Monday, September 12, 2011

Local blog tips from SFist and CurbedSF

Local online journalism is as much about fingers on the keys as it is boots on the ground, according to editorial staff from a pair of respected blogs focusing on local news and features in San Francisco.

Sally Kuchar, editor at, and Andrew Dalton, associate editor of, addressed students in a journalism seminar at San Francisco State on Wednesday and pointed out that a lot of the work needed to put together a good local blog is perusing other websites that cover the same issues.

For example, Kuchar said she checks a syndicated Google Reader feed hourly and spends a lot of time perusing local blogs and online photo collections, such as those on Flickr. Tips through the website itself are also important. Of course, if one does use something from another site, they must be sure to cite their sources — even if that source was just used as “inspiration.”

Dalton noted that one important thing a local blog needs to do is interact. For example, the SFist staff does not simply put headlines up on SFist’s Twitter feed, it actively interacts with its readers. The hope is that readers will feel that there are real people behind the posts, not just robots.

Tips learned:
1. Don’t be afraid to read the competition;
2. Expand beyond the traditional web feeds, check Flickr and the like;
3. Cite your sources;
4. Interact!;
5. Don’t be afraid to post frequently, just keep the quality high.

Finally, although quality is of extreme importance, much as it is in traditional journalism, local sites shouldn’t be afraid to use a bit of quantity in their social media feeds, according to both editors. With readers checking going onto the Internet at different, non-consistent times of day, they might miss an article posted at an earlier time. Local news sites should feel secure that occasionally reposting the same story link might find it a new audience at a later time.

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