Robert Peston: my blog gives my sources confidence to talk to me
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In a new series about how journalists use blogging, the BBC's Business Editor, Robert Peston, says his blog is "almost the heart of the way I operate".
"Here and now is the best time to be broadcasting or writing about business. The private sector and the unleashing of market forces across the globe is changing all our lives, mostly for the better, but also (if, for example, you are in the wrong job in the wrong place, or if you've been saving in many conventional pension funds) for the worse. It's an epic drama called 'globalisation', with Tolstoyan themes."
Four years - and a major global financial crisis - on, Peston's blog attracts 2.5 million UK page views a month (BBC figure for final quarter of 2010).
After a career in newspapers, Peston's BBC job was the first in which he had to work with microphone and camera. Blogging drew more directly on his previous experience. And he says the blog lets him demonstrate the solid foundations of his reporting:"The great thing about the blog is that I can include all sorts of details that are never going to make it onto the TV or the radio. And that's really helpful, because it tells people out there that this is something that I know about and that I'm interested in, and it gives people out there more confidence - sources - to talk to me because they know I'm serious."
It also let him expose his more detailed work, so-called "scoops of interpretation". He says he loves ploughing through company accounts or Bank of England data. The blog "gives me an outlet when I just spot a trend or something hidden away in some numbers or accounts that I think carries some weighty implications. It gives me a way of taking the reader through the argument and coming up with a fairly startling conclusion."
Peston's blogs go through a formal editorial process in BBC News before being published. Nevertheless, he can blog from anywhere, at any time, on any subject - which plays to his strengths as a reporter:
"I've always been ... a pretty independent, autonomous individual," he says. "I'm a difficult bastard basically. I just take the view that I'm going to follow what interests me."
In the first of this Blogging for Journalists series, Nikki Finke, founder of Deadline.com, talks about how she made a fortune from her blogging site for Hollywood news.