As a budding journalist and blogger, I think there’s an immense value in following the work of others in the field…especially when what they have to offer to the blogosphere is, put simply: pretty awesome.
Below I evaluate three blogs that provide me with inspiration. These blogs cover the topics I cover: the environment, business and running!
1. Mother Jones: Blue Marble (environment)
The biggest strength of Blue Marble is its aspect of immediacy; stories are published quickly, regularly and, largely, as things are actually happening. Blue Marble also provides its readers with some nice analysis. When I read the stories on this blog, I am reminded about what good journalism is all about: maintaining proper balance when reporting, making use of tasteful journalistic ethics and ensuring readers get the whole story.
Blue Marble purports itself as an investigative and breaking news source. I think it’s deserving of such a title; it’s certainly errs on the journalistic side of blogging. For instance, the moment the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill approving the hotly-debated Keystone XL Pipeline extension, Mother Jones published a post on the bill (and subsequently sent out the post via social media).
Blue Marble shines brighter than many other “newsy” blogs in that it helps foster a sense of community amongst its readers. Posts include many links, and the blog itself provides readers the opportunity to share posts on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Readers are also encouraged to post comments.
2. The Consumerist (business)
The Consumerist is cool. It’s layout is slick, and presents stories in horizontally-oriented rows of posts as opposed to the traditional 1×1 vertical blog post format. It’s red and black. Again, very cool.
Like Blue Marble, The Consumerist blog is noteworthy particularly due to the immediacy of its posts. Posts seem timely and relevant (i.e. posting about a new snowblower app on the day of the “2015 Blizzard” that hit the N.Y.-Metro area in late January). Also like Blue Marble, The Consumerist’s posts offer readers a nice analysis of stories, ensuring that they are well-covered from all sides.
The blog publishes news, tips and information focused on consumers’ experiences and issues with companies and corporations. Stories tell readers how a story may impact them and why they should care.
The Consumerists’ stories include a nice smattering of links (though I think they could include more). The Consumerist blog is truly interactive, as it provides readers the opportunity to share its blog posts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Reddit, Stumble Upon, GetPocket.com, Pinterist and Twitter as well as sharing via email. Readers also have the opportunity to post comments on The Consumerist’s blog posts, and the opportunity to send email tips to The Consumerist (which the writers sometimes use as content for their website). Readers can quite literally “make” their own news.
3. Hungry Runner Girl (running)
Janae Jacobs’ Hungry Runner Girl blog is one of the most popular blogs out there today on running, fitness, nutrition and life. Her blog owes its success primarily due to Janae’s voice. So many people find her relatable. A newly-single mother and lover of running who has struggled with eating disorders, running injuries, pregnancy and family issues, Janae speaks openly and from her heart. She includes a generous number of photos in each post–of her, her food, her baby, her travels…. Through her writing and photos, readers get a truly intimate peek into her life.
Janae keeps her blog fresh and relevant for her readers by posting news, tips and information on running and living life. She invites users to follow her on other social media (Facebook and Twitter). Janae concludes each blog post by asking her readers several questions. For instance, in a February 4 post on a recent injury and her “four favorite things,” Janae asks readers:
“What sports bra is your current favorite? Are you a gum person? Favorite flavor/brand? What are your ‘secret weapons’ to staying injury free? What was your lunch today?”
Janae’s questions are super-simple, yet they work well in enticing her readers to comment on her posts. Janae truly cares about her readers and responds directly to their comments, which I think is a really great way of interacting with readers. She is very responsive, when I emailed her with a question a few years ago, she responded right away–which hooked me as a dedicated reader!