Blogs as Journalistic Tools
I found it difficult to identify blogs which could clearly be described as ‘journalistic’. This was because news sites themselves (like the BBC) have some characteristics of a blog, whilst sites which described themselves as blogs tended to have a much more narrative and individualistic in tone, and didn’t conform to the news pyramid.
I would argue this demonstrates that, as the medium of ‘the blog’ has developed, and indeed online content as a whole has matured and diversified, it has become harder to define ‘a blog’ and isolate the format from other mediums.
This is supported by the fact that WordPress, designed as a blogging platform, is now used extensively as a way of creating websites with far greater functionality than simply displaying posts in chronological order. Conversely the BBC News website has many characteristics which could classify it as a blog, for example it is an ongoing chronicle of info, with successive posts updating key stories. It contains lots of archive content and links to stories elsewhere on the web, and enables different ways of searching content, for example by category or location.
The Huffington Post – http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/ is a journalistic new site which is described as a blog. Founded in 2005, The Huffington Post originated in America but has since launched other national and local editions, for example Huffington Post Canada and Huffington Post Chicago. Many bloggers with specialist knowledge contribute, and the site carries content on a large range of topics including international news and finance, sport, science, celebrity news and culture.
The Huffington Post is laid out in a similar way to a news site from providers such as the BBC. It has major news stories at the top, with various angles covered by different writers. Further down, some stories are of a traditional news style, e.g. ‘Three members of the same family feared among Glasgow dead’, whilst others have more of a personal tone and lifestyle focus, e.g. ‘Seven Ways to Avoid Stress and Enjoy the Holidays’. Posts have a varying degree of journalistic structure – some follow the pyramid approach whilst others are written like reviews or features.
The Guardian has a main news site where you can also link through to a blogging site – http://www.theguardian.com/tone/blog From this you can choose from a wide range of blogs which address specific interests, for example ‘Crime and Justice’, ‘Allotment’ and ‘Bikes’. The blogs carry stories which could generally be considered ‘news’ but which wouldn’t make it to the front pages, or to the home page of the main website, for example ‘The Coalition has been a great disappointment to wildlife lovers’.
The blog is designed with a clean feel, with an introduction and an image for each post. Some stories are highlighted as part of a series, e.g ‘India Untamed’ or ‘Andes to Amazon’. Whilst, as mentioned above, many have a news angle, others are written as features. This shows a similar cross-over in content style to that seen in analysis of The Huffington Post and the BBC.
Finally, a blog which engages with a global trend on a journalistic level, StreetArtNews purports to be the definitive guide to the StreetArt scene – http://www.streetartnews.net/. This blog features updates on new pieces and events from around the world.
It described itself as follows: “Since 2009, StreetArtNews has exhaustively covered cutting edge murals and the artists that powers them. As we enter our fifth year, we’re looking beyond the murals themselves to explore how they impact our lives.”
This blog combines a newsworthy tone and journalistic style with upbeat and creative language, reflecting the subject matter. Each blog is introduced alongside an image on the homepage, and readers are encouraged to click to the full story. Photography is key, again reflecting the subject.
In conclusion, it was difficult to find journalistic blogs outside of the mainstream digital news network. The format is now largely used on news websites which don’t define themselves as blogs. The Huffington Post perhaps best represents the blurring of the lines between news websites and journalistic blogs. Some specialist blogs, like StreetArtNews, are written in a journalistic style, but many more are descriptive and have little structure, for example The Londoner – http://www.thelondoner.me/