I’ve written two fairly exhaustive (and exhausting) posts about the post-earthquake, post-tsunami status of nuclear power facilities in Japan. FYI, I spent a period of my career as a technical/agriculture/science writer.
Note: This is part of a series of posts I’ll file in the lead-up to my talk on conversational journalism at the South by Southwest Interactive festival March 15 in Austin. Hope to see you there.
Intriguing story about blogger Nate Silver’s adjustment to working at The New York Times. He became the election stats wunderkind known ‘round the world during the last presidential runoff, and the newspaper smartly snatched him up, along with his popular blog, Five Thirty Eight.
Going from private blogger to writer for the Old Gray Lady took adjustment. I’m especially interested in his mandate to maintain his blogger voice while erasing opinion, such as parenthetical asides.
My research on conversational journalism turned up a half dozen key features (variables) that audiences pick up on. Traditional just-the-facts-ma’am reportage still has its place. In fact, all of my research shows online audiences still find straight facts-based journalism quite credible, the popularity of Fox-style opinionated news aside.
But the new darling of news models appears to be highly collaborative news between professional journalists and ordinary citizens, or journalism as a conversation. The Internet makes it super easy. And a key feature of conversation is perceived similarity with the journalist (the mega variable coorientation/homophily).
Similarity is the single most powerful determinant of the audience perceiving news as credible, expert and just plain likeable. But how the hell do you cue or convey your potential similarity to audience members? You might start by sharing information about yourself and your craft — nothing too personal but just enough to give people a sense of who you are as a person.