To Be a Good Entrepreneurship Reporter, Don't Be an Entrepreneur

So here’s the rule of thumb for entrepreneurship and business reporters out there: Don’t be the person you want to interview and write about. In other words, don’t be an entrepreneur or business person. This piece of advice sounds a little bit counter-intuitive as I thought it’d be much easier to understand the subject matters by being in their shoes, seeing things the way these people do so I can write better about them and their companies.

It turns out I’m wrong…

Reporters need to stay away from being an entrepreneur themselves. They can’t be a top-notch reporter and a great entrepreneur at the very same time. They have to relinquish one of the two.

That’s probably the gist of Sarah Lacy’s statements. The founder of media company Pando.com was asked whether being an entrepreneur herself changed her way of writing as a tech reporter. As we all know, Lacy has worked for almost 15 years writing about the tech industry, the people and the whole dynamics in it. She answered it bluntly,”I’m a way worse reporter now…”

Asking hard questions to other entrepreneurs as an entrepreneur cum reporter is relatively easy, claimed Lacy. Yet, she stated that what bothered her to do her best job she always wanted is the OVEREMPATHY on the answers. “So particularly when it comes to things I’ve gone through…like having the ousted board member (she might be reminded of Mike Arrington ousted from TechCrunch or?) or even like a cash crunch or hiring a sales guy that didn’t work out[…]”

She further said she didn’t write as much as she used to and she felt for these pitiful entrepreneurs. “Because I see every side to it and I feel for them,”explained the mother of two.

Thank God, I’m not an entrepreneur because if I have to be one, I would certainly lose my best job ever. And I would never trade being a writer to any job on earth. This is very much the best. At least for now.

The Roadmap to Writing Like an Expert

Anyone can write. Your 4-year-old child can write simple sentences on the wall of his bedroom. Your nephew writes an essay on how more civilized and developed this country can be without Trans TV airing Raffi Ahmad’s live update of the wedding ceremony. Your teenage neighbor writes rants on Twitter every minute of his waking hours. And your 76-year-old grand father writes replies to your BBM messages on his smartphone.

Not everyone, however, writes and gets the acknowledgment as an expert and gets paid with a hefty sum of money.

Jason Calacanis – an Internet entrepreneur cum blogger – spills his tricks on how to approach writing and blogging so people will know you as an expert. Here’s the roadmap.

Pick a subject you’re most passionate about.

Spend one hour a day writing about it on a blog called “your first name + the topic” or “the topic + your first name”. For instance, “yoga akhlis” (or “yogakhlis”, like I’ve invented in my Instagram hashtag for my yoga photos). So I have to write about yoga every day for an hour (or more, if I want to speed up the process).

And then write about other people writing about it. This makes you more connected and relevant to the world, or at the very least to people around you.

Don’t forget to link to these people whose writing you praise, criticize or review. Let them know you have your own opinions on their thoughts. Of course, you may add or negate or improve what s/he wrote. Be yourself when you write.

After that, write comments around the web as the name of your blog (in my case, it is yogakhlis). And then after you have a year of your work, you may bring that to people who want to write about that certain topic (in my case, it’s yoga), and you’ll be likely to get more access. Because you have brain and have more knowledge on the subject like an expert (but by this point, definitely you’ve become one, if you really really write it on your own, not paraphrasing or quoting others’ thoughts only).

Now, you’re likely to get into writing and get a writing job because you manage to differentiate yourself from everybody else!

Calacanis added,”If you’re really good at what you do, they cannot stop you!” If you have performance with so refined skills after years of practicing and mean into it, you’re bound to be successful.

In journalism, said Calacanis, some people write so well and they practice it over and over again and they write some long-form pieces. You should keep on writing, regardless of anything. Only you can stop yourself, he firmly stated.

{source: A Fireside Chat by Sarah Lacy with Jason Calacanis /image credit: YouTube screenshot }

Building a Blog as a Business

‎If you were not like most blog readers, you’d find comments below a post a lot more engaging than content of it. It’s not because content in discussion is boring or a cliche, but more because it manages to spark a (luke)warm exchange of ideas amongst readers who decide to leave comments.

I saw a male commenter trying to make sense‎ the whole thing, as to why a blog needs investors. He argues,”It’s just a blogging software, pay for some hosting and call it a day, right?” He doesn’t seem to take staff’s salaries and other aspects into account, which he should have.

But he got it all wrong. Blogs can be an entity of serious business if founders or bloggers wish to operate it like a REAL business instead of a small home-based business. It’s obviously not one of those diary blogs where you can read daily rants of a blogger who may be using the f word at his or her disposal.

Setting up a blog is ‎one thing and maintaining it is another. Even if your blog has reached millions of visitors, things are not that easy for most bloggers who expect to earn a living by making profits of his blogs.

‎But a blog alone won’t make bloggers or writers go too far these days. You cannot just sit and post writeups on a daily basis and hope business is going better on is own. You need to figure out the best ways to build products around the blogs. Something you can sell, a business model that makes money and solve problems at the same time.

That explains why ‎writers and bloggers publish ebooks, produce paid webinars, podcasts, and provide consulting service as well.

And that’s what separates blogs as a medium of rants and a serious business entity. Pretty much…

Not Everyone Must Be a Blogger

matt mNot everyone should be a blogger, says WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg. Simply because not everyone has the passion to share things online. “Not everyone’s a creator,”claims he.

But maybe everyone’s a creator, Matt. But not everyone has the passion of sharing.

That reminds me of a friend who happens to like sharing long long updates on Path. She rants a lot once in a while on stuff she cares so much about like parenting but she tends to refuse the idea of blogging because she assumes it’s not what she really is. In many ways, the blogging thing is something  she thinks way too time and intellectual labor intensive. Yet, she can afford the hassle of writing such long updates on Path, which makes me confused. It turns out she doesn’t think sharing ideas to the rest of the world without limit is her thing. That’s something I could never understand. Why writing for only yourself or a limited number of people when you know what you share is useful to not only your inner circle but also everyone who shares the same shoes with you?

Blogging should be done with passion as it’d be tiresome for many without passion to write up like every single day. And this is not everyone can and wants to do. Writing every day is a grind and writing every day to get significant audience is another challenge to conquer.

There’re bloggers who shift path to microblogging like Twitter simply because it’s more succinct and instant a a tool of interaction. The Great Robert Scobble would be one of the examples. In Indonesia, we’ve got Nukman Luthfie, who happened to be an early adopter of blogging and online journalism in the country but as Twitter emerged as a new channel of communication, Nukman spends more time to tweet than blog. It’s all about passion once again. And not all bloggers are all that consistent when it comes to writing consistently. Of course they still write but not in the long form as often as they did before. Instant gratification? I bet.

Blogging may be adopted and then abandoned or vice versa but no one can ddeny that blogging is constant in the way that it serves as our digital home. You can have as many social media accounts as you want but all those lead you to one single place: your site or blog.

Jurnalisme Emosional

‎Era media baru yang ditandai dengan inovasi-inovasi teknologi yang memudahkan siapa saja membuat publikasi mereka sendiri (via blog, self publishing, dll) membuat norma-norma jurnalisme konvensional mau tidak mau, cepat atau lambat harus bergeser. Terjadi friksi, tumpang tindih, perselisihan di antara para wartawan dan blogger (narablog) yang saling mengklaim bahwa kelompok atau aliran atau medianya adalah yang paling baik. Fenomena ini sungguh menarik untuk diamati bila Anda adalah pewarta atau peminat jurnalisme media baru dan blogging.

Dalam pengamatan saya, ‎sekarang ini muncul sebuah aliran baru dalam jurnalisme:jurnalisme emosional. Para pelopornya adalah pendiri blog TechCrunch.com Michael Arrington, pendiri blog Pando.com Sarah Lacy, dan Kara Swisher yang mendirikan Recode.net. Mereka inilah orang yang membuat terobosan dengan memanfaatkan kanal penerbitan digital semacam blog dan jejaring sosial sebagai pengganti. Mereka membuat dunia jurnalisme menjadi lebih segar, tidak melulu menampilkan onggokan hasil wawancara, fakta dan data. Jurnalis-jurnalis kampiun media baru ini juga memiliki kepribadian (personality) dalam menyampaikan isi kepala mereka mengenai sebuah isu.

Beda yang pertama dan utama aliran jurnalisme emosional ini ialah mereka tidak segan menggunakan kata “I” (saya) dalam berbagai tulisan. Ego mereka memang besar dan mereka tidak menggunakan bahasa yang formal dan kaku bak pewarta media lama yang kerap menghiasi halaman surat kabar. Gaya menulis mereka sangat berkebalikan dengan gaya menulis wartawan di situs-situs berita mapan seperti BBC.co.uk dan VOANEWS.

Karena besarnya ego itulah, jurnalis-blogger di sini diperkenankan (baca : sangat didesak) untuk‎ menunjukkan kepribadian mereka secara blak-blakan. Arrington dan Lacy, misalnya, tidak malu menulis dengan nada memojokkan atau menggunakan kata kasar semacam “f*ck”. Swisher juga terlihat sangat liberal dengan penggunaan kata-katanya di berbagai kesempatan publik meski di tulisannya agak lebih terkendali. Emosi yang menjadi bagian dari watak manusia justru harus dipertontonkan di jurnalisme emosional dan media baru. Padahal di jurnalisme kolot, emosi sebisa mungkin dihindari agar tidak mencemari fakta yang disajikan pada pembaca. Jurnalis adalah mesin penyaji fakta dan peristiwa, tidak dianggap memiliki kepribadian atau sikap atau emosi yang manusiawi. Dalam jurnalisme emosional, justru kepribadian dan emosi harus dieksploitasi karena inilah komoditi.

Kecepatan juga menjadi prioritas di jurnalisme emosional. Sarah Lacy sendiri mengkritik bahwa dunia jurnalisme teknologi akhir-akhir ini menjadi semacam perlombaan bagi jurnalis-jurnalis agar bisa menghasilkan konten baru tentang pernyataan pers yang sama “lebih cepat dua detik” daripada para pesaingnya. Agar jurnalisme tidak semata-mata menjadi lomba kecepatan “salin tempel” (copy paste), ia menyarankan untuk menulis ulang pernyataan pers yang dikirimkan oleh startup atau berita apapun yang sudah ada agar konten yang disajikan lebih segar dan memiliki nilai tambah. Saya amati sendiri metode penulisan di Pando.com yang ia bawahi cukup menarik, karena kontennya lebih kaya referensi dari berbagai sumber. Banyak hyperlink menuju ke laman-laman lain yang bisa memperluas pandangan dan wawasan sehingga bias dalam penyampaian bisa ditekan.

‎Hal lain yang turut membedakan jurnalisme emosional ialah minimnya intervensi tim editorial. Di Techcrunch misalnya, menurut Eric Eldon (mantan editor Techcrunch) sebagaimana dikutip laman Poynter.org di artikel “Techcrunch’s Alexia Tsotsis‎: ‘I Like the Emotional Part of the News’, blog itu tidak memiliki proses ulasan editorial yang formal seperti halnya di media lainnya. Tetapi inilah yang membuat Techcrunch sanggup bertengger di peringkat teratas Techmeme Leaderboard. Artikel-artikel blogger mereka kerap mendapat kecaman, sindiran, olok-olok, karena dianggap bukan pekerjaan jurnalistik yang sesuai pakem. Namun demikian, mereka malah makin berjaya. Salah satunya menurut saya adalah karena blogger-blogger di Techcrunch menulis dengan gaya pribadi mereka sendiri. Dan mereka diberikan ruang yang hampir tanpa batas untuk itu. Begitu bebasnya ruang itu, sampai Tsotsis sendiri mengaku pernah menulis dan mempublikasikan artikel dalam kondisi mabuk setelah minum anggur. “Fuckers I am so sick of reporting on incremental tech news for fucking two years now, so sick I’m pretty much considering reverting full-time to fashion coverage,”tulis Tsotsis yang mabuk di sebuah malam Minggu di Techcrunch. Tulisannya langsung menuai kritik dan kecaman pedas.

Sarah Lacy yang juga pernah bekerja di Techcrunch menyoroti lemahnya pengawasan editorial di media baru seperti Techcrunch dan menerapkan penyempurnaan ‎itu di Pando. Penyuntingan naskah (copy editing) ia anggap sebagai bagian integral penerbitan sebuah artikel hingga pantas dibaca khalayak. Lacy mengatakan sendiri misinya adalah menggabungkan sisi posisif media lama dan media baru. Dan tampaknya ia belajar banyak dari kebebasan yang terlalu tinggi di Techcrunch.

Semua plus minus itulah yang membuat jurnalisme emosional ini menjadi begitu seksi, menantang persis seperti Alexia yang dulunya berprofesi sebagai model. Karena mereka mendobrak aturan formal yang sudah ada, dan makin dicerca, mereka makin disuka juga. Berita yang mereka sampaikan seolah menjadi lebih manusiawi dan tidak mengada-ada. ‎Saya menduga ada kriteria khusus supaya seseorang bisa sukses di jurnalisme emosional seperti ini. Mereka adalah orang-orang yang bersedia menerima kecaman kejam tanpa henti dari troll virtual yang kapan saja bisa meninggalkan komentar pedas di kotak komentar.

Di Indonesia, sepengetahuan saya belum ada yang benar-benar bisa merealisasikan jurnalisme emosional ini. ‎Dibutuhkan orang-orang dengan keberanian seperti Ruhut Sitompul atau Farhat Abbas untuk memancing emosi pembaca tetapi tentu saja, dengan memiliki kepribadian yang unik dan penampilan yang lebih menarik dari keduanya.

{image credit: Alexia Tsotsis/ Business Insider}

Jika Menulis Jadi Otomatis (Tren Robot Penulis Berita)

Berhati-hatilah dengan impian dan harapan Anda. Begitu kata pepatah dari negeri China. Jika Anda bekerja sebagai pewarta, dan Anda pernah mengeluhkan betapa beratnya beban kerja Anda selama ini (misalnya karena harus turun ke lapangan, mengejar narasumber, menjalani piket/ shift malam dan dini hari yang membuat jam tidur kacau balau) dan ingin proses membuat berita menjadi semudah mengayunkan tongkat sihir dan mengucapkan mantra, selamat! Impian Anda sudah terwujud.

Beberapa waktu lalu saya pernah membaca sebuah artikel tentang bagaimana menulis buku yang praktis, yang ternyata dilakukan dengan bantuan software tertentu. Saya anggap ‘inovasi’ itu sungguh absurd. Jikalau memang teknologi semacam itu akan marak nantinya, tak serta merta ia bisa menjamin kualitas buku yang dihasilkan. Tetap saja harus ada campur tangan manusia dalam prosesnya. Otomatisasi tidak akan bisa seratus persen menggeser peran penulis dan segenap intelejensia, pengalaman, gagasan dan emosi mereka yang khas dan tiada duanya. Inilah yang tidak akan bisa dimiliki oleh buku-buku yang dihasilkan dengan mekanisme otomatis semacam itu, terka saya. Intinya, software itu tetap tidak bisa menggantikan peran para penulis buku fiksi dan non-fiksi.

Itu pula yang terpikir saat saya mengetahui dua media di Amerika Serikat mulai mengadopsi teknologi dalam proses penyusunan berita mereka dengan lebih inovatif. Los Angeles Times dan Associated Press dikabarkan telah menerapkan robo-journalism dalam proses produksi artikel berita mereka.

Sejak Maret 2014 media Los Angeles Times, yang menjadi pers lokal bagi kota Los Angeles yang dikenal sebagai kota yang kerap digoyang gempa bumi, menghadirkan inovasi berupa Quakebot, sebuah software karya Ken Schwencke yang selain bekerja sebagai jurnalis juga adalah seorang programmer andal. Konon hanya diperlukan waktu 3 menit untuk menyusun sebuah artikel berita gempa, yang relatif lengkap dan memenuhi syarat jurnalistik 5W (who, why, what, where, when) dan 1H (how).

Sementara itu, Associated Press sejak bulan Agustus 2014 telah menggunakan software penulis berita Wordsmith buatan startup Automated Insights yang bertugas merangkum berbagai laporan finansial korporasi. Dengan Wordsmith, tugas pewarta AP jauh lebih ringan. Bila dikerjakan manual, pastinya akan lebih memakan waktu dan energi. Dalam kasus AP, teknologi diperlukan untuk efisiensi kerja dan penyajian berita.

Bagaimana proses software Wordsmith mengolah berita hingga siap saji? Pertama, data mentah dijaring dari pelanggan, penyedia data pihak ketiga dan repositori publik seperti jejaring sosial. Banyak sekali format data yang bisa dijaring sehingga akurasi dan kelengkapannya relatif tinggi. Selanjutnya, dilakukan telaah data yang terkumpul dengan bantuan matriks canggih pendeteksi tren menarik dan menempatkannya dalam konteks sejarah. Kemudian data akan diidentifikasi dan dibandingkan dengan data lain yang sudah ada sebelumnya. Tahap berikutnya yaitu penyusunan struktur dan format laporan. Di sini, algoritma akan menyusun kalimat-kalimat untuk menghasilkan jenis format berita yang dikehendaki, misalnya narasi panjang, artikel pendek, visualisasi, tweet, berita dan sebagainya. Akhirnya, laporan tadi siap dipublikasikan secara real time via API, Twitter, email, laman web dan perangkat digital. Tugas editor hanya memberikan polesan akhir agar artikel tampak natural saat dibaca.

Kalau begitu mudah membuat berita sekarang, apakah para jurnalis tidak lagi dibutuhkan di masa datang? Editor pelaksana berita bisnis Associated Press Lou Ferrara tidak sepakat. Ia beropini bahwa robo-journalists ini justru memberikan banyak jurnalis manusia untuk melepaskan beban pemberitaaan yang simpel untuk lebih berfokus pada penyusunan berita-berita yang lebih mendalam. Argumen Ferrara menurut hemat saya memang cukup beralasan. Alih-alih membuat jurnalis kehilangan pekerjaan, inovasi robo-journalists justru harus dianggap sebagai pembebas dari rutinitas menulis berita yang membosankan dan itu-itu saja. Jurnalis tampaknya memang makin didesak untuk bisa berpikir dan menulis dengan sudut pandang yang khas dan pembahasan yang lebih analitis karena inilah yang tidak bisa dilakukan robot-robot itu!
Mengamini pernyataan Ferrara, Ken Schwencke dari LA Times juga menandaskan bahwa robo-journalists hanya melengkapi keberadaan human-journalists. Justru inovasi ini akan “membuat pekerjaan semua orang lebih menarik”, ujarnya.

CEO Automated Insights Robbie Allen juga memberikan pernyataan serupa, bahwa software buatannya bukan dirancang sebagai pengganti jurnalis manusia. Allen menambahkan kelebihan robo-journalists hanya ada pada ketepatan dan kecepatan pengolahan data. Sementara gaya bahasa, gaya penulisan dan sebagainya cuma bisa dihasilkan oleh human-journalists. Tugas robo-journalists jelas hanya menyajikan data agar lebih cepat dan layak baca. Titik.

Karena itu, jika Anda seorang pewarta yang setiap hari hanya bekerja untuk menyalin tempel artikel berita atau cuma menyadur tanpa membubuhkan kepribadian Anda di dalamnya, rasanya Anda harus siap-siap ditelan persaingan oleh robo-journalists ini.

Saya teringat dengan kata-kata jurnalis teknologi AS Kara Swisher, bahwa banyak jurnalis menyajikan berita dengan cara yang membosankan pembaca. Besar kemungkinan kemunculan robo-journalists akan memberangus jurnalis-jurnalis semacam ini, karena seberapapun cepat otak mereka bekerja dan jari jemari mereka mengetik, tetap saja tak akan bisa mengalahkan software-software seperti Wordsmith atau Quakebot. Maksudnya membosankan mungkin adalah penyajian yang mengikuti pola atau template tertentu, yang terus menerus berulang dan tak berubah. Alur cerita dalam berita juga relatif mudah ditebak. “Setelah itu, pasti membahas ini, ah basi,” begitu gumam pembaca. Tidak heran mereka juga bekerja seperti robot! Pastilah penyajiannya lebih kaku.

Dan satu poin yang menjadi perhatian bagi mereka yang mengaku jurnalis – bila mereka tak ingin tersingkir – adalah perhatian yang harusnya makin besar untuk membangun pemikiran sendiri dan tidak segan untuk menunjukkan kepribadiannya. Elemen kepribadian ini menjadi sorotan terutama jika Anda bekerja sebagai jurnalis online atau blogger. Tanpa kepribadian yang unik, karya-karya Anda akan kurang menarik minat pembaca. Bahkan jika kepribadian itu sangat sarkastis, atau emosional sekalipun, jangan ragu untuk menampilkannya dalam tulisan Anda. Karena kepribadian inilah yang sampai kiamat pun tidak akan bisa dimiliki oleh robo-journalists yang secanggih apapun. Contohnya, kata Swisher, adalah para jurnalis cum blogger teknologi di TechCrunch.com pasca keluarnya Michael Arrington, Sarah Lacy cs. Meski blogger-blogger TechCrunch itu kerap diremehkan dengan alasan memiliki bias atau sikap kurang objektif serta kurang piawai menggunakan prinsip jurnalisme dalam penulisan konten mereka, toh orang-orang itu sanggup menunjukkan kepribadian mereka yang menarik via jejaring sosial dan konten-konten yang mereka tampilkan. Tentu saja kata “menarik” di sini bersifat nisbi. Namun, yang patut digarisbawahi adalah bahwa kepribadian mereka menjadi salah satu faktor daya jual atau selling point yang turut mengungkit pamor konten berita yang disusun.

Jadi apakah masih ingin menjadi wartawan biasa-biasa saja? Itu terserah Anda. Namun alangkah baiknya bila mau berubah sebelum binasa.

Verbal Constipation

‎Writer’s, or in my case, blogger’s block sounds too hackneyed. I hence coined a novel terminology for this: verbal constipation.‎ Just to tell you, my mind is slightly dead tired.

I have been silent on my blog for a couple of days, which seems unusual‎. At times, I may blog twice or even three times a day, but these recent days, blogging for fun is a little bit too tiresome because blogging for money has already become a chore to me day by day. And I can’t stop doing it if I want to survive. Yeah, it sucks to be me. But well, at the very least this is the job I am passionate about so the boredom, the poor example and leadership, the disappointing work ethics can be tolerated to a seemingly limitless extent. It’s almost all of love labor.

Ultimately, what brings me back to sanity and productivity is my love and passion of WRITING.And I kind of miss it now.

Live Blogging for Dummies

Live blogging could be distraction to some. Take Steve Jobs as an example. He once made all of the journalists in the room covering the launch of the product ‎put their laptops down, and even better, switch them off. Poor Jobs. He annoyed the journos without remorse. You cannot blame people for doing their job, Jobs!

So apparently live blogging is pretty much a hit maker especially when a hugely impactful event is in progress. Like the last live blog I was writing on that news site I work for. I was on fire writing about the verdict of Prabowo Subianto law suit. As we all know, he sued his opponents, accusing Jokowi and Jusuf Kalla of being tricky and slimy to win over him and Hatta Rajasa. He seemed to do it only to prove he is a loser once again. Another shame he brought for himself. The staunch supporters of Prabowo-Hatta rallied outside the Constitution Court and caused some physical clashes but luckily no one got killed in the process. The army on duty had been instructed to be less agressive (because perhaps Prabowo used to be part of them‎ and is still so no, though informally).

I was NOT there, to be blunt. I was only sitting at my desk, listening to some live streams broadcast on the web. Everyone was curious on what was going on and what was about to happen after the rally. I also summarized longer pieces of news spread on Twitter timeline of some news sites.

Basically this is what I do when I have to live blog indoor. I prepare a web page where I could write a line or two at first, and then as the time goes by, I will add more details chronologically. Mention hours and minutes to give impression you’re continously updating. So when they refresh your page, they can find something new to read, whether it be texts or photos or videos.

Here are some of my insights on live blogging based on my experience.

Focus, focus, focus!
You undoubtedly need to enhance you focus. It’s like listening exams, you listen to sources and process, summarize and publish the information and thoughts almost instantly. Without too long delay, or your readers will be disappointed. It’s very easy when you are in the middle of the quiet room. But when you have to cover outdoor events and liveblog about it, there’s extra mental work to do for you. Never forget to ask a friend or two to be with you to watch your belongings in case you need to use the bathroom for a minute or so. You cannot leave your laptop just like that in an open space where strangers‎ are anywhere to see. That holds true when you already get the right strategic spot to comfortably see and observe a live event and never want to relinquish it to other journos.

Make sure you’re near ‎unused power outlets

‎I cannot stress more on the importance of securing a spot near power outlets.

Make sure the connection works smoothly
After electricity supply is solved, you need to ensure your connection works at the desired speed. Never rely on one modem or one cellular operator. At least, provide two. Otherwise, you’ll cry a river when your favorite operator’s‎ service turn out to suck a lot there.

Get ready with your smartphone
Live blogging could be similar to live tweeting but of course you have to write longer, because you simply CAN. ‎Be more accurate as a reporter than a Twitter user.

And if you are an avid user of WordPress mobile application, you may use the app to live blog. Just add more details on one single blog post with time stamps for each update, with the latest right up there near the title. The app would be such a great tool when you cannot sit there to type on your laptop.

I haven’t given an outdoor live blogging a try. But my hunch is it is going to be a lot more challenging as you will have to deal with more distraction than live blogging indoor.

That said, happy live blogging!

On Creating Viral Content (Hint:Quantity Sucks)

The web has become a place overflowing with crappy content. Crappy content? What is that in the first place? As a content writer, ‎I have seen too much crappy content published and consumed on the web. This is that particular content that sucks so badly. In my own experience, crappy content is something you can effortlessly copy and paste from another site onto your own without providing pleasure or value to the Internet users, having only one single goal in mind:SHORT-TERM PROFITS.

I tell you what, it will NOT work! And if you do it because you think you have no better options, I tell you:‎It sucks to be you. Because there are many better options of strategy to choose from.

I have seen a bunch of people doing this silly and senseless thing‎, pretty much every single day. And I am ashamed I used to be part of the ignorance sometimes. But as I realized more, I found out this was an insanity involving time and resources spending which produces little or meager, unsatisfactory results.

So let me tell you, I happen to know this bunch ‎of people who are so deeply obsessed with hits and Alexa ranks. They post content (in the form of articles from other sites) days and nights like hundreds of them. It is a toil. It is all about “how many” and “how fast”. It has never touched on the question of “how great”, which makes it miserable. No one wants to advertise on the site. But who wants? It is just another site with thousand articles with no distinct voice. By distinct, I can safely say it has a unique editorial voice, a mission to pursue, a stance to make, a proposition to defend or advocate, etc. They have none. They only have money to burn, with no creativity, no shrewd strategy and very low passion in their head. Plus, a leader who is too quantity-oriented and as stubborn as a swine.

PATHETIC!

Don’t be like these people. ‎Don’t let the same tragedy happen to you.

At first, we need to believe that publishing content on the web should be meant to provide quality content that addresses real problems of rea‎l people. Profits are side effects. Hits, Alexa rank and high ads revenue are some bonuses that follow after you provide quality content people need very much. It is all about changing mindset, from the idea that content is a pure tool of making profits to the more sincere and ideal proposition that content provides assistance for us to solve problems. Quite literally, stop think selfishly. Rather, start treating readers the way you want to be treated.

‎Creating content that goes viral would entail ‎a wide array of factors. The first is pick the right topic. Select the hottest, most talked about topics and you are more likely to succeed. The last time I wrote about politics during the presidential elections, ‎it was a blast as everyone was suddenly interested in political issues. Everyone wanted to read some content that enrich, verify or challenge their own political beliefs. Hence, as a content writer I naturally had the urge to share. To share things that I think useful, interesting and valuable enough for them to consume and then, of course, spread.

But aside from creating useful, great content, you need to make sure it also has to be authentic at the same time. Don’t let yourself be a follower. Create new and fresh content. The more authentic content is, the better it gets. Ensure the content is first published on your site. So you basically position yourself as a thought leader. That way, people will come to your site whenever they need the information. If you cannot make sure it is absolutely new, now you always can publish it but convey it in a unique way, and add some more values. Be different, that is the key! And that is as easy as becoming yourself.

The second is write long. If it is possible to write longer pieces, just do it. Even if it takes days! Don’t hesitate to be a perfectionist‎ when you are allowed. I met a guy who didn’t seem to mind waiting for days to polish his one long and comprehensive writeup on a topic. It is totally okay not to publish immediately sometimes. Take your time. It will not hurt if you pursue perfection anyway. And you know what? That is why his site only publishes one or two new articles once in 2-3 days. So slow I know it is. This guy’s site, however, ranks much better than the previously mentioned site that publishes hundreds of unauthentic, soul-less articles. I would never believe it if I had not seen it before my naked eyes.

The third is ignore quantity. You ought to prefer writing one great piece that impresses people and benefit them simultaneously to producing hundreds of pieces that makes you like a bot. Always remember, as quantity takes the reign, you will lose more of your time to be personal and profound on the web, i.e. to be yourself, because you only want to reach the targetted number no matter what it costs you. And I have to tell you, networking on social media is not about making other people’s newsfeed full with your updates and self promotional content. It is in fact more about building community around you and in a community, there should be interaction taking place on a daily basis. It does not mean paying attention to quantity is always a waste of resources but beware of the loss of the ability to enjoy what you do because contrary to popular belief, creating and marketing content successfully is a long-term work and meticulous type of toil. You have got to work hard every day, building everything bit by bit from the sractch and maintain it, then expand or improve what is already achieved. And if your main motivation is quick cash, you will NEVER manage to get through all this hardship.

Last of all, forget about SEO techniques. I seriously tell you. If you have important and unique messages to convey, even without SEO, people will always find your great content. Content that matters always attracts people to spread it further.

That said, I am convinced writing viral content shared by virtually everybody is easy. By easy, I mean it means natural, just like how you basically communicate by means of old media and tools. No special formula is required, to be blunt. Don’t be mean, selfish and you will get there.

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Writers' Moral Responsibility

‎”The first job of a writer is to be HONEST.”- Irvine Welsh

I typed the word “honest” in capital letters as I cannot tell you how much I find this quote inspiring to me. ‎This quote at its best teaches us writers in general (whether they be bloggers, published authors, print journalists, online journalists, novelists, short story writers, or even mere Facebook updates’ creators) that nothing can substitute integrity and honesty.

But for some reason I cannot fathom why some writers plunge themselves into this kind of abyss named politics a little bit too far.‎ Take Indonesian moslem writer Jonru Ginting as an example. The self-proclaimed writer, entrepreneur, and internet marketer (as he himself stated on jonru.net). He is allegedly to be the culprit behind the photo showing Jokowi as a priest at a church giving sermons according to islamtoleran.com (another site with unknown track records). The photo was found to be photoshopped and thus fake. Jonru (@jonru) himself denied the accusation via Twitter and Facebook. But long before that, when Egypt crisis broke last year, he was reportedly releasing a hoax to change the perception of those who did not believe in the sincerety of Ikhwanul Muslimin movement (source: badaruzz on www.kaskus.co.id, 14/07/2014). He was said to have used a photo of a smiling corpse, with the intention of convincing readers that Ikhwanul Muslimin casualties were died heroes. But the photo was found to be sourced from the web. The photo was allegedly taken from Malaysia, where the woman was only mimicking and acting as a corpse during a simulation of taking care of dead body before the burial based on Islamic regulations.

I am not going too comprehensive about who is wrong or right in this politically sensitive case but it may also be due to the implications of his involvement as a cadre of Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (PKS) , who openly criticizes and frequently attacks Jokowi on his Twitter account and Facebook fanpage (https://www.facebook.com/jonru.page).

And that being said, I am not either about to judge him for being a politically biased writer ‎because that is his own preference entirely. Yet, what I want to highlight is how perilous it may get when you involved in affairs such as politics as you may lose your integrity and neutrality as a writer. Because as far as I can see, those two things are the most invaluable and intangible assets for writers of all kinds. You can tell lies in fictional works as much as you want but never ever spread lies in your reports, non-fictional works since it may put your credibility at stake.

Because I believe there is NO fine line between liers and truth tellers in writing. Either you tell a complete lie that still makes sense of course in some way (i.e. fictional authors) or tell the “truth” ‎as far as you possibly can do (i.e. reporters). Certainly, subjectivity may intrude in between but can subjectivity or bias leads a writer to lies or even worse libels, or defamation? Have your say.