“The tool is not the thing; one can use a hammer to build a church or a brothel.”
In the article, Britten details the steps he takes to get students blogging like journalists, but I think the most important is this: Write regularly on a focused subject.
Students in my Introduction to Journalism and Public Relations class are working on their final projects right now: produce either a journalistic or PR blog. The PR students are restricted to choosingone on-campus organization to “work for,” promoting its events and goals of driving up membership, participants, funds or whatever.
For journalism students, the task is more daunting but (I think) a lot more fun. Students are to select a “beat” on which they will report and write, which could encompass any number of organizations and events.
While many of the posts are formatted like shorter versions of news articles (with a quote, a lede and a kicker), I encourage them to go beyond traditional borders to include information that either embraces multimedia techniques (such as videos or photo slide shows to illustrate a story) or interactive techniques that engage their audience by proposing questions or posting polls.
Students in my Communicating on the Web class are granted extra credit for getting 25 or more followers by the end of the semester. They think they are cheating by posting requests for followers on their Facebook pages or asking friends or family to “like” the blog.
But I ask you, how did you come across this post?