By Kevin O'Keefe

Should all journalists blog?

Chris Cobler, publisher of Greeley Tribune in Colorado, says yes, all journalists should blog. And it can be done in a way to reduce risks.

  • Blogging helps you better understand your audience. The hallmark of any blog is the ability for readers to post comments to what you write. By having this regular conversation with readers, you learn what hits and what misses.
  • For newspapers that are rapidly becoming irrelevant to a growing number of people, this is a huge issue. If you write post after post that garners no response, then it ought to be telling you something.
  • In print, we’ve been able to kid ourselves for decades that every reader is savoring every word of our prose. Online, it’s painfully clear what readers do and don’t care about.
  • A blog posting should take a mere 15 minutes per day – if you want to say more, write in multiple parts.

As far as legal ramifications, journalists should always be careful per Cobbler.

  • Less-experienced members should have training sessions on libel laws. Whether writing a blog or a print column, journalists are still speaking in the name of, and representing, their paper.
  • Though blogs aren’t considered liable for the reader comments that are posted, newspapers should adopt a policy: the Greeley Tribune’s is to post or hold comments, but never to edit them.

Cobbler does appear to concede blogging may not be for every journalist. At the Greeley Tribune, everyone in the newsroom has the opportunity and is encouraged to blog. Though some are “passively resisting,” by not blogging enough, the Tribune is pushing its staff in that direction.

Get all journalists going like this and it will be a field day for lawyers and law firms doing PR work through new media. Interacting with reporters, editors, and publishers through blogs is fun and the ROI on PR work done this way is huge.

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Kevin O'Keefe
About the Author

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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