After President Obama’s repeat performance at this year’s White House Correspondent’s Dinner, one might ask about the relevance of digital correspondent’s in an age where more people get their news from their computer than a printed paper in their driveway.
And, that’s just what Mashable did today. They reported on a recent survey by CareerCast putting newspaper reporters at the top of their list for WORST jobs in America. Does the downturn for newspaper reporters mean there are great opportunities for bloggers and other types of digital correspondents?
Digital correspondents: the downside
Digital correspondents face some of the same stresses that make newspaper reporting a bad job. First, time pressures, writer’s block, and deadlines. And, digital correspondents who don’t work for a big media outlet, like TechCrunch or Mashable, have to search for stories to fill their pages, in additional to publishing frequently.
As a digital correspondent you’ll also need a thick skin. Unlike your newspaper counterparts, users can freely comment on all the failures, discrepancies, and differences of opinion in your posts. And, their comments are right below your copy for everyone to see.
Get ready to have your hard work scooped by others. Digital correspondents produce copy in a form easily stolen by the unscrupulous. Every post I create is stolen at least once and some by multiple copycats.
And, digital correspondents need to know a whole lot more than newspaper correspondents, who simply upload their stories to their editors for publication. Digital correspondents need to understand SEO (search engine optimization) and have a little technical expertise. In smaller agencies and if you’re a blogger, you also need to understand digital design, linking, know where to get legal images or create them using graphic design, and how to share your content. These skills put you in high demand and give you skills that apply to other types of digital endeavors.
Digital correspondents also don’t get much respect. While some groups understand the role digital media plays in getting their message out, many still prefer to limit their press conferences and press credentials to traditional correspondents working for established media outlets. A major exception was when NASA invited 1000’s of bloggers to watch the liftoff of a space shuttle mission.
Digital correspondents: the upside
Of course, there’s an upside to being a digital correspondent. Writing a blog, either for yourself or a digital media outlet, gives you a platform and an audience for your opinions. For me, it’s the freedom to say things I believe about marketing and social media without having to go through the review process common in academic journals that sucks any creativity, innovation, or insight out of your work.
If you create a popular blog, of course, you can make a little money from it, either through advertising or as a speaker or coach. Popular blogs also attract guest bloggers who can help shoulder the burden of creating content on a consistent basis.
For me, possibly the biggest benefit of being a digital correspondent is being able to help businesses succeed. I get a real kick out of someone telling me they were able to do something better based on my posts.
And, finally, blogging helps you stay on the forefront of your area. You’re forced to read a lot … network a lot … and think about your chosen area a lot. This keeps your game sharp.