Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Why a career in national newspapers is the ideal training for a blogger

I spent quite a lot of my working life on the production side of national newspapers - as a subeditor and night editor. 

That means I got paid to play with words. Retelling stories in the most easily digestible form, making them considerably shorter but still just as informative, and writing catchy headings. 

And yes it was often just as much fun as you imagine it might be. 

However, times change and late night production shifts weren't compatible with small children so I moved on... and into the world of blogging.

But the move wasn't that big a leap because the skills that make a good blogger are exactly the same as the ones that make a good tabloid sub.

An instinct for story telling. It's crucial to understand deep down what it is you're saying. What's the story or the post about or who did what to whom? Not just the topic headline but exactly the point you are making.

Can write for toffee. Or anything else. We're not aiming for the Booker Prize here, but it's quite important to be able to string a sentence together. And to spell, a bit. 

Can see things from the other side. Tabloid folk know how to get out from behind the paper and see what the reader sees. They - and bloggers - must understand how to provide the reader with what they want, how to answer their questions and entertain. 

The ability to grab attention. Can you write a headline that makes people itch to read on? If so, you're in. Blogs, like tabloids only have a titchy smidge of time to capture a reader before the move on to the next shiny thing.

Understanding images. A good picture will always beat words, however beautifully crafted. Deal with it. 

Happy to get down and dirty. Obviously one day I will be a revered author of great literary fiction, however, until then I'd rather have people read stuff I've written because it's funny, pithy and interesting. Who wants high-brow, when there's fun to be had? 

I can also work fast, punctuate properly and swear extravagantly. None of these are essential for blogging, but they can help. 

So if you want to find an exceptional blogger in the crowded marketplace of very good ones, look for one who is used to juggling words for a living. 

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