Getting The Blog Thing
April 25, 2007

365editorsblogonblogsI've had an epiphany.

I was just looking around on the web for more feedback & reviews about our revamp, and I stumbled upon this.

So it got me started thinking about what we're trying to do with blogs. [see our new Blogs Page]

The key bit for me in Kevin Anderson's post is "You actually have to engage with the audience, not just produce more flat boring content."

So I'll start by setting out what I think we should be doing with our blogs, and then I'd like you to tell me whether you think I'm wide of the mark; tell me what you're looking for in a blog.

I think we should try to do 3 things:

  1. Give our users an opportunity to talk back to us.
  2. Give editorial staff a place where they can give opinions (however controversial!), which is by definition anathema to impartial TV news reporting.
  3. Go "under the hood" and behind the scenes of our operation - not only interesting to some in itself but also informs some of our decisions etc - TRANSPARENCY!

So what do you think, and want out of our blogs?  Is it just an opportunity to mouth off?  (As you may notice on some of the Have Your Say posts, things sometimes degenerate into rants between the English and the Scots, and everyone against foreigners, (we've even had climate change blamed on illegal immigrants I think)) Do you want the conversation with us or among yourselves?  Do you just want news told straight?

Let's talk!  (I'll add my own replies to your comments in the comments section.  Is that better than putting them in the original post?)

(Julian - Exec Producer of sky.com/news)

Written by Sky News, April 25, 2007


The Truth the Whole truth and nothing but the truth!
I emphasise the word 'Whole'.
Anything else is at best, only half the truth.
Any un-truth posted on a blog should be allowed a response from others.
Doing that can not attract objections from anywhere.
Unfortunately it appears that it does!

Kevin, we really appreciate your comments, especially as they come from a seasoned blogging pro. I'm not joking -(really)- as I said in my blog about citizen journalism we want to hear from as many people as possible with ideas about how to open up our site. Please keep reading and commenting.


In the interest of disclosure, I am the Blogs Editor at the Guardian. I write often about news, blogs and new media on a blog started by my partner, Suw Charman.

I give you credit for responding to my post, especially seeing as I made it on my own blog as opposed to leaving a comment here. It's also great that you're responding to questions in the comments.

A small suggestion after taking a quick look at your blogs is that often they still sound like rather traditional articles with a "What do you think?" tagged on at the end.

I'm often asked how a blog post differs from a column; it's my job I suppose. I say that a blog post either reflects or frames a debate and then leaves it to others to carry on that conversation. It's a subtle distinction, so subtle that most people don't quite see a distinction. Also, there are a lot of great bloggers and non-media sources out there talking about the stories that you cover. Bring their voices into the discussion.

Also, and I know we occasionally at the Guardian have a Guardian news user (something that I'm trying to get rid of), but I think part of transparency is having an identity. I know you might have technical reasons for having a few users. But get your producers out from behind the curtains. You'll get more response to a person than a login.

Also, and I bang this drum often at work, link out. As a blogger, I check who is linking to me at least once a day. A link is an invitation to join the conversation, which is what I'm doing now.

Thanks also for taking my little rant in good humour, and again, kudos for taking the time and effort to respond.

It wasn't that I wanted an all round story, i just concluded that you have put this as a blog because on your previous ones only 3-10 people replied to/posted on them, therefor your 'blog' idea is failing, was just trying to help in terms of no one is interested because of the subject matter.

If i was you and wanted to give both a forum to the public and your staff is give a subject matter that all are interested in. Even your staff seemed to not care about free media. I asumed that the idea of the blog was to get some interesting dialog between sky and the public and to do that you need an engaging subject matter.

If I was wrong and you are posting this just because and not due to the editors blog having received poor interest then I apolagise.

T - yep, all for honesty. Remember my first Editors' blog entry when we launched the revamped site? (http://skynews7.typepad.com/my_weblog/2007/04/hi_from_the_ep.html)
I took a decision to be open, and take it on the chin, and I think/hope people appreciated that!

Vic - Check out the Have Your Say blog (today asking whether smokers should get time off work to get help giving up, and Your Stories (today about whether fortnightly rubbish collections work). Both I would hope are good earthy subjects that veryone will have a view on!

WEB 2.0 + Sky News = :-)

Be honest, Julian.

Take the BBC editor's blog - it's just like reading a press release at times. "Why we were right, and anyone who says otherwise was wrong".

If you use politicians as your guiding light (no, please, bear with me!) it's always the honest ones who speak their minds that are successful and interesting, not the ones that churn out party line. (I know, I work for one!)

There's always a tendency when you open yourselves up to public scrutiny to go on the defensive and justify everything you do. Don't get into the habit of doing that and admit when you make mistakes or balls things up, and be open about your decisions when you're happy with them.

Sorry but further to my earlier comment I do think that you need to keep the blogs acessable to everyone and I felt that your last two blogs, video and citizenship journalism - were not very engaging with me,, I think that in order to keep a blogg livley and interesting you need to aproach subjects that people are interested in (even if not in the news that day) or are just general topics ie what place does religion have in england today - something people can 'get their teeth in to'

Hi Tom, I see you're point about interactivity. Let me ask - if a correspondent posted a sketch or diary-style piece on a blog, would that affect how you viewed his/her news reports?

blogs blogs blags.

its one of those isnt it. Repetition of information posted elsewhere on the internet, or something original and informative. What do you display?

I think blogs need to be light hearted, straight to the point, easy to digest, easy to respond to and regularly updated.

Comments shouldnt be essential but appreciated. Posting users comments back on the net afterwards is essential. The user needs to get some sort of interaction out of it. Like now, i see this "post" button lurking as I type, but where will it post it to? will anyone read? will it show up on here? why do i bother? incentives are always good... why should i waste time typing s**t?!!!

Im actually thinking, "will this post get "posted" or will it get lost in the sands of time with millions of others?"

Blogging, its one of those things, write about something people want to hear about and you're on a winner. Otherwise, blog off!

I personally like the sky blogs page although it would be nice to have a conclustion written about what was discussed. I often wonder what the general opinion was and unless I read every post (Any I am not that patient) I never find out. Maybe they could refure to some of the more interesting, amusing points made by people, or once the blog is closed you could write a paragraph just saying '...well most of you seemed to think this.....although some think this'

Since the advancement of technology, many an element surrounding preferred channels of communication, education, information dissemination, as well as social interactivity has provided end users with real time information, alongside a wealth of knowledge surrounding local, as well as matters far a field.

Sky News’ blogs do by far reach, as well as provide, not only other such viewer elements pertaining an overriding section of differing views, but also the opportunity to provide and digest such momentous blogs in a manner non offending, honest as well as entertaining to say the very least.

So perhaps to assist your culminations, 3 very good reasons why I should stick with http://news.sky.com/skynews/blogs
(1) Quality
(2) Superior
(3) Entertaining
So, no need to call the “S.O.S” band as I think sky will always give it to us “Just The way You Like It”.

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