Diving in with Feeds, Blog Stats, and Links

Is blogging journalism? What is a feed? Why should I care? Who is visiting my site? Is a link a source? Here are a few things to think about before going public with your blog.

Blogging vs. Journalism

Ask yourself, is this information:

  • original or recycled?
  • accurate or assumed?
  • useful or merely entertaining?
  • something that others want or need to know?

Feeds

A feed is constantly updated information of what has been posted or commented on your blog. It’s the text without the design.

When you post on your blog, you are creating a feed. To see it, type in YOUR URL/feed

WordPress offers a nice description of feeds.

For a free, web-based feed reader, try Bloglines or Google Reader.

Blog Stats

You want to know who is reading your blog, where they are coming from, where they are going. Click on your Blog Stats tab and explore.

Links

Links are your life blood. They give you traffic, readers, a reputation, and legitimacy.

James Foust writes that “links are second only to text in their ability to convey information and meaning to the user.” But anyone can create a Web page with a list of links. As a journalist, you are looking for the best, most useful, and most essential links that provide:

  • background
  • additional information on your story
  • alternate point of view
  • or further exploration.

And there are proper ways to link and not to link. And there are ethical and legal issues involved. (Read Chapters 8 and 10 in Foust.)

Three case studies to help you think about the ethics of linking:

1. Is Wikipedia a reliable source of information? Should you cite it, quote it, or link to it? (Here is a discussion of the issue.)

2. Would you link to the Web site where Sarah Palin’s stolen emails are posted? (See what the WashingtonPost.com decided.)

3. Should you link to someone’s personal MySpace page for a story? Should you quote from it? (See what The New York Times decided in one high profile case and how they explained it to readers.)

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