Revising Blog Postings and News Stories

My friend and colleague Dave Taylor runs several hugely popular weblogs on tech, business, and parenting topics. This morning he had a post that I think many in the news business can relate to: Why Bloggers Must Be Historical Revisionists.

Dave’s posting echoes some themes of a good cross-blog conversation he and I had going earlier on whether it’s OK to edit or revise blog postings. (To follow that discussion, start with my Aug. 1 posting, Rewriting blog history: Bad idea, and follow the breadcrumb trail of links.)

Here’s how developments in the Jon Benet Ramsey case, which is a local story for Dave and me, sparked Dave’s latest observations on strategies for correcting or updating blog postings…

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3 Must-Use Online Tools for Journalists

As I mentioned earlier, this weekend I’m speaking at the annual conference of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).

On Saturday, Jeff South (Va. Commonwealth Univ.) and I will be hosting a session from 3:30-4:30 pm on this theme: “Technology: A User’s Guide to Software, Hardware and Other Tools Revolutionizing Journalism.” (Incidentally, just before that, from 2:15-3:15, is a session hosted by Robert Cox of the Media Bloggers Association entitled “The Good and Bad About Blogging.” I’m definitely going to sit in on that one, and will live blog it if there’s good wifi.)

Jeff’s handout for our session is available as a pdf download from SPJ because he’s organized enough to get his handout done and in to SPJ on time.

In contrast, I only finished my SPJ session handout yesterday, shortly before I dashed off to host the first-ever Front Range Blogger Meetup (which was a huge success and I’ll blog about that next). So here is my handout for the session: Top 3 Must-Use Online Tools for Journalists (pdf).

If you’re not a fan of pdf files, here’s the text of that handout…
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Front Range (CO) Blogger Meetup Aug. 23

As much as I adore conversational media, I like face-to-face conversations even more. I know there are lots of bloggers in the Boulder-Denver (CO) area, but we never seem to get together much. I’d love to meet some of these people.

So this weekend I decided to do something about it. I signed up as a Meetup.com organizer and arranged the first-ever monthly Front Range Bloggers Meetup. It’s Aug. 23, 2006, 6-9 pm (MST) at Trident Bookseller & Cafe, 940 Pearl St., Boulder, CO.

If you’re a blogger located along Colorado’s Front Range, or if you’re from this region and you like reading blogs or are thinking about blogging, feel free to stop by! This event is free.

Please RSVP for this event via Meetup.com. Several people have already indicated they’re coming.

Even if you can’t make it on Aug. 23, please join this group on Meetup.com so you can get announcements of future events. I’m sure we’ll try other locations for these monthly meetings as this develops.

Conversational Media Tools at Capture the Conversation

I’ve recently started blogging for one of my  clients, Room 214. They’re an internet marketing firm that offers an intriguing service, Capture the Conversation. This service gets to the heart of why conversational media is so valuable and important. I think the Room 214 people and I can learn a lot from each other.

The Capture the Conversation blog is a good resource for marketing/PR pros and others who want to learn how to make the most of conversational media. My "beat" there will mainly be the tools of conversational media.

So when I have tool-focused topics to discuss, I’ll post over there. (I’ll mention it here, and on my other blog The Right Conversation, with a link). I’ll continue to post my think pieces and open questions to The Right Conversation. I believe that’s a complementary content strategy — we’ll see how it works out.

Over at the Capture the Conversation blog, I just launched into what will be a multi-part discussion of the tools of comment tracking. Today’s post is very introductory, but watch for followups. See: Tracking Blog Comments: The Challenge

BlogHer 06: Tons of Coverage

Over the last few days I (and a few other people) have been adding to the BlogHer 06 live/post blogging coverage wiki. It now features dozens of links. I won’t have a chance to add much to it over the next few days, and I know there are plenty of items that aren’t on there yet which should be.

This is an open public wiki, so if you know of a link that should be on there but isn’t yet, please click "edit page" to add it. Thanks!

Explaining Substantive Edits: Good Idea (Rewriting Blog History, Part 2)

Yesterday’s post, Rewriting blog history: Bad idea, sparked some interesting discussion in its comments thread and in other weblogs (by Dave Taylor, Tom Simpson, and Kent Newsome).

I realized through this conversation that I hadn’t expressed my thoughts clearly enough, so here’s a second go at it.

From my perspective, it’s perfectly fine to change your mind and revise, retract, or clarify your statements, whether on a blog or elsewhere. In fact, I’m writing this post for exactly that purpose.

I also think it’s a good idea to revisit postings to fix typos, tighten up sentences, etc. — and if those nit-fixes don’t substantially alter your meaning, no need to point them out.

That said, in my experience it is indeed almost always a bad move to delete statements or postings without acknowledgment or explanation. I’m not talking about minor edits — I’m talking about trying to make content “disappear” and then acting like it never existed.

That strategy is almost certain to backfire — causing a bigger fuss than a simple explanation would have done, and possibly damaging your reputation or credibility in the process.

In short, ethical conduct online means owning up to what you publish — even if you have to remove it. And there may well be good reasons to remove it (legal, factual, ethical, social, and so on).

Here’s a fairly recent example from my own experience…

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Rewriting blog history: Bad idea

(UPDATE AUG. 2: This post sparked intriguing followup and conversation by Dave Taylor, Tom Simpson, and Kent Newsome. I realize I needed to clarify something about the point I’m making here, which I did in this followup posting.)

I’ve seen this happen many times: Someone posts something in haste to a weblog. He later regrets it, recognizes an error or embarrassment, or is criticized for it — and then deletes the post in equal haste, hoping that erases the event and no one noticed.

While that may seem like a safe strategy (as long as you delete the post quickly, before it gets indexed by search engines), it’s actually a very bad idea. In my experience, it’s wisest to assume that anything you post online will live forever, regardless of whether you delete it from its original location. (Note: I fixed a typo in that sentence. Thanks for spotting it, Dave Taylor.)

Here’s why that’s so…

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