Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Blog writing - The Long and Short of It

When blogs started to get popular and hit the mainstream media, there was (and still is) talk about how blogging is a very different experience from traditional journalism. Both genres of writing are supposed to be very short and concise.

The difference is traditional journalism often tends to give summaries of events. It's the long camera view of an event seen from afar. Here is an example from today's Wall Street Journal "What's News" column:

Bush will propose stopping growth in U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions by 2025 and signal he is open to legislative action to curb power-plant pollution.

The internet influenced the writing format very differently. It started with personal home pages, based on individual hobbies and interests, and then blogging just became another form of expressing individual interests. It suggests more of people's reactions to events and favorite hobbies rather than the cold, hard facts. Wouldn't it be interesting to see the perspective of a politician involved with this speech? Let's suppose that George Dubya is a blogger. What if he wrote this instead:
"I was in the White House gardens and for some reason or another, I started to cough and could not stop. That is when I realized that it is just about time we need to truly make a commitment to stopping greenhouse gas emissions."

This would be the short, honed-in camera shot of blogging.We can all relate to pain, like incessant coughing or discomfort, which makes the experience more relevant to the reader, even if they aren't big on politics. It's also a very effective tactic in spoken presentations that are being given to a wide audience. There's been some research done that people remember things better if it ties in to their memories or are being entertained while being taught or convinced of something.

In PR, I've been warned about being careful when speaking to bloggers because they have to be treated differently from the mainstream media. I wasn't sure why exactly, but since posting my own posts online, it seems more apparent to me. Any conversation that I have with someone can potentially turn into a blogpost, but I'm usually fairly scrupulous about this. It's happened before, though, with PR agents who have written e-mails to bloggers, which have resulted in rants about PR people.

Bottom line: Anyone's interaction can turn into a story, which is both the coolness and caveat of new media.

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