Saturday, December 22, 2007

Should writers blog while developing and writing stories?

Stephen Baker of BusinessWeek has a blog post entitled What if I had blogged the cover while reporting? in which he raises the question as to the extent to which it may be beneficial for print journalists to blog about stories they are developing in advance of the story appearing in print. As he simply puts it:

So, which is better: Writing what we learn as we learn it, or holding it secret and publishing it later?

He gets a few comments, covering the range of both extremes, including mine:

I suspect that the "right" answer is to do both: cover the "journey" online for readers who are just as interested in the back story and greater details that may be prone to being edited out of a print story and then release the distilled and refined "story" for those who prefer a more concise and crisp and professionally presented "story."

Online, we can follow along on your "journey" and actually get value out of dead ends, cul-de-sacs and greater detail that simply doesn't make sense in a print story. And, you get a chance to interact with readers along the way and get their feedback that may in fact help you write a better print story in the end.

In print, you and the editor get to have more careful control over the narrative flow and can produce a story that can leave the reader feeling that they just had a profound, insightful, and exciting experience.

Maybe one is technically "better" than the other, or maybe both in tandem is best.

He does give us his current view on the question at the end of his post:

All that said, I'm planning to try starting my next stories online. I'll start in January (I'm on vacation now) I want to see if it can lead to a new type of magazine story. Or at least new for me. I'm tired of worrying about getting scooped.

So much angst over something that is so obvious to people living in the Web 2.0 world.

But, at least we should be grateful that Stephen was willing to air the question "in public" at all, let alone biting the bullet and committing to giving the hybrid approach a try. I look forward to reading about his next story before it is "officially" really a story in the minds of "management" at BW.

-- Jack Krupansky


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