Columbia’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism recently published a report called “Post-Industrial Journalism: Adapting to the Present”. One of the ideas put forward in the document was that the voice and energy of individual journalists are becoming more and more important nowadays. The authors wrote: “Public persona was once the exclusive territory of the high-profile columnist. Now it is part of the job of every journalist.”
Student journalists are told over and over again that having a blog is important, that we should use social media to build up an online presence, and generally that we should get our name out there. The tips below are some tried and tested ways to increase your online presence:
Treat your blog like a shop window
Anonymous blogger and Mirror columnist Fleet Street Fox spoke about her blogging habits in a lecture at City University on November 27. She said that blogging makes you more careful about what you write. “Blogs teach you to be more responsible, more honest” .
The main reason for this is that bloggers can quickly be held to account through comments from readers, and corrections can easily be posted whether the issue is a grammar mistake, a factual error or a contradiction. The first interaction between a reader and your blog is crucial, so make sure your posts are up to scratch.
Beat the competition
According to Zoe Griffin, founder of gossip site Live Like a VIP, more people are likely to read you if you get your content out there quickly. If you have a great scoop, don’t waste too much time worrying about which parts of the post should be in italics or you will lose momentum.
Consistently writing about the popular topics of the day is a good way to fight writer’s block if you’ve promised yourself you will update with a certain frequency and find yourself out of ideas. And it will also help your site rank higher in searches.
Tweet about the X Factor
Fleet Street Fox, who has over 49,500 followers on Twitter, advised students to “tweet about things that are current on the day and use the right hashtags”. Tweeting when X Factor is on for example can get you noticed, as people tend to follow users they find interesting on a particular hashtag.
More and more TV shows come with official, fast-moving hashtags nowadays, such as #bbcqt for BBC’s Question Time or #hignfy for Have I Got News For You, so it would be great loss to miss out on the discussion.
It’s all in the name
Think wisely when you choose the name and URL of your blog or social media accounts. Griffin initially went for her full name as a URL, but switched fairly quickly to livelikeaVIP because it gave people a better idea of what the website had to offer.
Fleet Street Fox, who went anonymous because she was not allowed to voice her opinions while working as a news writer, said names are important online as “everyone knows what you’re about before they read you”.
Don’t be mean
It’s so easy to upload content online that some bloggers might not stop and think whether that midnight rant about whichever celeb said something the other day may not be necessary. There are so many examples of people tweeting and posting mean comments that most internet users no longer bat an eyelid at it and have become rather desensitized.
For aspiring journalists, it’s really important not to be placed into the mean category. According to Griffin, even gossip bloggers have started to tone down their posts in fear of losing advertising. “There’s nothing to be gained by being nasty for no reason”. You never know when a potential employer will stumble upon that one post you published a while ago that was best confined to Notepad.