Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Is your blog quotable?

Journalists are quoting from blogs more often. Is yours quote ready?

My local newspaper recently quoted from a college president's blog when it needed information for an article. If my newspaper is doing it, yours probably is, too.

As somebody who interviews others and is interviewed herself, this is a bit alarming. First, bloggers in general are more casual about their writing than journalists are, which means their "facts" might not actually be "facts." There's more heresay, less fact checking for accuracy. If journalists are using them for information, are they also using some kind of vetting process to make sure the source is reliable and responsible? Second, I'm thoughtful about what I say to the media when I'm interviewed. If a "quote" is pulled from my blog, I'm deprived of the opportunity to make sure what I say is appropriate for the situation or the audience.

I realize my opinion doesn't matter so to make up for that, here are suggestions for anyone who might or wants to be quoted from their blog:
  • Get it right. Think of the harm you could cause if your facts weren't really facts.
  • Choose your words carefully. Take any chunk of your content -- especially a rant or something inflammatory -- and picture your mother reading that in her newspaper or hearing it read by a broadcaster. How does it sound now? Is that what you really want to say -- or the tone you want to use?
  • Monitor your emotions. If you don't want to be quoted, don't get all emotional on us. If you do want to be quoted, tell us how you really feel.
  • Pick your topics carefully. To get quoted, blog on big news current events and do so with a unique perspective. If there's a possibility you'll be quoted whether you want to be or not, stick with the topics you know well to minimize the chance that your shared commentary will be attacked by those who might know more.
  • Add appropriate "about me" information to the blog. You want to be identified appropriately.
This trend will only grow as media outlets continue to cut budgets and ask staffers or freelancers to do more with (or for) less. Quoting from existing material -- whether it's a blog, a book, or an interview elsewhere -- takes less time than securing a personal interview.

Has content from your blog been lifted and quoted by the media? How did you feel about it?


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