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Developing a Successful Journalistic Blog

About This Course

Writing an article for a newspaper, producing a television news segment, editing a radio story — these types of journalism have existed long enough to develop well-established storytelling conventions and best practices. Blogging has finally come of age as a practice increasingly infused through almost every newsroom.

Some of the largest news organizations in the country have taken to blogging as their primary storytelling approach. But models of blogging are still so young that many journalists haven't been taught how to blog, and there are few places to acquire or refine the relevant skills. Not many journalism schools offer blogging guidance as part of their curricula, and most training material isn't tailored to bloggers with journalistic standards.

In this course, we'll start at the very beginning — establishing a blog, from picking a topic to picking software. We'll talk about five key elements of successful blogs. We'll explore some of the legal and ethical questions you're likely to wrestle with as you go along. And we'll get right down to the nitty-gritty of blogging technique, from writing great headlines to planning your blogging schedule.

Let's get this out of the way: Blogging is an art, not a science. Like all aspects of the digital media world, it's changing quickly and significantly. In other words, there's no formula for getting this right.

But there are some bedrock principles, unlikely to change anytime soon; many apply far beyond the realm of blogging. And most of the techniques we'll explore apply to many forms of publishing on the Internet, whether it's blogging, tweeting or Tumblr-ing. Plus, there are ways to optimize your blogging efforts for success, however you measure it.

Here is what you are in for:

  • The basics of establishing a blog
  • Figuring out your topic
  • Identifying your audience
  • Defining success
  • Software and setup
  • Naming, structure and design
  • The elements of successful blogs
  • Focus
  • Curation
  • Frequency
  • Voice
  • Community
  • Ethical and legal considerations
  • Five great traits
  • Sourcing images
  • Being accountable
  • Practical blogging techniques
  • Planning your content
  • Using social media
  • Ten blog posts to write
  • Five writing tips
  • Writing headlines
  • Managing your community

What will I Learn?

  • The basics of establishing a blog
  • The elements of successful blogs
  • Ethical and legal consideration
  • Practical blogging techniques

Who Should Take This Course?

Journalists starting out in blogging and casual bloggers hoping to step up their game.

Course Instructor

Matt Thompson

Matt Thompson

Matt Thompson is an editorial product manager at National Public Radio, where he's helping to coordinate the development of 12 topic-focused local news sites in conjunction with NPR member stations.

Before moving to DC, Thompson served as the interim online community manager for the Knight Foundation. In May 2009, he completed a Donald W. Reynolds Fellowship at the Reynolds Journalism Institute. He came to RJI from his position as deputy Web editor for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, where he led the creation of the Edgie-award-winning, socially networked arts-and-entertainment website

He worked at The Poynter Institute from 2003-04 as the Naughton fellow for online reporting and writing. While at Poynter, Thompson and his colleague Robin Sloan produced the Flash movie “EPIC 2014,” a picture of the media past, set 10 years in the future, which was written up in the New York Times, Financial Times, USA Today, the Guardian, on MSNBC and elsewhere. In 2010, Thompson completes a four-year term on Poynter's national advisory board.

He graduated with honors in English from Harvard College in 2002, after writing his senior thesis on the television show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Outside of work, he blogs at

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