wendylbolm

Archive for March, 2008|Monthly archive page

The first rule of blogging for journalists (and everyone else)

In Uncategorized on March 29, 2008 at 4:39 pm

It’s already time for March’s Carnival of Journalism, hosted by Journerdism, and I’ve already broken the cardinal rule of blogging.

I haven’t posted in a long, long time.

My readership has disappeared (except for those who still subscribe to it on their RSS), and if I want to build this blog up again, I’ll have to start almost from scratch.

This isn’t that big of a deal to me, I’ve been working on other projects and receive no money, advertising or otherwise, from posting here. It’s just one of my many labors of love.

However, if I was posting for a blog affilliated with a company, newspaper or magazine, I would be in a heap o’trouble right now.

Since it’s been so long since I’ve posted, now is the perfect time to talk about the reasons why carting around a dead blog should be avoided.

Dead blogs are ignored by the community.

Once you stop posting for a few days, your readership declines. People stop cruisng by. If you stop posting for a few weeks, you’re in trouble. And, if you stop posting for months, forget about it. Your blog is just another hunk of dead weight on the outskirts of cyberspace.

Therefore, your blog will no longer direct traffic to your company’s
site.

Basically, if you’re using your company’s server, your blog is now taking up valuable space but is providing no benefit. It’s a leech.

And, people checking out your blog for the first time from the site will find themselves at a dead end.

If your blog is linking to outdated material and hasn’t been updated in ages, chances are readers are going to hop to another site instead of going back to check out the latest from your company/newspaper/magazine.

I’m not the only offender, either. It surprises me how many companies, especially media companies, offer links to stagnant blogs by writers and editors.

I have a pseudo excuse for not blogging. I’ve been busy with tons of important side projects and class assignments that have effectively eliminated my free time.

This is the same excuse every single other delinquent blogger out there is using. Busy people run out of time to blog.

The next time you give this excuse when you could be posting a couple sentences and a link to your newest article or other exciting content, consider what a few seconds out of your day might do to draw in more readers.

And, while you’re at it, check out one of the projects eating my precious time: here’s the TravelVideoStore blog.

TravelVideoStore.com blog up

In Uncategorized on March 24, 2008 at 7:18 pm

I know I haven’t been posting lately. However, I just started a blog for TravelVideoStore.com, and I’m going to be updating the posts in the next few days. Let me know what you think.

The TravelVideoStore.com blog.

Don’t Panic!

In Uncategorized on March 17, 2008 at 2:22 am

I just read a post by The Journalism Iconoclast, in which Pat Thornton tells journalists to panic.

The whole affair reminds me of the beginning of Hitchhiker’s Guide when Arthur’s house is being demolished to make room for a new highway. He realizes too late that there is nothing he can do to save his home from certain doom.

Then, instead of sticking around to save the house, he is saved by a far-thinking individual who speeds him off earth before the whole planet is destroyed.

One of the problems with newspapers now is they can only think about their particular newspaper being saved without looking any farther than their own noses. They want to take baby steps when a major overhaul of the whole process is needed.

It’s rather funny, really.

Why I hate Facebook

In Uncategorized on March 15, 2008 at 2:34 am

I was going to write an intriguing post about today’s Dr. Phil show, because I was sick and ended up watching it at my mom’s house. (I’ll get to Dr. Phil after tonight’s post.)

Instead, I’m going to write about why I hate Facebook. One word: Apps.

The applications aren’t addictive. They’re annoying and taking up space in my notifications. I spend more time blocking other people’s useless apps than I do talking to people on Facebook.

People want me to get a superwall. They want me to take quizzes. They want me to cuddle and fluff (?!?) them. And, in virally passing on all of these viral horrors, they’ve made a site that could be useful to me in some ways into a nightmare to deal with.

I think, at this point, I have Facebook because Wayne Garcia added me on it, and Wayne Garcia is an awesome journo-columnist I’ve been reading for a very long time in one form or another. Every time I take a couple steps forward out of my Facebook rage, I end up getting pushed back and hating it all the more. I guess I’m through with my Facebook rant for tonight. If anyone actually uses it for useful purposes, please let me know.

Now, on to Dr. Phil. The show was a “breaking news” episode, showing off Dr. Phil’s knowledge of current events. Except, the show revolved around a news story I first saw on Channel 10 (disclosure, I’m now freelancing for a new website that is affiliated with 10; it will launch in a couple of months). The original newscast I saw made me scream at the TV “That’s not news. That’s two entitled girls who think they’re a lot prettier than they actually are complaining because they didn’t have everything they wanted handed to them on a silver platter.)

This is what happened. Two girls board a plane. They aren’t served water when they want it. One girl gets into a heated argument with a man over the bathroom and is told that she could get kicked off for her behavior. The two girls are then kicked off the plane and stranded in L.A. They then send emails to news outlets about how Southwest discriminated against them for being too pretty.

I felt sorry for Dr. Phil. I felt even more sorry for him when his last guest was a boy who started a no cussing club at his school.

Should I be happy the news is supposedly so slow, or outraged this was the best they could come up with for breaking news? I liked Dr. Phil better when he covered average middle-aged women with normal problems. I’m sure he’s already trying to get the toilet seat lady on his show for the next breaking news episode.

More on changing the world

In Writing Opportunities on March 4, 2008 at 2:05 am

So, even after reading about the lack of opportunities to change the world through journalism, you still think you have what it takes to change the world through writing? Here are three avenues to give it a try.

Magazines

Vogue and Cosmo are not what I’m talking about here. Think more like Bitch or Tricycle. If you have a cause you can’t get enough of, read every publication you can and take notes on where you’d love to work in the process. If social causes aren’t your thing, search for trade and hobby magazines that are more to your liking. Just remember, magazine staffs are usually pretty small and therefore can be difficult to join.

Alternative Rags

Think the Village Voice or Creative Loafing. You might see an article about raw milk next to a review on the raw food joint down the road. Your mom might cringe at the trannie personals ads on page 19, but you’ll have more freedom to pursue your own writing desires and voice than at a traditional paper.

Start Your Own _____

Go ahead. Fill in the blank. Think your town’s nightlife is insufficiently covered? Start your own website. Think the music scene needs some followers? Print your own free weekly.

Take out a loan, apply for a grant, do what you need to do to get fundage for your new pet project. It’s the in thing to do in these black days for printed newspapers and old guard journalism. Just make sure you have a plan.

Coming up: How to get your dream job today’s uncertain climate.

Spring Break and changing the world

In College Goals, Writing Opportunities on March 2, 2008 at 5:18 pm

Even though I have a week to go until Spring Break, in many ways I have been taken an impromptu Spring Break from the internet. Sometimes graduation and a quarter-life crisis hit at the same time. I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching in the past week.

One thing I’ve been thinking of quite a bit (and it’s something I’ve never bought into) is the theory many students and beginning journalists have about how they’re going to use their writing to change the world.

They just don’t get it.

Journalists don’t change the world. They write about the people who do. In fact, journalism keeps most journalists from changing the world, especially if they want to cover their passions.

Think about it. If you’ve worked your way up to the presidency of a gay pride organization, no editor is going to let you write about it. If you volunteer for a soup kitchen that needs volunteers, no editor is going to let you write about it. If you join a protest, guess what. No editor is going to let you write about it.

Some journalists get around this by specifically not joining the groups they want to cover. I did this when I was a journalist at The Oracle, so I spent two years covering events I wanted to join in on and people I wanted to befriend but couldn’t because of ethics.

The upside to the new world of journalism is blogs, where many journalists are given free reign on some newspaper owned blogs and their own personal blogs. However; I don’t think many newspapers would hand over their server space for a blog on any kinds of activism, and I know of a couple journalists in my area who have been fired over blogs they started in their own time.

“But, what am I supposed to do?” You might ask. “I really do want to change the world, and I thought reporting would help me accomplish this. You must be cynical, Wendy Withers, because all of my friends want to change the world, too. And, with new guard journalism, we’re sure to succeed.”

No, you’re not. Chances are, you’re sure to get disillusioned with the whole reporting process and quit after a year or two. You’ll realize that most editors aren’t willing to give you the feedback you want, you’re writing the articles assigned to you, and these assigned articles are geared towards the local audience, not what you actually want to write about. On top of this, since you’ll most likely start out writing for a small newspaper in a small market, the stories you do write probably won’t focus on the big, “important” issues. If the first paper you work for does cover those issues, they’ll go to seasoned reporters, not you.

“Your argument does seem to make sense. So, what do I do?”

You have two choices. Either stay on track with the knowledge you gained by reading this, or quit now, while you can. Quit a low-paid career field where the only feedback you receive may be how much you suck. There are plenty of organizations where you can change the world, and many would be thrilled to employ someone with a communications degree.

Think social justice organizations. Art galleries. PR firms. Book publishers. Businesses that actually pay employees a living wage and then give them a raise for a job well done.

The newspaper business doesn’t have enough open slots to provide every Jschool graduate with a job. From what I’ve seen, most Jschool graduates have no idea what’s going to be expected out there in the real world. You might as well get out while you can.