Issues in developing an online community are many and persistent in the journalist community, whether they are appropriate and necessary for everyone is the question.
In “Newspaper columnists ought to be the perfect bloggers. So why aren’t more doing it well?” the statement is made that columnists are much like bloggers in the way they appeal to their audiences and write stories in which their readers can relate. With this statement I must agree. The style and type of conversations seen in columns is clearly comparable to what we see in blogs all over the internet, but does this make the transition easy? That I disagree with.
I think maintaining an online audience is far more difficult. Unlike written columns where the readers may read it because they always read that column in a magazine or newspaper, and it is the only one they have available. On the internet, if you don’t like something two sentences in, you head back to the search engine and select something else. Keeping and maintaining people’s attention on the internet may be the most difficult thing to do over learning calculus.
When it comes to requiring journalists to maintain an online presence through outlets like blogs or twitter I’ll admit I’m torn. It depends on your level of notoriety and typical style and topic of discussion. If you’re a popular columnist for Cosmopolitan magazine then absolutely! Your audience is the first to grow up in a completely digital and interactive age. They need things right now and a social media and web presence allows them to feel that they are getting what they need. They want to feel that they are being heard by the people writing for them and that topics will relate to what they’re going through. However, if you have the stature and reputation of someone like Brian Williams or are heavily news based, then no, I don’t think anything more than a twitter is necessary. Adults don’t use social media and the internet as a means to talk to the people writing their news, if they have a pertinent question or comment, they’ll email. At the end of the day what you build for yourself online depends on the audience you’re looking to reach. Don’t over exert yourself if your audience is 40 and up and they aren’t even online!
– Chelsea Downey