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Good law blogs required sources for mainstream media reporters

February 17, 2010

Did you ever hear that your law firm newsletters, alerts, and articles were required reading by reporters covering the subjects discussed in these law firm ‘periodicals?’ Have you ever had your law firm newsletters or articles cited by a reporter? Didn’t think so.

Well, blogs are required reading for reporters at leading media institutions such as the BCC and the New York Times. Blogs are even being cited by reporters without even contacting the blog publisher.

Just last week, Peter Horrocks, the new director of BBC Global News, told BBC news journalists to use social media as a primary source of information. He flat out told them to keep up with technological change – or leave.

This isn’t just a kind of fad from someone who’s an enthusiast of technology. I’m afraid you’re not doing your job if you can’t do those things. It’s not discretionary.

…[T]echnology [is] changing journalism, ….[It’s]important for the BBC to leave a programme-based mindset behind and adapt to new technologies…….For BBC news editors, Twitter and RSS readers are to become essential tools. Aggregating and curating content with attribution should become part of a BBC journalist’s assignment; and BBC’s journalists have to integrate and listen to feedback for a better understanding of how the audience is relating to the BBC brand.

If you don’t like it, if you think that level of change or that different way of working isn’t right for me, then go and do something else, because it’s going to happen. You’re not going to be able to stop it.

John Schwartz, the National Legal Correspondent for the New York Times, told me recently that RSS feeds are widely used by reporters and most people he knows use them. Doing so, the reporters are following particular blogs as well as keywords and key phrases in blogs that they may never have heard of via Google Blog Search.

If you’re covering timely legal issues in your blog, you’ll get seen by reporters. Reporters aren’t stupid and looking to waste their time Googling search terms looking for an old article or even being sillier yet, waiting for your PR person to turn them on to experts at your law firm.

Mention a case, a regulation, or a an entity in your law blog. If one of those subjects is being reported on, your blog post is going to drop into the RSS readers of reporters covering that subject in a second. Your law blog, assuming it looks good, lays out your street creds on your background and what you do in an easy to read fashion, and is filled with interesting posts on related subjects, gives you instant credibility. You have a high probability of being called or cited.

Just as Horrocks told the BBC’s journalists, I’m not just an enthusiast of technology shouting up a fad to you lawyers and law firms. This is reality for you guys. You are now part of the media. Get with it or bow out.