“If You Don’t Like the News, Make Some of Your Own”

Diners and readers "making their own news". Blogs and social networking sites enable us to become a news channel / © 2010

A long time ago, a rock radio station had this motto “If you don’t like the news, go make some of your own”. Some people really disliked it, some just didn’t get it. A salesman friend always complained when he heard this. What do they mean “go make some or my own”? How does one make some of their own news? Bloggers and social networkers are doing exactly that. They are not inventing or doing great things as much as reporting. I think that “go make some of your own” meant also go break your own marathon record and number of runs down a sky trail. What the rocker DJs on early morning show could not predict is how blogs and update streams can become a fully fledged media channel or even a magazine. This is an important point for traditional marketers, support managers and even salesmen.

The idea of “making your own news” by itself is a leap of faith. Until you have an ongoing blog, an image, a core message which continues for months or years, it may not be completely clear what can be done. First look at blogs and social networking sites (MySpace, facebook, Linked-In, Twitter.) Some should have the style, content or format useful for your blog. Use the content of each for inspiration. Also look at how journalists work, not just the end product: articles and TV news. Look at what it takes to put together a good story. Break down design, writing, content, flow and continuity of articles, subject matter. If you take journalism education and training as an example, it may help in thinking on a deeper level. Journalism students learn the theory and structure of how news and media systems work. They also learn the basics of creating and editing news (writing, broadcasting, producing and directing.) A crucial element in journalism training is practice work in school publications or radio stations. Some students also take apprenticeships at local newspapers, radio and TV stations. To the average corporate mar-com worker this example may seem a little extreme. Do bloggers for a software product need this much training and experience before putting up a blog? Granted, a young man planning a life long career in journalism is willing to put in time and energy into training. Still the skills and knowledge in many areas are going to be useful in new media just the same. Can you see yourself as a writer or an editor? Can you be the researcher of facts, news or content? Could you be a critic? write reviews of products, books or music?

Before jumping into design and writing think about your own writing (or editing or photographing.) Making your own news on the Internet is a competitive undertaking. Unlike newspapers and TV channels, on the Internet you have limitless competition. Not just direct competition for the similar content, but “replacement competition” from totally unrelated blogs, sites, portals and social networkers. Clarify your own message, look at what others are doing and position your writing: make your story unique. Newspaper reporters, editors and publishers circa the last generation had only to worry about the local papers and maybe other media channels. Most bloggers are not worried about competing story for story, day to day. In the end a blog is made out of a series of articles on a coherent topic (or idea or message.) Think of how newspaper columnist become popular. Think of a daily cartoon, even with a few frames and a few characters you can be unique and useful (and very few words.) Don’t worry about succeeding with the first twenty or fifty articles. Even Matt Groening who created The Simpsons started with Life in Hell. It was sarcastic and dark, underground stuff, still the precursor to a great TV show.

Now look at the positive side or should I say opportunity of “making your own news”. First of all, if you do it well and you are helpful you can become a source which people value and respect. If you do it long enough you can become an authority. Imagine being the New York Times or Wall Street Journal of your software product or diet program or home energy conversion club. Imagine not only aggregating news items but also telling your side of it. Just about everyone I know has snickered, sneered, screamed or cursed a TV screen. Now you don’t have to “take it anymore”, just get out a good story or reference a good resource. In business and technology until now there was no way to tell the the inside story. It was simply too hard or expensive to print a flyer or a brochure. It sounds too good to be true almost, but it’s not. E-Mail replacing FAX and FedEx sounded too good to be true, cheap color printers were too good to be true, infinite information accessible sounded too good to be true, any book you can imagine – with reviews – with detailed descriptions – with used copies all over the world for next to nothing sounded too good to be true… you get the point. Blogs and social networks is making your own news, So =>> JUST DO IT. <<= (with all the respect to NIKE)

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