationships among blogs driving traffic to other blogs. This is part of what we need to teach our students — it’s not only what you write; it’s also whom you link to.

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One Comment

  1. david silver says:

    mindy, thanks for the instructive post. indeed, blog monitoring can get obsessive. however, unlike so many other forms of media, blogs allow some sense of one’s readership. as we teach our students to blog, i think it is important to teach them to assess and reflect upon their readership.

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