Garage ToolsMiriam Ellis, a search engine optimization (SEO) expert, wrote an article for Search Engine Guide in which she wonders how legendary muckrakers such as Ida Tarbell, Ray Stannard Baker and Upton Sinclair would have performed if the blogging capabilities of today were around during their respective heydays. The growing trend of hyperlocal blogs offer an opportunity for muckraking of a more modern slant.

Ellis has tips for hyperlocal bloggers who decide to do a little dirt digging and truth telling:

* Stick to facts
* Cite sources when possible
* Get informed about defamation laws
* Prepare yourself to handle any controversy you may create, and
* Let your readers make up their own minds, or, as Ellis writes:

Chances are, if you are muckraking for the good of your community, what you are really aiming for is a community of thinking people, capable of agitating for important local changes. You aren’t doing this to strong arm others into following you like sheep, right? You don’t really want to be a guru, with glassy-eyed fans who nod to your every word, do you? I hope not. I think you will create the strongest, most empowered community to live in by a simple presentation of the facts, leaving it up to an informed public to make up their minds as to what is fair and what is foul play.

Ellis also cautions against too much muckraking on hyperlocal blogs that are publicity tools for your small business. The blog “is likely going to be a less risky and more effective venture if published independently of your business,” she writes.

Source: “Should Your Hyperlocal Blog Muckrake?,” Search Engine Guide, 04/14/10
Image by joguldi, used under its Creative Commons license.

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