After doing both blogs for about five months, and writing for Bleacher Report for now eight months, I feel that "Developing a Successful Journalistic Blog" has good intentions for being a useful tool for bloggers, but does not follow through.
The NewsU module has the idea to give bloggers the groundwork for starting a successful blog in whatever beat area they have. The entire time I was reading it, I was using sports as an example because that's what my beat was for the blog I started. I found that the ideas of searching Twitter and Facebook, Google searching, using RSS feeds to get information would be a waste of time. Someone could get the same kind of information just watching ESPN and going to ESPN.com, or if the beat is politics, looking at NBC, CBS, Fox, and CNN and their websites, rather than scouring the internet for information.
Also, the module itself was entirely too text-based. Had this not been assigned for homework, I probably would have quit reading the module halfway through the introduction. Blogs are encouraged to be multimedia websites, with plenty of hyperlinks, photos, videos, and audio to complement stories. I found the NewsU module to very rarely use photos, with no audio and no video. But, they did have plenty of hyperlinks, but that does not solve the problem of being too text heavy.
However, I did find the ideas of how to gain readers very useful. One of the hardest part of The Playoff Beard or Sideline News is that it was an amateur blog. Even posting the articles on Facebook or on Twitter only saw maybe 10 to 15 readers on a good day. By finding a place where all of your niche readers are, you will greatly increase the interest of your article, and thus have many more people read your blog, and potentially grab reoccurring readers. That is something I had been told before starting my blog.
Another thing that I found interesting about this module was that it called for bloggers to essentially treat their blog like a newspaper. NewsU encourages bloggers to plan ahead and think of what you will write for the next week. They call for writers to post articles maybe two to three times a day, with a major headline story coming out daily. I personally thought a good week would be posting two articles a week. I would never plan ahead, I would think of article ideas, and if a good one struck me, I would write it that day and then post it.
Ultimately, I believe that "Developing a Successful Journalistic Blog" has some redeeming qualities. It gives the basis for what bloggers should be striving for if they truly want a successful blog that has the reputation of an actual publication. But, as the conclusion says, nothing is better than actual experience, and I completely agree. I feel I am a better blog not because I took this course, but because I was able to find my voice, see what works and what doesn't work, and what I like writing about, all by actually writing stories. I would encourage new bloggers to take this course if they want, but definitely start a blog and never look back.