Library of Congress website billboards Black History Month resources
Introducing myself and my blogs to the Michigan State University newswriting class

Sharing blogs with a Michigan State University news-writing class

What do you tell journalism students in the School of Journalism at Michigan State University about blogs?

I've been asked to talk about blogs and blogging to a News Writing 300 class where my friend, a former Associated Press (AP) reporter, serves as instructor.

She knows my background as a former newspaper reporter turned legislative staffer now retired and serving as a blog coach to the masses in mid-Michigan and anybody else who wants to start a blog.

I remember being a student at the MSU School of Journalism in the late sixties when change in the news media was fired by the Watergate scandal.  Back then, I felt like I had a special call from the Almighty God to help make our world better through journalism.

Times have changed and during the first decade of the 21st century, the role of the mainstream media is going through a devolution.  Massive changes are taking place in the way news is being covered and reported.

Newspapers face extinction

New media has moved in and is gradually replacing the channels of communication in mainstream media.  Old channels are being reduced to the point of insignificance.  How long before traditional newspapers become a memory and join other artifacts in archives of what life used to be like.

Are blogs the new media that will keep citizens in our connected world informed?  Maybe . . . but . . . first . . .

  1. Where do these students get information about what's happening in the world?  How many read a newspaper everyday?  How many watch the Daily Show?
  2. How much do they use the web to get everyday information?  Find restaurants?  Movies?  Do shopping?  Find telephone numbers? Do research for papers and assignments?
  3. How many read blogs?  How many read blogs for political news?  To find information for their special interests?  For information about friends' activities.
  4. How many instructors/professors in the School of Journalism have a blog?  In the College of Communication Arts and Sciences?
  5. How can you learn more about blogs?
  6. A good place to start learning about blogs is Debbie Weil's blog that she used to write The Corporate Blogging Book where you can download the first chapter of this best-selling business book on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.
  7. Notice how Weil, a former Washington Post reporter, in this free chapter, provides the who, what, when, where, how, why and so what for corporate blogging.  Her answers also apply to individual bloggers.
  8. What drives the communication philosophy behind blogging?  It's a changing marketplace that has been redefined by the Internet and articulated by the Clue Train Manifesto.  This document details how the market place now turns on conversations versus one-way push advertising and corporate speak that has been the historic pattern.
  9. What do I mean by conversations?  Consumers are looking for transparency, honesty, access and relationship with those who they are dealing with in the marketplace.  This also applies more and more to political communication.
  10. Jeff Jarvis, a television reporter and his experience with Dell Computer is an example.  See if you can identify with his experience.  He bought a Dell.  It didn't work.  He went to Dell and he felt they ignored his concerns.  He blogged about being in Dell Hell and it went around the world.  Take a look.  Dissatisfied customers popped up all over the world and they used blogs to share their Dell experiences.  And, they linked to each other.  It wasn't pretty and it was pretty experiential for the computer giant and its bottom line.
  11. A positive example of using blogs to build community is Lee Lefever, an expert at building online communities.  Look at his blog--The World is Not Flat--about a year-long trip he and his wife Sachi took around the world.  Using a Palm Treos, they posted on the road and at each stop.  Online readers in remote corners of the world pointed out best places to eat and stay and they even showed them around.  Check it out.  It's pretty amazing.
  12. How do you find good blogs to read?  There are several places, but one good place to start is  This is a meme reader where the top 100,000 blogs are continually spidered for posts of specific themes.  This includes politics.  There's some good stuff here.  It's worth checking.