See Jane Write in Birmingham

See Jane Write in Birmingham

Well, I don’t even know where to start. I reckon at the beginning is a good place.

Last night, I attended an event in Birmingham that was organized by See Jane Write (Birmingham). The event was titled, “Blogging and the Future of Community Journalism.” Yes, I drove down and back to Birmingham last night just for this event. It was worth it, let me tell you!

The panelists for this event were as follows:

  • Andre Natta – Andre is a freelance writer, community journalist, urban conversationalist and all sorts of other goodness. Endearingly, he’s been dubbed as The Station Master for he is the force behind The Terminal, Birmingham’s Hub. If you’d like to get to know Andre a little more intimately, however, you can find him on his personal blog at Dre’s Ramblings.
  • Erin Shaw Street – Travel editor for Southern Living and recently launched The Daily South. Erin also owns a personal blog called The Gold Shoe Blog.
  • Staci Brown Brooks – is the Birmingham Community News Hub Director for Alabama Media Group. While she is the Community News Director, you can also find her actively involved in reporting and writing and blogging on the AL.COM site too.
  • Emily Lowrey – She was touted, last night, as Birmingham’s biggest cheerleader. Her blog is The Magic City Post and it covers a variety of topics. The sections are broken down into Real Estate, Community, Calendar, Food, Entrepreneur, Buy Local, Contests, and Style.
The Panelists!

The moderator of the event was none other than Edward T. Bowser. He is a Community Engagement Specialist with the Birmingham hub of Alabama Media Group. He was perfect as moderator and kept all of the rest of us under control. Also, Edward just so happens to be married to the Founder of See Jane Write, Javacia Bowser, who also writes at The Writeous Babe.

I ended up with two and a half pages of notes. So what did I take away from last night’s event? Well, for one, I took home an excitement to have been associated with such kindred spirits. My confidence level went up a notch or two in finding validation that I am doing it right, or that it is okay to be a blogger, and that people are taking this seriously. I was inspired, too, to see people succeeding at this, and have been succeeding in it for a while now.

The changes in community journalism are happening rapidly and probably will continue to do so for quite some time. Being at the See Jane Write event last night gave me a sense of urgency to hurry up and focus, define what it is I want my blog to be or what I want to do. Do I want to just remain a personal blogger or do I want this blog to be more about something bigger than myself. The answer for me, right now, is somewhere in between. I know, that sounds like the easy way out, doesn’t it?

For years now, and I do mean many years, I’ve dabbled with blogging and community journalism. I’ll stick my big toe in and test the waters and then pull back out for a little while. I’ll start over with new blogs and I’ve never been able to find my point of view with blogging or community journalism.

But last night it was so easily defined for me the difference between Bloggers and Journalists:

Journalists will link to a source, quote from a source, and just report the facts. They follow a certain code of ethics. They are (or should be) transparent and objective.

Bloggers tend to lean more towards opinion-based writing and wish to engage in a conversation.

But let me break it down even more. In the end, and this is just me, but the ultimate lesson learned last night was that there are two types of bloggers. There is the personal blogger who enjoys writing his/her opinion on whatever topic. Personal bloggers wish to have a conversation with others, pulling people in for participation. Then there are the community bloggers/journalists who keep to a certain code of ethics and report like a Journalist but will have that personal voice too. The community blogger/journalist will more than likely be super focused on one area of the community.

So what type of blogger do I want to be? Both of course! So yes, I have some searching to do to figure out what sort of future I want for my blog. If I can produce three categories and go from there I think that can be a start. I am a writer and therefore I do like to write my opinion pieces so this will be one topic. I’m not that good of a reporter. I’d rather have my voice in the mix so being a community blogger probably will not be the path I go down right now.

But I love to blog and I love to write. In fact, I’m in the midst of furiously writing a novel. I have certain goals and deadlines that, thankfully, I am adhering to and meeting on a regular basis. I will more than likely blog about writing. I am not an expert on writing, I can only share my personal experience with writing. So there, I have two topics already. That’s a start. I’ll just keep on keepin’ on with what I am doing.

Now, having said all of that, I have done the occasional community journalism blogging where the panelists explained it as reporting and being transparent and linking/quoting sources. I found it to be challenging and more like a real job – and that was a good thing, I felt accomplished whenever I finished a blogging piece. In addition to feeling like a real job it also felt strangely confining because all the while, I did want to throw in my opinion. However, upon further reflection, perhaps I can use this as a way to practice and challenge myself as a community blogger (journalist). It scares me, though, quite frankly because what if I get it wrong?!

If you’d like to go back and read the Twitter feed for our hashtag of the See Jane Write event, the hashgtag is #SJWBHAM

And I’ll leave you with some of the quotes I collected from the See Jane Write panel discussion.

“Bloggers, define yourself. Adopt journalism principles.” – Staci Brown Brooks

“Learn how to have that strategic agility.” – Erin Shaw Street

“If someone else has told the story better, you have to link to them, or point your readers over to their article.” – Andre Natta

In the end, I had a lovely time and hope to attend more events like this in the future. In fact, I’d like to make the same sort of effort to organize informative and education discussions for our local Rocket City Bloggers group.

Thanks for reading,

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Written by

A middle-aged, petite, CrossFit athlete. #MoxieFit50

  • T.K. Thorne says:

    Thanks so much for this helpful recap, Carol! I’m sorry I didn’t get to speak with you with all the chaos and excitement. Well done.

    • cam says:

      Thank you T.K. Yes, I saw you come in and wanted to say hello but I was also afraid I would never find my way out of B’ham. I thought for sure I’d be driving around B’ham for HOURS trying to find I-65 but it turned out that I found it with no problems at all.

  • Marie Sutton says:

    Very well said. Thanks so much. And, I love your writing voice. I look forward to reading more posts.

  • See Jane Write, B’ham | Girl Gad About says:

    […] Note: Cross posted at Carol Ann Marks. This event in B'ham has inspired me to fire this blog back up […]

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