Why I Write News (Or, This Week’s Missed Opportunity)
By Christie Ison
Well, that’s what I get for sitting on a story.
If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen this tweet from me in February about the 80′s favorite Mr. Dunderbak’s coming back to McCain Mall. Details had come from the owner via Facebook, so I immediately started courting him for a phone interview. He was nervous about saying too much before the lease was squared away and declined.
About a month ago, he finally sent me his phone number. I was sick, then busy, etc. etc. Today, I finally did the interview, only to find that Arkansas Business ran their own story today. Bleh. It may just be food news, but by golly, I hate getting scooped. Especially when I had the info five months ago or so.
Lesson learned, for myself and other bloggers: If you happen across the info on a really great, timely story, it’s worth the effort to write a news-based article. Work to confirm it, just like a good journalist. Then write.the.post. It earns credibility for yourself and for blogging as a profession/hobby/whatever. Writing it before anyone else does — even better.
“But my blog is just recipes,” you might say. Or crafts, or stories about your family. What good does a news-style piece do in your blog? I’ve found the the occasional timely news-style story brings readers in hordes, readers who stick around and read my more casual ramblings. You can do the same with news items that relate, even loosely, to your blog’s emphasis.
My most well-read blog post, which still gets search engine pings every day, is a poorly-written one on Alton Brown and his kooky entrance (and departure, repeat) into the world of Twitter. Is this directly related to my blog mission of local food and resources, and what you can take away to use at home? Not really. But I’m a big fan (or at least, now, a devoted gawker), as are a good many of my readers, actual and potential. News brings readers.
I’ve done several other, more mission-appropriate news stories, too, putting on a more formal journalism hat than my usual silly blogger one. Having a journalism degree puts me at a bit of advantage here, but it’s not a requirement. Learn some basic skills (interviewing, using quotes, inverted pyramid or news feature style, how to properly quote/summarize/rehash other news sources, etc.) and go to town.
As I enter what I believe to be the next phase of my blog, I wonder what to do with these news-type stories. Should I focus exclusively on local, feature-style food stories? Must they all include a recipe? Is there even a place for news-type articles anymore?
For the time being, I’m going to keep writing news. And I won’t wait.
P.S. I’m still running the story, and it’s gonna rock.
You can read Christie’s piece on Mr. Dunderbak’s here.
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