What Makes a Blog?

What is Blogging, Really?

Communication is one of the most fundamental parts of our society, and blogging, along with social media, is likely the true modern form of communicating.  Like other forms of communication, such as newspapers, television, and radio, blogging allows someone to write about something, an event, a person, or even an idea, and share it with a widespread audience.  Occasionally, people share their opinions about a certain topic.  This spread of information and opinions helps make our society well informed, as people can learn about what’s going in their community, both on a small and large scale.  It also helps connect everyone, because it gives us the ability to read about what other people think.  This is where blogging comes in particularly handy.  When someone blogs, instead of writing for a newspaper or magazine or appearing on television, it gives the audience the ability to respond.  Instead of just reading an article and possibly discussing it with some of my friends, when I read a blog I can respond directly to the writer.

Not only does blogging allow for a much larger distribution of knowledge than other traditional forms of media, it provides an outlet for much more information to be spread.  In Writing for Digital Media, Brian Carroll explains that online media, specifically blogs, allows the audience to do more than just read the contact, but interact with it as well.  Basically, blogging, along with other web media outlets, creates a huge network of both people and information causing our society to be much more connected and informed.

From Spoken Word to the Blog

parchment-2
“Parchment” by Linus Bohman. Photo provided by flickr.

The way people have communicated has changed throughout the centuries.  Jill Walker Rettberg discusses in Blogging the two biggest changes in communication and its form.  She explains that these are “the introduction of writing itself,” and “the introduction of print and the subsequent ability to mass produce identical copies of a work.”  She goes on to explain how scholar Walter Ong calls society’s movement toward electronic communication a “secondary orality,” and then says, as I would agree, that blogs are in many ways more like “oral cultures.”

During the initial transition from spoken word to writing, Plato argues that oral communication is superior to writing.  It allows for interaction to take place between the person communicating and the person being communicated to.  Writing, on the other hand, is static.  Once read, the audience has gained everything it can from the text and cannot necessarily talk to the writer to pose questions or challenge ideas.  However, with the invention of the Web, and more specifically the blog, Rettberg explains, most everything Plato disliked about writing is made better.  The writer can, in a sense, be present when distributing his work, and can even answer questions or correct mistakes concerning his writing.  In a way, blogging has become a mix of written and oral communication.

Journalism Versus Blogging

newspaper
“Newspaper” by Victor Carreon. Photo provided by flickr.

What exactly is the difference between journalism and blogging?  They’re both fairly similar, both in intent and style, but they also have some major differences.  It’s very much like the square and rectangle comparison: all squares are rectangles, but not rectangles are squares.  All blogging is journalism, but not all journalism is blogging.

Journalism generally gives a report on an event, likely has some bias, but not a major amount, and simply gives facts about an event. According to the American Press Institute, journalism is “the activity of gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting news and information.  Blogging is much more subjective.  Often, journalists have their own blog outside of their other reports.  It allows them to voice their opinions more openly, and allows them to speak directly with their audience.  They can contact others to discuss their opinions and even include other viewpoints in their reporting.  Blogging allows for a much more casual and open form of journalism.

Blogging-Doing It Right

To write an effective blog, there are some general aspects that need to be handled well, which are explained in Carroll’s Writing for Digital Media.

  • Credibility
    • The blog must be believable, it needs to contain accurate data and be unbiased
  • Bias
    • This is very much linked with credibility.  In more traditional journalism, it was necassary to keep personal opinions out, but now these opinions help make a blog believable
  • Identification
    • The writer must somehow relate with his audience, otherwise they won’t care to read the blog because they won’t feel conncected or important
  • Transparency
    • When writing a blog, being clear and making sure opinions and motives are known are important to being liked and understood, and again believable
  • Accountability
    • The writer has to take responsibility for his writing and the methods he or she used to get information, which helps them stay respected and liked

But, one of the most important things when writing a blog is for the writer to stay true to himself.  He needs to write well and be interesting, no matter how he writes or what kind of writing he does.  In On Writing Well, William Zinsser says, “If nonfiction is where you do your best writing… don’t be buffaloed into the idea that it’s an inferior species… Good writing is good writing, whatever form it takes and whatever we call it.”

Featured Image:

“Wifi” by Nicolas Nova. Photo provided by flickr.

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