Wednesday, October 15, 2008

When Blogging goes Right

As a person in a generation where technology dominates all, blogs have been a part of my daily media consumption for many years. I even had blogs with followers. While most of my posts were saturated with gossip and drama, some actually had content and were based on real news. After reading the chapter on writing for the online world, I realize some of the errors I have made in the past as well as some of the things I was doing right. To organize my discussion on the patterns of a good online story post I will use The Baltimore Sun’s Bay and Environment blog, written by Tim Wheeler.

The point of a blog is to be brief and to expound on an issue that a news story might not have had the opportunity to do. On October 13, Wheeler summarizes his work by using the headline, “Asian Oysters Revisited: a health threat?” The typical pattern for headlines for blogs is to make a play on words or execute some sort of clever word choice. While this does not follow the pattern, I learn a lot from its content. I learn what kind of oysters he will talk about and that the issue is not new. Wheeler grabs my attention by questioning whether or not there lies a health threat if Asian oysters are consumed. Next, I looked at the lead. Coming in at 52 words, Wheeler’s lead is a bit too long for the size of the publication. In the lead reader’s learn that Asian oysters are being used as a method to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. We also learn that the non-native species of oysters may be susceptible to picking up diseases and viruses and passing them along to humans. The lead does a good job in telling readers what is coming in the following paragraphs.

In the body of the blog post, Wheeler uses a handful of paragraphs to give information from sources such as the Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Environmental Impact Statement for Oyster Restoration in Chesapeake Bay published by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Norfolk, Virginia. He also gives his own opinion on the current situation in the latter paragraphs. Also in the body, the author uses four links to various sources including the Environmental Impact Statement. The use of the links is important to readers because should they click on them, they are likely to learn more than what Wheeler can teach in eight paragraphs, resulting in a better rounded opinion on the subject.

The blog post by Tim Wheeler is patterned after most posts. In just a few paragraphs, he is able to accomplish the following:
  • Grab the reader’s attention in the headline.
  • Effectively communicate to the audience in the lead.
  • Concisely tell the reader what is going on.
  • Give his opinion on the potential health threat of the consumption of Asian oysters, and,
  • Provide readers with enough links to supplement the blog post.

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