Blogging journalists see payoffs

Paul Bradshaw conducted a survey of 200 blogging journalists about — what else? — blogging. He’s posted his results in four parts (with three parts still to come):

  1. Context and methodology
  2. Blogs and news ideas: “The canary in the mine”
  3. Blogs and story research: “We swapped info”
  4. Blogs and news production: “I think in hyperlinks, even when working in print”

I haven’t found a lot of surprises in the results, but this bears repeating (from Part 2):

Many mentioned getting story leads from comments on the blog or through private communication initiated via the blog. Others noted the ease of accessing contacts through other blogs, and the ability to build trust with sources through their online output, all of which represents an important challenge to traditional theories of news processes …

Even though many journalist bloggers have reaped these benefits already, there are some (often new or reluctant bloggers) who don’t yet realize what an asset their blog can be to their regular reporting.

This was new to me (from Part 3):

Journalists report being more likely to gather multimedia material such as images, video and audio to post on the blog — or, in the case of broadcast journalists, to gather more material than they used to, as there is now a platform for material that wouldn’t otherwise make it to broadcast.

I’ve often heard from journalist bloggers that they read and research more than they used to, in part because blogging simply plugs you in more. I haven’t heard a lot of people say they’re out there searching for multimedia to post, but hey, that’s cool too.

Blogging does seem to be changing the way these journalists work (from Part 4):

The immediacy of the web was clearly a factor, with respondents noting that they worked more quickly, breaking stories on their blogs before following up both online and in print or broadcast. …

Brevity was also frequently mentioned, with journalists reporting writing shorter, more tightly edited pieces not just for blogs but also for print and broadcast. …

Perhaps the most significant change was in the way that blogs provided a platform for stories or detail that would otherwise not make the print or broadcast version at all. Respondents talked of augmenting coverage that “would otherwise fall in the cracks”, of pieces that were interesting, but wouldn’t merit space in the paper, or that use elements that “don’t necessarily fit into the rigid lengths of radio pieces.”

That last bit is something I’ve heard a lot. Not only is the news hole smaller — and so the blog provides welcome extra space for material that otherwise would never see the light of day — but also, journalist bloggers find that the audience for their blog is more attuned to their subject matter. It may be a smaller audience (although not always), but one with higher interest.

It’s not that blogs will ever replace journalism. Blogs are already part of journalism.

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