Amit Agarwal offered some good suggestions for bloggers back in December 2005 in his post, “How a Blogger can become a good journalist.” His suggestions include:

  1. Identify your sources (I would add, LINK YOUR SOURCES when possible)
  2. Respect the value of people’s time (AKA KISS: Keep It Simple Silly, people generally want to read short chunks of information, not a mini-novel when they are blog reading.)
  3. Use plain speech, and talk like a real person.
  4. Reputable pro media outlets use professional fact checkers. (So bloggers should check multiple sources too.)
  5. Opinions are not facts, even your opinions.

In my presentation session notes I have been in the habit of using all caps to differentiate my ideas and responses from those of the speaker, sometimes with the antecedent text: MY RESPONSE or MY THOUGHTS. I don’t think people need to necessarily follow this format, but I agree it is important to find a way to set your ideas and opinions apart.

These are good guidelines to share with students who are blogging, I think. I would add that personal reflections and connections are also very important. One of the things that distinguishes a blog from a more impersonal news source is the personal lens. We all look through the world with a unique set of lenses, and sometimes in formal writing we try to completely depersonalize our prose. There is a time and a place for that, but I think with blogs the personal aspect is generally welcome and a positive.

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