Thursday, January 29, 2009

Editing and writing for a blog differs from print

More than a year ago, Lee Rozen, in his role heading the copy desk at the Seattle P-I, helped me come up with some guidelines for editing staff blogs. As a journalist, several of the points we outlined then would still be helpful guidelines if you blog as a journalist, even if you're not affiliated with a media organization.

So here are a few thoughts, adapted from those guidelines:

  • Blog content does not have to conform to the more rigid writing style of print. Be relaxed in your writing style, try different things and be conversational.
  • What you write should meet journalism’s ethical and legal standards in every respect. Don't use unnamed sources except in very rare circumstances.
  • If you're blogging as a reporter, be fair, balanced and avoid opinion. If you're a reviewer or your blogging niche is more like that of a columnist, your opinion is an integral part of what you do. But in any case, avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
  • Link to other published articles to help lend credence to research you've done beyond interviewing. Full credit MUST be given, for links, however. Copyright law is not suspended on the Web. Lengthy quotes could violate copyright. Keep any excerpt short. Give credit along with the link.
  • Links must be tested before the post is published.
  • Be sure you know where photos you're using came from. Copyright law applies. You don't automatically have a right to use photos, even ones that were published with stories you've written for the P-I or elsewhere. And when you use a copyrighted photo from someplace that allows you to do so, be sure to note it is copyrighted and that you're using it by permission. Don't pick up photos from other blogs. Many bloggers aren't good at identifying where the content originated and, if they got permission at all, it might not have come from the copyright owner.
  • Correction: This post has been changed since it was first published to correct the spelling of Lee Rozen's last name.

1 comment:

  1. Useful tips for student reporters. Many thanks.