Blog or bog off

In the past few days I have worked from my Macbook using mobile internet connections from:

  • The top and bottom decks of double decker buses
  • standing up on a London commuter train
  • Seated on a Virgin train
  • On the overground section on a London tube
  • In a Starbucks and a Pret
  • Standing on Oxenholme and Lewisham stations

I have used a mix of my Vodafone dongle and my BT Openworld account. And that is in addition to several other people’s home wireless broadband networks.

This flexibility has enabled me to mix a variety of work meetings, my early morning Insurance Times web news writing and my AOL Daily Finance blogging contract. And it meant I could mix my Christmas, birthday and New Year travels and celebrations.

Others’ inability

The problem has been that much of my work has been tackling other people’s inability to handle the content management system (CMS) Blogsmith. This is AOL’s own blogging CMS. It is a bit clunky but the problems stem from people having never used a CMS at all.

We won’t be taking on any more freelances who cannot already use a CMS. That is a radical change. When I first started teaching writing for the web, people asked how to make money from it. I had a hollow answer along the lines of not being able to without training when the opportunity arose.

But now it is true. More than half my income comes exclusively from writing and editing for the web. That element alone is more than I was paid to edit Insurance Times. Freelances who want a share in that lucrative market will have to learn how to use the systems available and write to style.

NUJ out of date?

I noted in my report on the National Union of Journalists’ (NUJ) annual delegate meeting (ADM) work experience project for students that many NUJ members still snigger at the mention of blogging, Facebook and Twitter.

Thankfully the NUJ is not run by those fools. But they do exert a significant and malign influence. That has to be countered. Online is where the future lies, even for print-based journalists.

If you can’t blog including some html coding, understanding disability issues and editing and inputting photos and video, you’ve had it. If you don’t like that message, or you laugh at it, I’d recommend you quit journalism now. You don’t have a future.

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