Journalist versus Blogger

A week or two ago, I attended a really big conference in Orlando for one of the niches I blog about. When I say really big I mean 31,000 attendees and 1000 exhibitors. It’s pretty outrageous.

Although, I say it’s like being a kid in a candy store. As a blogger, I need content and advertisers. Each of the exhibitors at the event were potentially both: content and advertisers. Of course, it was my job to get the great content from these people and to also show them the advertising possibilities. With 1000 advertisers, I had to be pretty selective, but either way it was a lot of fun. Tiring, but fun.

A few interesting things happened in this process. First, is that I spent a decent amount of time in the press room for the conference. It’s a nice relatively quiet place to sit down, use the internet, charge my devices, and grab something to eat (except the day they ran out of food). The other fun part about the press room is that you get the chance to meet a bunch of other press people at the conference. I definitely met some really nice and interesting people.

Although, I overheard a conversation in the press room that really made me think. One of the journalists was talking to another journalist about a story they were working on. They talked about how they hadn’t seen much about a certain topic at the conference.

Ok, so you’re probably thinking that’s not that earth shattering. It’s not. However, it did cause me to stop and think through the process that these journalists go through to write a story. They have a specific topic in mind and they go out and find the information related to that topic.

In fact, I saw a story just like this come out of the conference. It was about all the walking you did at a conference of this size and the challenge of standing in a booth all day. The story was actually pretty good and made me laugh. Although, you could just imagine this journalist going from booth to booth asking exhibitors about their feet and how they were feeling. You could imagine they had this story in mind as they searched out people’s experience with it.

The funny thing is that I really rarely have a story in my head as I go into a meeting with someone or when I attend the conference. Certainly I will have prepared to know the person and/or company that I’m learning about. I’ll have considered questions I want to ask them that might bring out some interesting information, but I have no agenda going in. Well, the only agenda I have is to pull out something interesting from what they said that will be of value to my readers.

As one vendor said, you go in trying to find out what the story really is and don’t go in trying to find info that backs the story you want to write.

Quite honestly, as a blogger, the story basically writes itself. Maybe the difference between me as a blogger and a journalist is that I want to be a thought leader. I don’t want to just tell a story or report on something that happened. I want to provide value above and beyond telling a great story or reporting news.

One of the exhibitors that I talked to asked me what my editorial calendar looked like. I must admit that I was a little stumped on how to respond to him. I was partially familiar with the idea of an editorial calendar and I could see how it could be beneficial for advertisers to know that you were going to be writing about a specific topic in a specific time frame.

I still haven’t quite reconciled those two things. I guess I mostly reconcile it now by creating blogs that target a specific niche. Rarely do I stray from that niche. So, when someone wants to know what I’m going to write about on my blog, they can be sure it’s going to be information about that specific niche.

My response to that exhibitor (and hopefully future advertiser) wasn’t very good. I think I replied that I have 300+ draft blog posts topic that I can choose from. So, I look through those to decide what topic I might post about next. Plus, as I read and learn about the industry I create new draft blog posts which basically contain ideas or links to things that I could write about.

Most of my blogs aren’t about breaking news. They’re not about reporting events. Those are time sensitive and require a ton of commitment and connections to do really well. Instead, by focusing my blogs on being a thought leader and open forum for other people to share their thoughts, I’m able to create content that isn’t very time sensitive. In fact, I might write a week’s worth of posts and then go on vacation for a week. I come back to a zillion comments that I missed and need to look at, but at least I have that freedom.

There you go. There’s my take on the difference between a blogger and a journalist. What’s your experience?

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2 Responses to “Journalist versus Blogger”

  1. Keith Carbine Says:

    John – thanks. Well said. I didn’t hear about the food running out LOL

  2. John Says:

    Yes, it was pretty terrible. It would have been one thing if I’d shown up at 2:00 and the food was gone. However, I was there at like 12-12:15 and it was all gone. At least there was a roll left, so I ate it and headed out. I grabbed some chocolate from a booth too;-)