Student journalist bloggers - The good, the scheduled and the risky - Part 2: The scheduled

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 9 June 2010

During the course of 2010, I've written a couple of series of blogposts looking at the future of journalism from the point of view of some of the people who will be doing it in the future - "Tomorrow's newsmakers today", studying digital student union newspapers, and a Q&A interview with three young journalists who recently made the transition from student to professional. This week, I've been posting about some of the trends and issues I've seen from looking around the Internet for blogs written by current journalism students. Today I wanted to look at a guaranteed way to keep generating content - to write about events that have a schedule.

Sport has a schedule

I noticed a few student journalist blogs concentrating on sports reporting. I thought this was a great way of practicing generating content for a regular news cycle. Even though they were working across the same topic, some of the best blogs had ways of making themselves distinctive.

"Kick it off", for example, promised Norwich City coverage 'for Norwich fans who are sick of the jokes about being married to our sister, and continuous Delia Smith food innuendos'. Rather like trying to do Leeds United coverage without reference to the Revie era and the 'long-suffering fans', I was a bit worried whether without Delia and in-breeding there would be anything left to write about - but since we both went up automatically this year from League One, who am I to scoff?

TV has a schedule

Another common strand was writing television reviews - like Jenny's "Blog on the box". As with sport, TV is a well-covered topic on the web, but again I think the scheduled nature of the topic lends itself to encouraging disciplined and regular events-driven writing habits. Not a bad thing for a journalist or a blogger to acquire. I like Jenny's blog a lot, and she's picked up some real genre specific web publishing techniques, like, for example, putting spoiler alerts on her review of the final episode of Lost. Jenny is also someone who clearly hasn't been afraid to experiment on the web. Littered around her site you can see that she used to contribute to a group blog about comedy, have her own journalism work profile site, and also ran a sports blog.

Films have a schedule

You're beginning to get the picture - anything that has a regular event or release schedule can help someone get into a blogging rhythm. Film is another subject area where either at the cinema or via DVD rental there is a steady stream of subject matter to blog about. Rachel Dozier in the States has set herself the goal of reviewing two movies a week on her blog. She is also an example of someone imitating traditional print style formatting on the web. Her pieces are littered with emphasis and italics in a showbiz correspondent way, which would make them punchier to read on the page. I liked the fact that she also has a defined format for her reviews - the prose is followed by a succession of highlight 'when' moments and 'quickie' quotes from the film in question.

Next...

In tomorrow's post in this series, I'll be looking at what I consider to be some of the potential ethical issues and difficulties around being a journalism student who blogs.

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