September 11, 2014: As a content marketer, I often times have to switch my brain from news writing (journalism) to blogging, and vice versa. While both types of content creation fall under the “copywriting” umbrella, there are a number of fundamental differences that shape the two. For those that don’t write news or blog posts (or both) on a daily or weekly basis, the fine line that separates these two writing processes can easily become blurred.
Let’s take a look at some of these differences as we attempt to help bloggers and journalists stay on track and deliver the type of content they intend to their audience.
Tone and Structure
If you were standing on a street that just so happened to have a “Chuck E. Cheese” next to a federal building, it would be pretty clear which was which just based on appearance and “feel” alone. While I’m not calling blogging the Chuck E. Cheese of writing, this ease of differentiation should apply when comparing blogging and journalism.
News readers and audiences expect unbiased, well-balanced, and objective material. This means statements are backed by facts from reputable sources. On the flip side, blog readers often times are on the page to learn the opinions of the experts that are writing the piece. As a result, it is acceptable and welcomed when blogging to make comments that aren’t necessarily backed by fact to drive conversation and share experiences with readers.
I started one of my recent blog posts with very loose language and a question right there in the first paragraph. This would never be done with a piece of journalism. A journalistic story always begins with a professional statement (lead) that attempts to answer the “5 Ws” (Who, What, Where, When, and Why). A blog will often times use a statement or series of statements to pique the interest of the readers and set the stage for the rest of the post that will dive into deeper detail as it moves along.
Note: The “Inverted Pyramid” structure is an excellent visual reference to use when writing news. Notice the flow of information being presented.
(Image credit: www.nextnature.net)
Guidelines and Lifecycle of Content
News articles are almost always created with very specific word counts in mind, adhering to the publication and broader industry’s guidelines. Some blogging publications require a minimum amount of words from contributors, but more often than not, blogging is an open-ended process and can be comprised of as many or as few words as needed to provide a useful, succinct piece for the reader.
When news articles are created, they serve as a standalone piece, highly focused on the topic at hand and backed by facts. Blogs can be created as part of an ongoing series and are often valuable resources for a long period of time depending on the topic being covered.
Scope of Audience
When writing any piece of content, it’s essential to keep the audience in mind. Journalists and bloggers often times have slightly different end goals in terms of audience targeting. News articles tend to appeal to broad audiences for a short amount of time to generate buzz within a given industry. Blogs, on the other hand, are typically more narrowly focused on niche audiences within an industry.
For example, the industry news section of the KoMarketing site generally focuses on B2B marketing news as a whole, while our blog is made up of highly targeted posts from members of our team that focus on specific aspects of B2B marketing such as social media, PPC, content, sales, and more.
Timeliness is a critical component of any successful piece of journalism. Meeting deadlines and reporting factually on news as it is breaking will likely lead to a successful piece. The shelf life of a news story is limited, often becoming “old news” in the matter of days. Additionally, as I mentioned in a previous post, timing can be especially beneficial for online marketers as a relevant, well-timed piece could be featured in Google News.
Similar to journalism, blogging can be done at the time a story breaks, but allows the author to take more liberties with reporting (at their own reputation’s risk). While a successful blogging strategy typically follows an editorial calendar, its success is less commonly dependent on strict time-centric guidelines as determined by the editorial team.
Any successful blogger or journalist responds well to criticism. With this in mind, it’s important to understand where feedback comes from for journalists as well as bloggers. Feedback on news stories is generally only gathered from the editorial team of the publication prior to publishing. The editorial team will provide feedback to the writer and the writer will likely adhere to any suggested changes.
Blogs are much different when it comes to feedback as authors have an opportunity to leverage their audience through surveys, social interactions, previous comments and more to shape the style or tone of their future work (or even add to a previously published post).
Next time you’re writing a blog post or creating a news article, be sure to ask yourself “does this sound like blogging or journalism?” While the difference between the two doesn’t appear black and white on the surface, there are some fundamental differences that need to be followed in order to establish your publication as an authority under the blogging or journalism umbrella.