Friday, October 01, 2010

Notes from a journalist turned blogger

Writers who are journalists turned bloggers have to take on some special issues… if you’re one you’ll know what I’m talking about. And if you’ve been on the desk for a while the situation is even weirder. The thing is while at the desk you carefully cultivate a writing etiquette and slowly it becomes a reflex deeply rooted in your brain.. while blogging it’s just a pain in all the wrong places.

Compulsive obsessive word count disorder
Yes this is the first one.. the urge to check word count every few words.(92) I still have the itch to do it (100).... and I have to continuously remind myself.. this is not a newspaper.. this is MY blog and I can fill it up with thousands of words of whatever I like.

Cap it
THEN there’s the thing about ‘first word in all caps’. Don’t ask how many times I’ve had to go back to a post and remove that ‘all capitals’ from the first word. Oh and there are so many other style elements… go away all of you… I’m a free woman …I’m a blogger for godsake!

Break it up
That’s what the editor told us.. if your piece is too long break it up.. and so the fixation with subheads. I simply can’t get away from the image of a reader frowning in distaste at a long page of unbroken prose. Being an avid reader of novels I lurve unending pages of prose.. but then reading and writing seem to be locked in two different zones of my brain.

Picture this
No article, features article specially, is ever complete without a picture. Don’t ask how many long hours I’ve spent surfing in-house photo libraries, Google images and a host of other sites looking for the perfect picture. For the blog of course it doesn’t matter. Yet if I don’t have one in my camera, I still fall back on Google images. Without a picture the piece seems so… incomplete. (BTW if you Google ‘journalist’ you just get images of the electronic-media.. had to search under ‘writer’ to get this one.)

And last of all.. the dreaded Media Net
If you’ve worked for a paper, specially the leader of them all, you know immediately what this is.. the bane of our existence at the desk. God forbid you mention a brand.. any brand in your write up.. or you let it slip past your editing .. you get a congratulatory call all the way from Delhi. “Why did you ‘promote’ that brand?” You write about a restaurant you can’t mention the name.. you can write about a disc.. but no name… you write about shops, resorts, watches and jewellery but.. no mentioning names without permission. Oh it takes plenty of practice and hours and hours of dressing downs (putting it mildly) to get it right. And finally when I did get it right, I quit.
On my blog.. Gawd I so love the freedom of it all.. not only can you name the brands you can even provide links to them.. Yay. Yet each time I do it… I get a guilty twinge.. a pang of conscience, part of which is still behind my work desk at FC Road.


  1. Interesting piece. I have had to edit work of experienced journalists trying to explain that I am not teaching them how to their job, but that blogging is a subtly different art

  2. Ahh the freedom can get heady. But some of the bloggers get carried away and use cuss words liberally.

    Apparently that's their ishtyle.

    And I personally hate reading long sentences. Please don't give that up!

    Interesting write up :)

  3. Nice...actually every publication has its own style sheet, target audience and word limit. For instance in my magazine I enjoy the freedom of being illustrative and indulge in luxury of writing long sentences. However, for a fashion magazine appealing to a young 20+reader, this style will be a strict no no. The mood would be more hep, trendy and easy.
    Blogs are a refreshing change where you have no editor breathing down your neck. You can write from your heart and there's no word limit. should get back to print...high time!

  4. @NRI.. You're right.. Blogging is different and sooo much fun.

    @Purba.. Bad words are SUCH a turn off -- verbal or written. I like short sentences too.. will stick with them.

    @Manish..Blogs are about writing from the heart.. as for getting back uummmm another two years at least:-)

    @James.. Thanks but when will you stop calling me TC? Remember newspaper terminology no longer applies to me.

  5. Good one... and why are you forgetting the term think in english and write in english.. do not think in your mother tounge and than try and translate it.... I still remember Keshav Pandey Gwalior copies only Nasir Bhai could make head and tail of it... Good work...and media net how can i forget it... in my working contract i have one full page on it... but it is good that you know the dos and donts and they put it in black and white...

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. I enjoyed this piece. I completely agree that short sentences are more power-packed. Specially when it comes to blogs I feel a long post is easier to forget and harder to get into.
    However, I feel good writing is much more than just correct writing. It should touch you in some way.
    As for your point about Media Net. I have always found it funny editing articles where everything is anonymous. It has allowed writers to get away with fake quotes. At least it did them some good :P

  8. Quite an interesting post, and I am sure you must be counting every word of this comment too! And thank you, your post gave me an idea too, my post could be on a management grad turned blogger! ;)

  9. Apoorva: You brought back old memories.. shudder to think of those copies
    Moni: Those were fun times
    Sourav: Lolz..Waiting for your post.

  10. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

  11. Hey, I attempted to email you pertaining to this post but aren?t able to reach you. Please e-mail me when get a moment. Thanks.

  12. Reveal yourself first Anonymous... :-)


Glad to have you here. It's your turn to share your thoughts...


Related Posts with Thumbnails