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AT ISSUE

NEW PUBLISHING TRENDS: MEMOIRS & BLOGS

Sreenath Sreenivasan
Sreenath Sreenivasan

Sreenath Sreenivasan
Associate Professor of Professional Practice and Dean of Students, Graduate School of Journalism

You’ve been running a successful series of workshops on blogging for journalists, and on top of that, you keep a blog for all your thoughts on journalists’ blogging. Clearly, you've been thriving in the age of the blog.
With more than 50 million blogs out there, there's a lot of blogging going on—and I’d be the first to admit that not all of it is good. Most are just public ramblings by folks whose thoughts aren't worth reading—and, in fact, are read only by the writer and his or her mother.

How would you compare blogs that take the form of a personal diary, versus those that read like reports from the field?
I don't do personal blogging myself, but I certainly read some of them. I also enjoy group blogs—one of my favorites is Gothamist.com, which I read at least once a day. Various writers blog about what’s going on in the city—not just events, but also their reflections, recommendations and complaints. It puts the city on a more intimate level than any other forms of communication. When I am traveling, Gothamist.com, is my first stop to see what I am missing about my city.

I also like personal digests by people who are good at filtering the welter of information found on the Web—for instance, the popular media blog Poynter.org/romenesko, which I check 5–6 times a day. Jim Romenesko, a former reporter, started this blog on his own, as a means of disseminating media news and gossip. He would get up at 5:00 a.m. each weekday and surf the Web to find articles of relevance to people in the news business. Within a few hours, he would post links to these articles with brief descriptive blurbs, and his blog soon became mandatory reading for many of us.  In 1999, the Poynter Institute, a media training think tank in Florida, hired him to do his blogging on their site.

Can you analyze why blogging is becoming so popular? And does the trend hold a particular attraction for journalists?
Blogging has taken off because it’s easy to do and because people want to share their ideas with the world. The hard part isn't the blogging itself. The hard part is having something interesting to say. Journalists and writers should use blogging as a way to extend their “brand” and get new readers and audiences. Jim Romenesko is one example; the British-American journalist Andrew Sullivan is another. Both have extended their brands with their unique blogging styles. Now Time.com is hosting Sullivan’s blog, The Daily Dish, on its site.

If you could read any contemporary person’s memoirs or blog, whose would it be?
Considering he’s back in the news, I'd like to read the updated memoirs or blog of General Colin Powell.

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AT ISSUE is a series of features in The Record and on the web, intended to gather viewpoints from faculty and staff on current news topics.

Published: Aug 25, 2006
Last modified: Nov 14, 2007