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How to blog the right way

Candace | February 21st, 2012

If you’re a grad student or taking WV Uncovered for a second time, you’re required to do things: Tweet and blog for the class. Admittedly, it’s not always the top priority. And, admittedly, that leads to subpar posts.

Screen shot 2012-02-20 at 6.25.22 PM

Mindy McAdams, over at Teaching Online Journalism, recently posted about just this. She said:

“Too many students write blog posts just to get the assignment out of the way – the poor quality of the blog post reveals that plainly. No future employer is going to be impressed by that kind of writing.”

True. If it’s not the focus of the class, it’s easy to write it off as busy work, something less relevant, and not as important to the core curriculum. McAdams goes into further detail about what makes these posts bland:

“I’ve found that the majority of journalism students (both grad and undergrad) produce very poor posts. They start out boring (lacking a punchy first sentence to grab the reader). The posts are too long (George is pushing them to learn the art of the 350-word post). They are text only (go outside and snap some photos with your own camera!). They lack references (links) to useful outside material, which can: (1) add context, so you don’t have to write that part; and (2) show people that you have the ability to find new things they have not seen yet.”

These tips are basic, and I think most of us are aware that blogs should contain visuals, links, and be engaging. But putting into context why we should care about our posts is important. Employers desire a variety of skills, and blogging can be one of them. Having examples of your work is the best way to demonstrate this skill to a potential employer. While this is required for class, it’s also a work sample. This is the motivation we need. This is why it’s a bad idea to blow these posts off as nothing.

McAdams is on to something here. She also links to a site for tips on how to improve your “blah blog.” One that she particularly notes is how we use links. For example, if you’re talking about the use of Facebook, simply providing a link to Facebook isn’t helpful. Instead, a more helpful link would be a study about how many hours per day people spend on Facebook. This post is successful because it doesn’t say “Here! Do this to make your blog better.” Instead, it says “Here! Do this to make your blog better BECAUSE this could benefit you in the long-run, not just for this class.” Tell me why I should care. And, she did that.

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