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.

Photo by Kasaa

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