Sunday 28 December 2008

Me and My Blog

This is an article I wrote about my blog and blogging published in the January issue of Press Gazette which is not available online.

Having witnessed the collapse of Press Gazette from the inside at the end of 2006 and being an avid reader of Roy ‘the end is nigh!’ Greenslade made me aware that the future of print was not exactly rosy.
As a freelance I had made money out of magazines printed on dead trees (including this one) but I still felt a bit like a drayman being overtaken by people in those new fangled automobiles.
So to keep abreast of these changing times I enrolled on a two-day “introduction to new media” course this summer run by the NUJ at its London HQ.
Although I started in journalism in the days of typewriters and copy paper I am not a complete dinosaur and was able to put up stories on the Press Gazette website. But if anything went wrong you could ask the IT guys to put it right with their expert knowledge (“Have you saved it?” or “Have you tried re-starting your machine?” was their usual response) or you could ask PG’s then resident new tech guru Martin Stabe.
The good thing about the course was it de-mystified a lot of the jargon that IT hides behind and gave a gentle introduction to HTML web code. Talking to people on the course I first heard about which is one of a number of blog hosts which will host your blog for free.
Setting up a blog via a blog host is literally as easy as one-two-three. First you create an account, then name your blog and finally chose a template. Then you are off into the blogosphere. You can enhance your site with pictures, video and links to other relevant or admired sites.
It really is easy to start. But it is perhaps more difficult to explain why you should do it. I remember proudly showing my blog to my daughter whose reaction was “Dad, that’s so sad, why don’t you get a proper job?”
On the other hand I found a lot of encouragement from other journalists, particularly young ones to whom blogging is second nature. Many journalism students are encouraged to have their own blogs.
As for content, I just write about what I am interested in, which is journalism and the media, rather than about myself. Having a subject to focus on and discuss gives your blog a broader range than writing a diary about your life, and saves you from the danger of becoming the Mr. Pooter of the internet.
The buzz out of a blog is finding out there are some people out there reading it. When I started I got comments from Adrian Monck, head of City University’s journalism department, and “king of the bloggers” Guido Fawkes, which made me feel as good as my first by-lines. Even though Mr. Fawkes was correcting something I had written, at least he had seen it.
I get the same fun putting up an “exclusive” story on my blog as I did when I was at Press Gazette although I think I am using the word in both its meanings – it has not been published elsewhere and is going to a very small audience.
The good thing about blogging is that it gives you a voice and is like owning your own newspaper or magazine except that you are not losing money and you don’t have to sit in publishing meetings. The bad is that you have created this thing that needs to be fed and kept alive with new content but won’t earn you a bean.

The NUJ is running introduction to blogging courses from £45. For a list of courses go to


Jon Slattery said...

Thanks Sarah, All feedback is greatly appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jon
I hear someone else also loving the thrill and recognise it.

My brother, who has just put his toe into social media while still in a very traditional background, calls it "rewiring your brain".

Now you have embarked on this, can you understand why traditional journalists are still so wary? Has it changed how you talk to them about the changes to come?


Jon Slattery said...

I find my attitude to blogging is changing very quickly. I wrote the piece for Press Gazette some weeks ago. When I wrote it I wasn't really aware of what a fantastic network there is out there of ideas and content and the links you can make. For instance I read your blog via
Also, I really like the surprise of finding out whose reading you. So thanks for your post.