How Bloggers can Prepare for the Future of Journalism

by Everett Bogue

Everett Bogue writes about the developing media world at The Future of Journalism. Follow him on Twitter. Want to write for us too?

The media world is changing, in this month alone writers and readers everywhere watched helplessly as magazine giant Conde Nast folded four magazines (including the food favorite Gourmet) in one week and laid off over 500 people. The New York Times announced this month that they’d have to cut back 100 newsroom jobs.

It’s becoming readily apparent that aspiring journalists aren’t going to be able to take the tried and true road to journalistic success.

It’s time for a new approach

Journalists everywhere are starting blogs and entering the next phase in the history of journalism. Whether you call it Journalism 2.0, or a shift in media consciousness. It’s pretty clear, the game has completely transformed.

Transformation for the Better

As the future of journalism unfolds, we’re beginning to see just how beneficial this shift is for the writers out there.

  1. We can interact directly with our audience.
  2. We can write for a small audience, about what we care about.
  3. We can profit directly, and immediately, from our writing.
  4. We can build a reputation for ourselves, outside of an institution.

The challenge is that journalists have to overcome a radical shift in thinking: whereas in the past we just concentrated in writing, and our business did all of our marketing and publishing. Us journalists of the future have to become a one-man journalistic machine. We have to take our writing from the idea to the audience all by ourselves.

In blogging, there are a lot of things you need to consider to hit that mark of success. Suddenly, it isn’t as easy to just write and publish blog posts! Know these most important tasks you need to do for your blog:

  • Blog Marketing - Twitter, Facebook, forums, etc. are all ways to get posts out. I will talk about this more later on, but know that just because you write good content doesn’t mean anyone will ever see it without your intervention.
  • Community Maintenance - The community, being the people who read your blog need constant attention so you can keep your readers happy and active within your blog.
  • Expansion - At some point, you need to do more than just “blog.” If you have a growing and stable audience, maybe putting out products for sale or adding on a forum to your blog will switch things up a bit and make your site more memorable.

The good news is that the tools for succeeding are here are are ready for prime time.

Your future publishing platform

Journalists of the future aren’t publishing in newspapers or magazines. As was illustrated above, these forms are dying. The journalist of the modern age launches a blog for their writing.

WordPress is the modern blogging platform of choice, it’s flexible, extensible, and extremely easy to use. You can be up and running with your own journalistic platform in a matter of hours.

Don’t forget there are alternatives to WordPress as well! Check them out in a past post here listing of 20 blogging platforms.

WordPress templates are completely customizable, and there are thousands of options to choose from. You can go minimal, make your blog look like a newspaper, you can even launch a professional-looking magazine using WordPress. The possibilities are endless, and you can play with them until you’re happy.

Going Beyond Publishing

A blog opens a lot of opportunities, which include more than just writing and publishing a post. With a huge community of plugin developers creating new ways to make WordPress act more like a CMS rather than a blog, there are many things you can do to “amp up” a readers experience.

Your future editor

In the past, journalists got used to working with an editor. This person usually gets paid more than them, commanded more respect with them, and traditionally a journalist had to endlessly argue with their editor about little unimportant aspects of their stories before they get published.

Well, you’re in luck. There are a lot less editors in journalism’s future. Everyone is responsible for their own content, this means you have a lot of freedom, but a lot of responsibility and accountability.

The internet will find out if your story isn’t true, and the repercussions could be pretty harsh. Don’t make up stories, unless you want it to be your thing.

If you don’t know how to write coherent sentences, you’d best learn now.

If you really think you might have a problem with the copy-editing, maybe ask a friend or blog-counterpart to read over your copy before you press the publish button.

Your future marketing department

In the past, journalists relied on two things to get their stories out.

  1. their newspaper landed on their audience’s doorstep every morning.
  2. their company employed a marketing department to get the word out if they wrote a really big story.

But you’d be hard pressed to find a job at any of the places that are still using these methods.

The journalist of the future has to be their own marketing department. This means directly reaching out to their audience using social networking tools and networking with other bloggers.

You’ve probably heard of today’s most popular marketing tools. They are: Twitter, RSS, Facebook, the list goes on and on. But also traditional methods still work: hand out business cards, work the face-to-face, go to events that match your interests.

Get on Twitter right now, if you’re not already. Chances are that if you’re not on Twitter, than you don’t understand why it’s useful, I certainly didn’t until I signed up. I gave myself a 30 day trial, and let Twitter prove the rest. It’s an invaluable way to market yourself.

More on Twitter Marketing:

View all our posts on blog marketing →

Your future audience

In the past your audience was whoever read the newspaper, it was defined by which magazine you worked for. Journalists within this framework had the write about the same subjects over and over, cover the same court cases, write the same story about purple eyeliner, day in and day out.

Now the future is up to you. There is an audience for every writer, you just have to find it. Take a deep look at yourself and ask:

  1. What peaks your interest on a daily basis?
  2. What really gets your blood flowing in the morning?
  3. What subject will make you wake up in the middle of the night and bang out a post?
  4. What will make you write so passionately that the audience can’t help but listen?

Figured it out? That’s your beat, that’s what your new blog will be about. That subject is your niche audience, and it’s what’s going to be paying your bills from now on. So go forth and write, journalist of the future.

Discuss:

Are you a journalist making the transition to a new media landscape? Let us know about your obstacles and your triumphs in the comments.

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Amar November 3, 2009 at 12:46 am

Hey everett, I am amazed with your post, To be honest, in the morning only I was thinking about bloggers and journalism. I was thinking that most of the bloggers would soon become editors in newspapers. I certainly think blogging is changing everyday and i wonder if they will have newspapers or not, in future. I think everyone would just get up, go online and read blogs while having tea and not read newspapers.

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Arafat Hossain Piyada November 3, 2009 at 1:58 am

I just can’t help me and retweet it. The article topic is not unknown but presentation make the difference. I really think that blogging is a type of journalism if you are serious about it and have the ability to write creative content. I myself introduce me as a Tech Journalist and feel proud when I do this. In blogging you get more option than a journalist have. If the earning is the way to show your promotion in real job, then blogging give you promotion much more fast pace than newspaper company and you always have a chance to build your own company through your blog like Techcrunch and Mashable.
.-= Arafat Hossain Piyada´s last blog ..How to preset safe mode boot before rebooting in Windows OS? =-.

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Web Hosting site November 3, 2009 at 2:14 am

Good post, interacting with the targeted audience is always a brillant idea!

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Internethow Blog November 3, 2009 at 5:43 am

I am not a journalist, but I like the way blogging platforms let you express your thoughts and feelings about current issues. I think blogging is one of the best way for a freelance journalist to present their thoughts and findings. They don’t have wait for an editor to approve their articles, etc.
.-= Internethow Blog´s last blog ..Questions and Answers: Getting Visitors From Twitter =-.

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Dana @ Online Knowledge November 3, 2009 at 7:15 am

Blog Journalism surely a free journalism. You can do it by your personal touch with hard to do in traditional journalism.
.-= Dana @ Online Knowledge´s last blog ..Welcome My New Theme: Atahualpa 3.4.4 =-.

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Nick Tart | JuniorBiz November 3, 2009 at 1:47 pm

This is a well-organized, comprehensive article, Everett! Great job!

One thing that’s always annoyed me is how newspapers, journalists, and even writers complain that the Internet is putting their inudustry out of business. When in fact, this is the most exciting time ever, EVER to be a journalist or writer. So what if your local newspaper had to lay you off. This is an opportunity to take the bull by the horns and challenge yourself with something you can be proud of.

If you’re a journalist by trade, you have a huge advantage over most of the writers on the Internet. Take advantage of that advantage!

Again, awesome article!
.-= Nick Tart | JuniorBiz´s last blog ..Don’t Buy a Book Without Finding Where It’s Cheapest =-.

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Gabe | freebloghelp.com November 3, 2009 at 2:50 pm

The “journalism” landscape is changing every day. Unlike some of my writer friends who work for newspapers, I actually have job security as a blogger since I’ll never fire myself.
.-= Gabe | freebloghelp.com´s last blog ..Brand identity, part I – And you are special because…? =-.

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Everett Bogue November 3, 2009 at 3:08 pm

Hi all, thanks so much for your support and comments, you’re all so totally on the ball and right. But you’re already in the blog world, so of course you know how awesome and successful you can be here.

@Amar. There probably will be newspapers in the future, but they won’t be made of paper and they won’t be as large as they are now. The organizations that we call newspapers now probably won’t exist, but new media will fill the void. I think we’re seeing the transition now, as local blogs become the go-to source of information for local people, because local news organizations at the size they were in the past just aren’t sustainable.

I read an interesting thing over at Seth’s blog today, maybe you guys want to check it out? http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2009/11/ms-inbetween.html

Basically he’s saying that there is no one job anymore, everyone is in-between. Everyone is a writer, a marketer, a leader. This is amazing, because those jobs used to reserved for just the top of the top, and the rest of us had to go about our lives working stupid jobs we hated. No everyone can rise up and get their message out, cover the news that they feel is important, for whatever niche they really care about.

@Dana, You’re totally right. We probably have no idea how many times editors go over material that journalists write at big journalistic organizations. All of this is to focus the material to a mass audience, so everyone can understand. The thing is, they can’t. Not everyone is into tech as much as the tech guys are into tech. Not everyone is into theater as much as the people who read theater reviews are into theater. Blogs give people the opportunity, if done right, to really write what they feel.

@Everyone else. You’re right about blogging having better job security. Every journalist needs to start having a web presence, to start marking themselves independently of their organization (if their organization allows this, which some of them don’t.) I’d love it if you guys would check out my blog and offer your help there. You have outstanding ideas, and I’d love to hear if you have ideas for stories, or if you can refer me coverage of stories that are interesting to you on this subject.
.-= Everett Bogue´s last blog ..Interview with Mark Briggs on the Tools of Future Journalism =-.

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RickWaghorn November 3, 2009 at 3:21 pm

And I can even add another ingredient to the pot… Your Future Advertising Dept…

http://paidcontent.co.uk/article/419-a-local-ad-network-for-local-people-addiply-raises-its-hand/

As practicised by http://www.TheLichfieldBlog.co.uk

Only even been a case of re-tooling ourselves for a new and vibrant future.

best etc
.-= RickWaghorn´s last blog ..The more I see, the more I know; the more I know, the less I understand… (P Weller, Changing Man). This, however, I do understand… =-.

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Jimi Jones November 3, 2009 at 5:36 pm

Like everything else on the landscape, journalism’s time of change has arrived. We are in the early stages of this transition and it will be very interesting to see how this finally settles out. Visionaries with the foresight to position themselves properly will do well in the not so distant future.
.-= Jimi Jones´s last blog ..Blogging Blunders – 16 Things That You Should Be Aware Of =-.

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Magdalena Georgieva November 7, 2009 at 2:08 pm

Although I agree with the idea that journalism is changing fundamentally, I think we need to critically examine these changes. It is not enough to just observe that reporters can now directly interact with their readers. It is worth examining which audience members exactly have a say in this produsage era. Your article, for instance, was read by a lot more people than those who commented. What are the demographics, statuses and affiliations of the commenters?

Similarly, it is worth discussing thoroughly the role of editors in this culture. I highly doubt that the elimination of editors will have an empowering effect on writers. On the contrary, it will limit them to only one perspective of reporting. Because the role of editors is not to fix grammar mistakes, it is to ask legitimate questions that haven’t been properly addressed in the articles.
.-= Magdalena Georgieva´s last blog ..With social media, can we reunite spontaneously? =-.

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Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) November 7, 2009 at 6:39 pm

Fantastic overview of the changing landscape of journalism! As a blogger, I am fascinated watching as traditional journalists turn to new media.
.-= Janice (5 Minutes for Mom)´s last blog ..Say It Forward – Week 40 =-.

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Steve Smith November 7, 2009 at 9:32 pm

Your thoughts are interesting, but there are still real challenges monetising this activity and creating accountability.

Whilst you say that bloggers must eventually diversiy and sell – which I think is an option – don’t be too quick to dismiss the newspaper brand. I think brands like the NY or British Times can continue to be a platform for news, but a much more interactive one wherein journalists engage with feedback and perhaps develop stories based upon this. These businesses can continue to provide a steady wage and are better placed to develop commercial straegies (my favourite is micro-payments once it works properly).

The newspaper brand can also enforce accountability better than complete individualism. I understand your idea of self-regulation because of audience reaction, but the reality of web journalism has shown that it has led often to bloggers breaking news without checking for multiple sources. Trust is at the heart of news and I still believe we’ll seek traditional brands to provide that.

Great post though – this issue is really important and it’s good to read well thought through developed commentary.

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water dispenser November 10, 2009 at 2:05 am

it is worth discussing thoroughly the role of editors in this culture. I highly doubt that the elimination of editors will have an empowering effect on writers

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Jim Glab November 10, 2009 at 10:49 am

Your article proves that bloggers need copy editors. Your sentence “What peaks your ineterst on a daily basis?” should be “What piques your interest on a daily basis?” One more small step toward an illiterate future.

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Eren Mckay November 11, 2009 at 10:48 am

I really like your insight on the future of journalism. It is kind of scary for writers and journalists though. But they will have to adapt to the new reality.
Makes it much tougher on them but at the same time media isn’t dominating the view on things which is always a good thing.
.-= Eren Mckay´s last blog ..How to make friends online =-.

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charlote22 October 23, 2010 at 12:39 am

The idea of this site particularly for testking a00-211, color scheme and template is also stunning. I always fascinated in learning graphics, ccna voice, web designs and related terms. I hope you would include discussion group in your site soon for ccnp certification and graphic designing ccsp.

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Advertising Sales Jobs December 15, 2010 at 11:21 am

I agree with what Jim said about bloggers needing editors. However, putting this into action would be nearly impossible. You can only encourage people to write better content.

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