What I learned my first blogging year

It has been one year since I started www.themediamanager.com. Time for some reflection on what it has taught and changed in me.

1. Only opinions attract opinion. My blog suffered repeatedly when I wouldn’t/couldn’t/didn’t take a stand. When I evaluated (instead of echoed) positions or research, user comments increased. Still, my overall reticence yielded a poor traffic-to-comment ratio. Learning: You have to add value and that often means staking ground.

2. Consumers crave a greater understanding of the craft, its methods and policies from the corner office, the newsroom floor, and the industry itself. The more I explained intricacies of news management, the more I acquired a community. Learning: Transparency + accessibility = engagement. Engagement = credibility.

3. For every lonely crank there are crowds of the wise and constructive. I spent far too much time attending to sour voices and not enough time cultivating good contributors for the discussions I wanted. Learning: Thick skin is in for 2009.

4. Asking lame questions through the blog — as in, “What do you think?” — isn’t useful in the least. If you’re going to be challenged, you have to first challenge someone. Garbage in, garbage out, so garbage ask, garbage answer. Learning: Seeking participation is a contact sport.

5. Giving credit where it’s due is a virtue online because your community feels respected, encouraged and understood. In the link economy, everyone wins when we acknowledge. Learning: There are six billion people on the planet. A few of them are bound to have better ideas than I do. I need to get over that.

I came away with a few warm and fuzzies from 2008. The Web-first newsroom is in full bloom and doesn’t undermine the legacy newsroom — they perform different roles. Blogging is becoming the new first draft of history and may become a newsroom’s backbone one day soon. Twitter helps us find people we never knew about and build audiences that want to know about us. I like that newsrooms appear wedded to continual training, because experience matters. We need a further nudge to understand social media, a new and larger mobile device to read and view electronically and a firmer grasp on audio in journalism.

My permanent asterisk here: These views are personal. They do not necessarily represent my employer’s. Please don’t attach them — or attack them — as indicative of my newsroom’s or owner’s policy or belief.