WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Should Journalists Blog?

Aug 29, 2017

RTDNA recently ran a column from a contributor who recommends every reporter have a blog.  The author of the piece wrote that it's a chance for reporters to keep their creative writing skills sharp, given that a lot of news writing is churned out to ensure there is content for newscasts.

The Shop Talk panelists are not sold on the idea.

Will Buss said he worked at newspapers where reporters were required to blog and tweet as ways of engaging with the audience. He said there might be some value to a blog that provides extra insight about an issue, but he does not like the idea of journalists using blogs to opine about stories they cover.  He felt the paper’s reporters were never given a clear explanation about what was expected.

And Buss said if journalists have extra insight about an issue, they should include it in their stories instead of blogging about it.

Jasmine Crighton said she has mixed feelings about blogs. She said she has encouraged students to blog to help them get accustomed to writing every day.  But Crighton said journalists have to be careful about what they write in blogs – she cites the case of Wendy Bell as an example of what can go wrong.

Rich Egger said an innocuous comment in a blog – for example, expressing support for a sports team – could set off someone who’s passionate about another team.  And he said there are opportunities for journalists to be creative in their story telling while remaining factual.

Jasmine Crighton is News Director of NEWS3 at Western Illinois University and Will Buss is the Director of Student Publications at WIU.