By Jocelyn Syrstad
As was the case for many people in the media industry, Sue Favor had to search for new options when she couldn’t get a job in newspaper journalism in Seattle.
Favor, now a blogger for womentalksports.com, left traditional media in the late 1990s because of newspaper downsizing and started her blog around the same time to keep herself involved in the sports media market.
With many newspapers downsizing, many writers are turning to blogs and other hyperlocal sites to fulfill their passion for writing. However with social media and blogging sites rising in popularity in recent years, Favor feels the focus of readers is shifting to fit those molds of how we share news.
“People seem to be more interested in personal perspectives and opinions now than fairness, which was always the tenant of journalism,” Favor said. “People also seem to prefer opinion and perspective to facts and research. If you like to read about what others think, read them fight about it or otherwise view heresy and controversy, then local, non-mainstream media is for you.”
However, mainstream media has transformed itself to contain both the blogging and reporting aspects of journalism. Many newspapers encourage its reporters to have a blog that corresponds with their given beat.
Therefore, the lines are being blurred between mainstream media and more hyperlocal blogs and sites as they are all beginning to come together.
So as more and more women enter into journalism, they should be prepared to do a little bit of everything—including setting up their own personal blog or webpage.
“The lines are so gray now that there really are no lines,” said Andrea Nowak, co-creator of westboundboarder.com, a site dedicated to women and snowboarding. “Now there are not many traditional outlets that don’t also co-exist online with a blogging counterpart. I think now there is a very nice balance.
“I do think, though, that starting and maintaining your own blog or becoming a contributor to a well-known online media outlet is a great way to get your foot in the door and express your opinion. It can help you build and establish a name and brand for yourself.”
Some women in the industry have transformed their careers from traditional media outlets to write for more hyperlocal blogs and sites, and many others are starting their careers blogging and skipping the newspapers altogether. But no matter what their career path has consisted of, these women are enjoying their time writing for more unconventional sites.
“I decided to stick with blogging as opposed to entering into the mainstream media industry because I have more freedom and flexibility to write about topics I am passionate about,” Nowak said. “Blogging allows you to have a voice and be part of an online community you otherwise wouldn’t.”
Nowak started her blog with her friend and former teammate to give women in snowboarding a more positive perspective. When they searched for information on the topic originally, all they would find were sites that advertised “hot women” of the sports. Their goal was to change that image.
Cindy Leonard, who runs a Stanford women’s basketball blog, started her main site, Women’s Sports Information, when she had a difficult time finding women’s shoes in a five-story Nike store in San Francisco. Her goal was to give women resources about sports and gear tailored to women.
It was just shortly after that in 2005 when she started blogging for the Stanford women’s team. Leonard, too, never wrote for conventional media, but believes that hyperlocal blogs and sites are the way of the future.
“Mainstream media is changing drastically and it is moving online or digital,” Leonard said. “In the last two years nearly every reporter had to get a blog. Readers no longer have to passively read what the newspaper tells them. They can tailor their online experience to what they want to read.”
Note: Featured in the AWSM Newsletter, Spring/Summer 2011 edition.