Where are all the college bloggers?

I was delighted to find Jessica DaSilva’s blog (via Pat Thornton). Jessica, a journalism student at the University of Florida, had a recent entry about her internship at the Tampa Tribune that took me back to the good old days of unadulterated enthusiasm.

Reading through Jessica’s blog shows you don’t have to be an expert with years of experience to have something valuable to offer.

So why aren’t more students blogging? I suspect it’s because, all over the country, students are still being taught to have a fear of blogging, bloggers and blogs.

I talked to a group of students at Lebanon Valley College this spring about blogging, and the professor challenged each of the students to start their own blog.

Some of the results: Popcorn Nation, A Mess of Youthful Innocence, PA Press Watch, Over the Counter, Not Just Another Indie Hipster, Today’s Menu.

Some of them are really impressive offerings. PA Press Watch was a great read in the Pennsylvania primaries, as he dissected how different newspapers covered everything. Popcorn Nation and Not Just Another Indie Hipster have been embedding videos and linking with the best of them. Over the Counter and Today’s Menu have given interesting looks at working in a pharmacy and restaurant, respectively.

These are difficult subjects to maintain blogs on, but they need not be professional. What’s really cool about the project is that the students are beginning to understand the culture of blogging. You see them leaving comments on each other’s entries. You see them linking to each other, or leaving comments in other blogs.

These students, once they find themselves at a news organization, will be much better suited to starting a blog on their beat. Having maintained a blog while in college was one of my big selling points in being hired for my current reporting job.

So let me ask: Do you know of any other students blogging about journalism, like Jessica DaSilva? If you are one, please make sure to let me know you exist.

UPDATE (12:22 p.m.): Jessica makes two great points in the comment thread:

And I agree that more students should be blogging. I’ve noticed that in keeping up my blog, it forces me to keep abreast on my news to ensure I know what I’m talking about.

It’s also teaching me how to combine my own personal flair with what I know. Later, when I have a beat to blog about, I feel like it’ll help me connect with readers so they know I’m not a robot.

  • Thanks for taking notice!

    And I agree that more students should be blogging. I’ve noticed that in keeping up my blog, it forces me to keep abreast on my news to ensure I know what I’m talking about.

    It’s also teaching me how to combine my own personal flair with what I know. Later, when I have a beat to blog about, I feel like it’ll help me connect with readers so they know I’m not a robot.

  • My favorite student blogger is Ha-mace at the group blog “Penn State On The Record”. The other bloggers there are weak, but Ha-mace does very good work, some of which focuses on the press.

  • Veblen — I agree on ha-mace. I’ve e-mailed him once or twice, and it was honor to be semi-ripped by him last week.

    There’s no reason the Daily Collegian couldn’t have a similarly accomplished student blogger, but they haven’t done much to figure out the Web culture yet. It’s a shame, because if you combined some of the reporting talent at the Collegian with ha-mace’s web-savviness, you’d have a young reporter with a lot of job offers.

  • WFY

    Perhaps they are “blogging” on Facebook or myspace.

  • I think there are two main reasons college students — especially journalism students — aren’t blogging.

    1)People don’t realize they can blog about anything. I think they feel compelled to blog about journalism or another “serious subject” –and it’s tough to keep up a blog when you don’t enjoy writing about your subject.

    2) Some journalism students don’t enjoy writing as much as they say they do. For them, it’s a chore. I’ve met journalism students who wouldn’t know an original idea if it exploded in front of them.

    Also, I’ve met students who aren’t scared of blogging but should be. These people blog about their jobs or internships in ways I’m sure their employers wouldn’t be happy to read about. I think the problem with fear of the blogosphere is that the people who should be scared away aren’t, and the people who shouldn’t be scared are.

  • Thanks for the link to my blog. Since taking Bob’s class I really have been taken over by the “blog culture.” I check mine and other people’s blogs a few times a day, even if I don’t always update more than once a day. It’s been fun to learn about all of this.

  • Here’s one!

    At least until December. Then I’m just another run of the mill blogger..

  • Like Matt said, thanks for the link to my blog. I know that I haven’t been updating as much as I’d like to but I’m still checking the blogs and everything a few times a week. I’m actually really glad that we did a blogging unit in Bob’s class, since I would do them all the time and people thought I was crazy. It’s definitely something that I love to do and I plan to keep it up.

  • I would point out that at Penn State there are many different blogging initiatives. I have had my MBA students blog as part of the service operations course, and over at the Shreyer Honors College they not only have the students blogging (at http://engage.shc.psu.edu/?page_id=47http://engage.shc.psu.edu/?page_id=47) but the dean blogs as well! (http://engage.shc.psu.edu/)

  • Thank you so much for linking my blog! Had it not been for Bob’s assignment, I probably would have never open my eyes to the blogging world. It’s truly a fascinating and worthwhile experience that I would greatly encourage others to try. Due to the stresses of two jobs and preparing myself for my freshman year of college, I haven’t had much time to update, but I still read all of my classmates. I hope to update within the week, actually.

  • Daniel, I’ve been asking myself the same question, and this is a great post. I think that it’s a combination of two things. Number 1, for many of these students, they are already writing like crazy for their college classes, and a blog feels too much like extra work. Number 2, many of them are blogging about their lives on livejournal/Xanga/blogger (see 20somethings.ning.com for a huge listing), but for some reason few are doing themes like sports or tech.

  • I might not really count, since I graduated in May, but for argument’s sake:
    I operated two blogs while at the University of Texas and just launched a new blog a few days ago. None of my blogs focus on journalism, per se, but I do plan on writing about it at various times on my new blog. (I’m already drafting a post on the beauty and value of narrative storytelling, for example.)
    http://buyingacarfrompoker.blogspot.com/ (M first foray into blogging — not really worth reading, but it did once have a small following.)
    http://burntorangesports.blogspot.com/ (No one really ever read this one, but it did land me a gig with examiner.com)
    http://monozygotic.wordpress.com/ (The latest and hopefully the greatest, it got over 1,500 hits during its first 24 hours of existence.)

    Students at UT aren’t being taught to fear all things blog. Rather, they’re being told they’d better learn to blog now.
    The Daily Texan hosts four blogs. Whether or not they’re any good is a fair question, but at least they exist.
    http://www.thedailytexanblogs.com/

    And finally, one of my recently graduate buddies runs a journalism-focused blog.
    http://thehungryjournalist.wordpress.com/

  • I started my blog, “I Want to be a Sports Agent”, as an undergrad at University of Florida. I had a desire to one day be a sports agent. Now, I am going into my second year of law school at UF, and I am the CEO and Founder of a sports agency created in April 2007. Without the blog, I would not be where I am at today.

    The blog: http://www.SportsAgentBlog.com
    The agency: http://www.DynastyReps.com

  • What’s up, Ryan? So, yeah, we had to learn fast how to blog for our classes. I was surprised but am now very grateful how much emphasis they put on this stuff.

    My blog does try and pick out some of the best ways to use technology from blogs like this, so I’d say that it does have a journalism aspect to it.

    And Darren, that’s sweet. My blog helped get me a job with Examiner.com (thanks, Ryan), but you’ve taken it to a whole new level. Congratulations.

  • Almost forgot…I ran a blog called austinsportsreport.com while still taking classes at UT. That place got some people riled up with some of the stuff I was reporting on. People were scared of the impact of blogging as journalism, but it was run so well and looked so legit (I’m assuming) that when one of my posts was being talked about on the local ESPN radio show, they referred to it as a “so-called news organization.” I laughed, but was flattered, too.

  • Another good college blog is

    http://adelanteonline.wordpress.com

    They’re actually going out there and covering immigration issues. Very top-notch work.

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  • Hi Daniel

    I’m not in the USA, but I’m a journalism student at the University of Westminster in London, who blogs on journalism and the news agenda on a daily basis.

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  • That was a great post. I will have to bookmark this site so I can read more later.

  • Another good college blog is http://www.collegwikis.com

    You can just about blog about anything on there and the answers are very helpful.

  • I know this is a litle late, but I only just found this article.

    I am Editor in Chief of a college newspaper in Michigan, and when I decided to start blogging, I wanted to do something that I knew I could maintain, so I started two blogs. One was a serious blog that I could post news and professional development on and the second was an idea I had about some silly stuffed animal that I had.

    The Adventures of Baby caught on more than I could have imagined, and now almost everyone who knows me follows and actively participates in the updates. Though It’s not super professional, I’ve been actively trying to market it and follow through with it. I don’t know what this means for my journalism career – good that I have a blog at all or bad that it’s so informal, I’m not sure – but I’ve started one nonetheless, mainly because I know how important it is that student journalists blog.

    My blog can be found at theadventuresofbaby.blogspot.com.