Guest blogger Jack Templeton on the importance of blogging
In the second of a series of posts for the Online Journalism Blog, Student Online Journalist of the Year Jack Templeton writes about how important blogging has been to his career.
The News & Star made a plea on their website for bloggers in early 2005 while I was part way through my journalism degree.
It’s regarded as something of a cardinal sin but my blog largely comprised of neurotic, self-indulgent anecdotes that as a whole presented itself as yet another tedious journalist with aspirations of becoming a comedian.
While it wasn’t until later I fully appreciated the benefits of blogging in terms of posting my strongest work, unpublished interviews and reviews of gigs with live audio recordings, I think there’s still a lot that can be learnt in writing a ‘diary’ type blog. In my case, it helped me develop style and an ability to make the inane and dull come alive.
Around two months into writing it, I was invited into the office by deputy editor [now head of digital content development] Nick Turner who commented on how much he enjoyed the blog and as such wanted to offer me a summer contract to work on a range of website projects.
I find it really quite incredible that this one small blog was directly responsible for the launch of my career and particularly that I was doing it all while at university.
It should be such standard procedure for any young journalist to maintain a blog of published work that it almost feels embarrassing to describe what mine was.
When I signed up for my degree there was no online journalism module, but by the time I graduated it had fast developed into a huge selling point of the course. Entire lectures were now being taught to years below on the subject of blogging.
So, things are beginning to get interesting now as you’re starting to get more and more graduates at the start of their careers who understand the purpose of blogging, networking and online journalism.
I was told it a lot by journalists I met over the years, but never believed, exactly how much luck can form your career.
I was lucky that I quietly sneaked in and expressed an interest in online journalism and blogging while it was still widely regarded as something of a lesser product.
I was lucky that there was little to no competition from my fellow students in making the most of all these new opportunities.
And, most of all, I was lucky that I established the right kind of contacts at a time before the role and significance of online journalism was truly at the forefront of the industry agenda.
It’s to the credit of regional newspapers like the News & Star that they had the foresight to recognise exactly how drastic that change would be, even before Rupert Murdoch’s industry-awakening 2005 speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors.
Their willingness through recent years to push blogging, RSS feeds, networking and other now common tools has always been borne from passion and not necessity, which I believe is the only attitude you can have.
This was one of the reasons why I chose to stay in Carlisle, ahead of London which is where my next ambition lies.
While I have been pleasantly surprised at the willingness shown towards me by journalists in something of a new role for the paper, I have been less surprised at the lack of enthusiasm for them to join me. Though, having said that, it would be unreasonable to expect them to when I haven’t quite found my feet with the role myself yet. While all in good humour, the general attitude in the newsroom towards blogging is one of ridicule, though, perhaps encouragingly, certain stories are being recognised – and unprompted by myself – to having blogging potential.