More on journalists getting started with a blog

After some very good conversation off Monday’s post about the necessity of journalists to start blogging — no more excuses — I’d like to follow up with a few more links that drive that point home even more forcefully.

From a freelance writing website, here’s a good compendium of things for journalists outside a newsroom to do to keep reporting. Blogging goes without saying, and some ideas are included to get started.

Why does a successful freelancer write for Huffington Post for free? The exposure, of course. While I take a dim view of a very wealthy woman such as Queen Arianna being enriched by free labor, and her brazen attitude about it, I can understand the lure of a byline on her site. But even this freelancer has some qualms:

“It’s ridiculous that Arianna Huffington doesn’t find a way to pay people like me. And you know what—she’s not going to. She doesn’t need to.”

Keep this in mind when you hear all the hype about HuffPo being the ideal model for journalism: She’s using some of the $20 million acquired in a venture capital effort to purchase a comedy site. And promptly laying off a dozen people. Then again, I guess I’m just part of the backlash.

My feeling is if you’re going to write for free, you might as well write for yourself — meaning your own blog, where you invest your time in building your presence online. Who else is going to do it? Unlike the legacy media, where your status and writing assignments were conferred upon you, you can use a blog to make yourself an expert, or build on what you did at your newspaper.

That’s the empowering, and essential, benefit of journalists blogging. It’s what you want to make of it, without having an editor put you in a box. Break the hold that way of thinking had on you. Don’t observe those debilitating limits. They’re artificial, and they’re also career-stunting.

As the large media companies continue to fragment, your ability to identify, carve out and OWN a reporting niche online is the best ticket to continue doing journalism. There are not guarantees, of course, but there’s also never been a better opportunity to lay that foundation with a blog devoted to your niche.

As for me, this modest blog has led to a couple opportunities I’m very flattered to have received. Next weekend I’ll be attending the American Copy Editors Society Southeast conference in Charleston to participate in a panel on “Life After Newspapers.” And I’ve been asked to write about the same subject for an online magazine published by the University of South Carolina School of Communications.

So you see? Blogging can lead to many things. Even an invite to write for the Huffington Post.

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