How to feed the beast that is your newspaper blog

From Amy Gohran,
At many news orgs, there’s now another “beast” to feed. Many reporters are being asked or required to blog. A lot of these reporters aren’t happy about it, because (at least at first) they see this as an increase in their daily story load.

But it doesn’t have to be that beastly, if you’re smart about it.

Here’s a tip: If you’re a reporter who also blogs, don’t use your blog to post stories. Instead, use it to post complementary content around your stories.

Specifically, here’s what you can do…

* Blog as notepad. If you’re following an issue and you come across an interesting angle or tidbit that is relevant but doesn’t warrant its own story, instead of just jotting yourself a note about it, blog it. If possible, create a category or tag in your blog so interested community members can easily track that issue through your blog. That also makes it easy for you to find that note when you are ready to do a follow-up story.

* Distributed reporting. So many meetings, so little time. Let’s say you can’t get to a public meeting. So you post a blog item to let the community know the meeting’s happening and why you think it might matter. Toss out a couple of questions you’d ask if you were going. Invite your readers to attend the meeting, and maybe pose those questions. Ask them to post their notes – and the answers they received – in the comments. More fodder for you.

* Community outreach. Pose open questions to your blog audience. Agenda-setting works best when it works both ways.

* Cutting room floor. Did your editor cut a particularly poignant anecdote or pithy observation from your latest story simply for space? Blog it! It’s already written, so why not make it work for you? Make sure you always link to the published story, of course.