Life in the Fast LaneIn a piece for Gawker, freelance journalist Ravi Somaiya says that blogs are becoming more like traditional newspapers. He writes (emphasis mine):

Now blogs compete aggressively for audience. Politico, Deadline Hollywood and everyone else seeks to break news to differentiate them from their competition. To do so they, and we, must also now write tight, concise headlines, choose decent pictures or art, and provide readers with more evidence of journalism (pics, or documents, or it didn’t happen). Opinion pieces and rants cannot rely on raw snark — the ones that get read will hold together, under immediate comment scrutiny, like a traditional op-ed. In short, blogs must now compete for readers’ attention like a newspaper on a stand does (or did).

Facebook is surpassing Google Reader and Google News in driving web traffic to news stories and sites, and it is a source of the most loyal, repeat visitors to those sites, according to Heather Hopkins, senior analyst for Hitwise Intelligence. In general, people now get most of their news from social networks, so what do you do to become the online article that everyone is linking to?

You have to be the first to break the news, or be the one that has the funniest or most insightful commentary on it. There is pressure to stand out amongst the crowd. Somaiya also reiterates the view that a blog’s headlines need to be clear and concise. Rather than using cute titles, focus more on including the facts, in a similar way to print newspapers. Be aware of your SEO keywords too, of course.

Transparency — one of the words that you’re probably sick of seeing in discussions about new media — also comes up in Somaiya’s article. Just like the rules that print publications adhere to regarding admitting your mistakes and printing retractions or corrections, blogs must do the same. Blogs can add to stories as new details emerge, or in order to correct mistakes you may have made in your reporting or writing.

One major difference between blogs and newspapers, however, is the timing of the news cycle. Whereas newspapers have a full day or longer to work on the story, bloggers are under pressure to be immediate and “compete for people’s attention in almost real time.” As print publications increase their online content, they will begin mimicking blogs in many ways, including timeliness.

At the end of Somaiya’s article, Gawker user ndhapple comments:

[…] traditional news organizations are going to have to figure out how to satiate the demand for news and analysis ‘RIGHT NOW…’ without sacrificing their ability to provide context or long, time consuming, investigative or enterprise pieces.

Source: “How Blogs Are Becoming More Like Newspapers,” Gawker, 03/20/10
Image by eyesplash Mikul, used under its Creative Commons license.

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