Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A day in the life of a blogger



Today was the first test of the "new gig" at work, covering breaking news via blog. In my case, this is "News Cut" at Minnesota Public Radio. As people get more used to blogs, telling stories incrementally becomes a faster -- and in many ways a more complete -- way to get lots of information to people on their timetable, rather than waiting until reporters , umm, research, report, write and eventually -- if you're listening at just the right time -- deliver the information.

I think the two methods are most compatible in radio and I'm thrilled that Minnesota Public Radio is courageous enough to try it. Not many mainstream media folks will say to its newsroom blogger, "go do your own show and make it interesting." Traditionally in mainstream media, nothing ends up on the blog that hasn't first been on the radio (or TV or newspaper) or isn't gathered primarily for the purpose of getting on the radio (or TV or newspaper).

The MPR way allows me to actually have conversations with the audience, have them ask the questions, and then I go find the answers. That is then sprinkled around thenuts-and-bolts of a breaking story.

Believe me, I've had my share of sleepless nights wondering whether this sort of thing can work, but today convinced me of some of the possibilities. In a market like this, a reporter usually works one angle. This method makes the blogger more like a "talk show," turning from one angle to another and then another and then another (this is the old "talk show," not the current "let's set fire to a cross on somebody's lawn" version of a talk show).

So what was I able to do? Over the last 24 hours, I:

  • Get an analyst at Clark University to give me first impressions
  • Provide an immediate FAQ on what the merger means to people.
  • Live blog the investor conference call
  • Live blog -- sort of -- the news conference
  • Examine the "branding" issue and why it's important for a merging company to get rid of the old logo,colors and message of the company being taken over.
  • Find out about the frequent flier programs and what people should do to maximize their miles' worth.
  • Provide an interview with an economist about what investors were saying about this in helping the stocks to tank.
  • Put together an admittedly "turdy little piece" on repainting airplanes.
  • Examine the influence of Southwest Airlines, consider the future of regional airlines, and answer a few more questions from the audience.

    You know what? For one person, that's a hell of a good day's work. And it's the way a typical day used to be for us newspeople in small market radio in the old days; still, I think, the best form of radio, may it rest in peace.

    Oh, and I threw a bone to the core medium, in this segment with Tom Crann on All Things Considered (Listen here in mp3 format).

    Man this was a fun day!
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