Blogging basics for journalism students

Having just finished grading some student blog posts, I have a few thoughts:

1. Headline. The headline (or title) of a blog post should accurately represent the content of the blog post. If the blog post is a critique of, say, a news story, don’t write your blog post headline as if your post is the news content. Provide a cue that this is a critique or review.

2. Links. No one needs you to provide a link to the home page of a well-known news or media website. Links should be value-added to you post, and never just for the sake of having some links. Find something good; otherwise, no links.

3. Focus. Get to the point already. What is this post about, and why is it here? No one has all day to hang in there while you clear your throat for three paragraphs.

4. Paragraphs. Yes, please. And short ones.

5. Images. A nice photo might grab a few readers, but make sure the image is suitable for — even well matched to — your post’s content. When you are critiquing something, for example, a screenshot of that (website home page, article page, etc.) is very appropriate. And please, respect copyright for all images (read the short section under the subheading “5 Things to Think About Before Using Copyrighted Images” in this post).

6. Tags and categories. It seems that most students are just too lazy to create categories for their blogs, let alone add useful tags to blog posts. Well, good luck getting a job if that describes you. (WordPress users should read this: Categories vs. Tags.)


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