A blog-a-thon in your newsroom?
Posted by adviserdavid
How many reporting beats would you create if you had enough people? One for every residence hall? Every academic major? Every sport, club, demographic, spare time preference, religion, transportation choice, relationship status … I doubt the list ever would end.
You’ll never have enough trained journalists to cover all those beats. So here’s a suggestion: a blog-a-thon in your newsroom.
You may have considered hosting (or linking to) non-staff bloggers who are interested in those topic areas you can’t reach. The appeal is obvious. Wouldn’t it be great if you had a blogger posting every day about his/her residence hall or off-campus neighborhood? Your readers get the information, and you get some tips for bigger stories.
But how do you recruit the bloggers? Maybe take a page from the book (a line from the code?) of organizers who are staging “code-a-thons” on college campuses. You don’t necessarily have to stay up all night. You could advertise a “blog-a-thon” for several hours to teach anyone who drops by how to start a blog and the basics of how to keep one going. Set them up on the spot, get the blogs tied into their social media, etc.
Consider creating a “Campus Blogging Network,” possibly incorporating your product name, with a logo that can go on each site.
Regardless of how you reach out to bloggers, make sure someone keeps an eye on all local blogs and curates the best entries for your readers and social media followers. And use social media to lavish praise on the most prolific and highest quality. Getting a post linked or retweeted or “favorited” is gratifying for any blogger and should keep them involved.
Someone out there is worrying right now that some blogger will post something inappropriate or libelous. I suggest you adopt a policy much like many sites use for story comments. You don’t police posts in advance, but you reserve the right to take down posts and/or de-link blogs. Obviously you want to tell your bloggers that you expect basic decency and fact-based posts. I think problems will be few if you require bloggers to use their real names.
I wasn’t able to find an example of a student media outlet doing this in a big way, so post a comment if you can point to one.