MinnPost blog critic asks “What’s the best platform for bloggers?”


Coutesy of minnpost.com

Tooting my horn here: Justin Piehowski, 30, blog critic for MinnPost.com and winner of five Regional Emmy Awards for his work as a Web Manager at KSTP-TV, asked bloggers some questions about their experiences launching blogs. Piehowski mentioned my RepJ blog and LocallyGrownNorthfield.org. See what he wrote below in quotes:

“Bonnie Obremski uses WordPress on her new Representative Journalism Project blog. She was exposed to it while contributing to the community news site Locally Grown Northfield.”

She said she really likes the attractive templates on WordPress and has already recommended it to a family member. However, she gets very frustrated with trying to embed .html code of videos and slideshows from other sites onto her WordPress blog. The process is not smooth, she said.”

OK so not earth-shattering information coming from me there. But in case you’re interested in seeing the whole interview, which Justin and I did via e-mail (we’re facebook AND Twitter friends now!), read on.

“Hey Bonnie,
I am the blog critic for MinnPost.com. I’ve been following your blog for some time now. It’s very well-written and informative! Congratulations. Journalism’s changing, how do we keep up. I ask myself all the time.

So…I am doing a story this week on Blogger vs. Typepad vs. WordPress vs. Movable Type. It’s for people who are starting a blog, I want to let them know what their options are and what some ups and downs of each platform.

Would you be willing to comment on using WordPress? Do you have an opinion on it? I wanna get some good Minnesota bloggers into the story. I’ll mention you in the story and include a link to your site.

If you’re game, the questions are below. Answer as few or many as you feel comfortable answering.”

“Tell me about your blog? What’s the mission?”

My blog is dedicated to producing content about the Representative Journalism Project, the changes in the journalism industry and community news for Northfield, Minn.I created the blog to show the process of working on a project like mine, and to show the process of reporting news stories for my community. It’s a place that’s supposed to be very active, with two or three blubs going up every day, if I can. I want the community to feel like I am encouraging discussion and very open to any ides or suggestions that they might have. If my readers email me with content they think is relevant, I put that on the site and credit them. Or, I reach out to people who aren’t necessarily reading the blog, but who are key community players and solicit comments from them that I put up on the blog.

I just started the blog two weeks ago so it’s still building. Every so often, I produce in-depth community news features. Those features are more than just a daily blog posting. They’re more magazine-style and I want to do more to make them stand out as such. The finished pieces are featured on LocallyGrownNorthfield.org.

I started my own blog in response to reader criticism that it was too distracting to have both my process work and my finished articles so closely tied all in one space on LocallyGrown. So, I started the blog to separate the process from the finished work.

“Why do you blog?”

I blog because it’s a good way to draw attention to the community news I produce and I’m hoping to one day create on online community where people feel a sense of ownership or personal pride in coming to the site and contributing in some way.

“How did you end up on WordPress?”

WordPress is free, fairly easy to use and Griff Wigley, who operates the successful LocallyGrownNorthfield.org blog, introduced me to blogging via WordPress. It’s what he uses for LocallyGrown.

“It’s free, right?”

Although I haven’t explored it, I get a bit of a sense at times that you “get what you pay for.” For instance, the templates can be fairly limiting, especially if you’re not a Web programmer. Also, there’s not many options for text formatting when you’re writing a post. It seemed better with an older version of WordPress. With the current evolution, I still can’t figure out how to change the size or type of font.

“What’s the best thing about WordPress?”

Free, easy, attractive templates.

“What’s the worst thing about it?”

Difficulty of customization for the non-programmer.

“Is there anything you wish it did? Frustrations with it?”

The font (see above) Also, sometimes I have difficulty embedding slideshows and other media. It’ll erase the html code when I hit publish. I’m sure it’s just me doing something wrong, but it’s definitely not clear what.

“Have you tried to integrate ads?”

No, but Griff Wigley is.

“How long did it take you to figure out how to use?”

I suppose a few hours over time as I learned through trial and error. I don’t do much of anything that’s complicated.

“Would you recommend it to someone starting up a blog?”

Yes, already have! My mom and my fiance. My fiance said he wished there was a template that didn’t set up his information in blog format…he wanted more of a “regular” web site.

“What is something about WordPress? that most people don’t know?”

I’m not really a whiz by any means. Oh, here’s something: if I want to comment on my own blog, it automatically makes me comment under my user name. (I wish I could enter my real name when I comment instead of having to sign out of WordPress and revisit my site as if I were an outsider)



Filed under Anecdotes, Business, Citizen Participation, LocallyGrownNorthfield, Project discussion, Project progress

3 responses to “MinnPost blog critic asks “What’s the best platform for bloggers?”

  1. Yeah, not a whole lot of room to squeeze all the quotes in:)

    Good idea, publishing the email. Thanks again, Justin

  2. Bonnie,

    There’s a difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. For example, there are more restrictions on how embed code can be used on WP.com.

    As for commenting on one’s own blog, I sometimes boot up another browser (Google Chrome, IE7) if I don’t want to comment as a logged in WP.com user.

  3. Thanks Griff! Both good things to know. You’d mentioned the differences between WP.org and .com before but I guess I’m still unclear as to all the reasons why they’re different. And now I guess I’m wishing I signed up for the .org.

    I had another WP question from someone: How can you change the url name after you first set up a blog?

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