Cross-posted on www.BlogHer.org:
Note - Your BlogHer schedule includes a journalism double-feature:
Have you surfed the BlogHerRoll in the left-hand margin of this page? My own addicted, late-night clicking has taught me that BlogHers are women with book deals, who write for newspapers and magazines as noted columnists, who shoot TV shows based on their bestsellers, who are decorated television journalists and all-around media industry strategists.
And that's the short list. Turns out that dozens of us attending BlogHer on July 30 are blogging our professional lives as writers. Whether we are trained journalists or published authors or industry specialists who write for our living, many of us are using blogs to break news and deliver information and data.
As the moderator of Session I: Suffragette Journalists, one of the questions I'm interested in is: Why? Why are so many accomplished women writers gilding their professional lilies via blogs? It's not like we aren't broadcasting in every other medium (because the women I linked above have and are and/or could again anytime). Is it the money? The creative freedom? The resume-building? The appetites of readers, who are demanding more transparency and participation as they race from traditional media to the Internet? What does blogging offer women that newsrooms, publishers and the airwaves do not? (Or have I missed the boat with this line of questioning?)
The first set of question begets the second: What does blogging success look like to you as a writer? Dialogue with readers only? A job? Or am I thinking too small - are blogs the breakthrough technology that will help women shatter writerly glass ceilings, allowing women to infiltrate the op-ed pages of leading newspapers, among other opportunities? Do you (not) care? Or is the real story here independence for women writers, that blogs will allow us to develop professional lives as writers with enough flexibility that we can have other interests, too? How can we help each other do that? ...the discussion continues below...
I've pulled together a crew of guest experts to guide our discussion. Please help me welcome:
- Evelyn Rodriguez - Her life as a writer--and her opinions of traditional journalism and blogging--evolved dramatically when she blogged her survival of last year's tsunami on the island of Ko Phi Phi as a "citizen journalist." Rodriguez wrote during her recovery,
"I know bloggers get on their high horse sometimes, but merely wearing the blogger label and installing a Movable Type weblog does not instantly imply an authentic voice and a connecting conversation. Citizen journalists and business bloggers aren't necessarily going to be any better at this stuff than big media and corporate public relations without an intention and commitment to be fully human." More here or start with Slammed by Tiday Wave but I'm OK (12.26.04).
- Chris Nolan - A newspaper reporter and columnist whose coinage, "stand-alone journalist," uniquely explores the use of blogging tools by professional writers. Guestblogging on Jay Rosen's Pressthink, Nolan skewered the news business ("I wish I were exaggerating about the cloistering and ignorance") and defined how writers' publishing habits are evolving along with reader habits:
"These are not bloggers. They are people who are using blogging technology--software that allows them to quickly publish their work and broadcast it on the Internet--to find and attract users. They understand that the barrier to entry in this new business isn't getting published; anyone can do that. The barrier to entry is finding an audience. That's why their editorial product is consistent, reliable and known. Readers have expectations and stand alone journalists understand this and put that understanding into practice...Stand alone journalists are the next iteration of on-line news professionals. They stand alone because they aren't salaried by existing news outlets. They aren't part of an institution but seek to become one. They may be freelancers--many are--but the work they do on the web isn't under contract for a larger entity. Right now, they are working for themselves by themselves or with other like-minded souls."
- If I understand Rodriguez and Nolan correctly, then Anastasia Goodstein is a triple threat of citizen, stand-alone and traditional journalist. When two of the the teen-oriented start-ups she was working for failed, (Oxygen, Kibu), this traditionally trained journalist started Ypulse, a blog aimed at examining media for, by and about teens and 'tweens. Goodstein says she hung out her own shingle in May 2004 because,
"I can’t do what I’m doing on Ypulse in any sort of traditional media. Nobody wants to hear somebody reminisce over their teen years all the time or write about how youth media and advertising intersect..."
Correction: Maybe nobody did. Today Goodstein gets 2,000 unique visitors to her blog a day and plenty of career advancement, such as a new job and a book in the works. So she continues to set her alarm clock early to moonlight as a blogger:
"When I started Ypulse, I thought is was a great way to brand myself as an expert in teen media that would hopefully a) be the beginnings of my own teen media company, b) awaken the dormant writer in me and lead to a book, or c) bring me back to the youth media space in an employment capacity...I now have an agent who will shop my book around to publishers this fall (fingers crossed) and a new job at Current TV (a new network for 18-34 year olds). So...two out of three ain't bad."
We won't have any presentations, no longwinded opening remarks. Let's plan a meeting of the minds that'll help us grow as writers--by whatever metric you value most--through the coming year. Here's a starter list of questions for Session I; I welcome your thoughts and improvements:
- What are the opportunities that blog technologies offer (and other mediums don't) to writers of all stripes? (See the State of the News Media 2005 on audience behavior patterns, likes and dislikes about news delivery in various media that I think extrapolate well into appetites for industry and other information as well as current events.) What are the risks?
- What are the creative benefits of blogging? Is there a creative dimension offered by blogging that isn't possible anywhere else? What is lost?
- What are the direct and/or indirect benefits of blogging? Can you get paid? Should you get paid? How, how not?
- What are the limitations of blogging--above and beyond figuring out your personal philosophy and goals for profitability?
- Are there special responsibilities, standards and ethics that all journalists who blog (citizen and professional) need to embrace? What do you think of HonorTags?
- Is there anything about blogging that is uniquely available to and valuable for *women* writers and readers?