cybersocRobin Hamman is a senior broadcast journalist and community producer with BBC English regions.

Mr Hamman has been online in one form or another since 1985. He has more than ten years' experience developing online communities. However, with Cybersoc, he is a relative latecomer to blogs.

"I started blogging late in the game, primarily because I wanted to debunk the myth that blogs were interesting or useful. It turns out that I've never looked back and now blog almost obsessively.

"I use my personal blog to talk about a lot of what the BBC is doing, in particular in the areas of user-generated content, online community, citizen journalism and blogging.

"By blogging outside the firewall, I'm able to be a part of a much wider and more informed conversation than if I just used the BBC's many internal wikis or if I blogged on our intranet."

Very quickly he found blogging an inspiraton: "I'd never engaged so directly in a conversation with my audience and that was truly exciting."

And he started to see the value of linking with like-minded bloggers: "Comments and other blogs that were a part of the same, or similar, conversations became my main source of industry insight."

His experience convinces him of the value of blogging: "I think that everyone who works in industry, journalism or academia needs to blog to stay relevant and informed these days."

Mr Hamman is currently running the editorial session for a series of blogging workshops for BBC staff.

"We brainstorm about how they might be able to engage with local bloggers, linking to them, contacting them as sources for stories and bringing bloggers' views into the other journalism they are doing."

A session at BBC Berkshire had almost instant results: "The day they put those ideas into practice, they got their first scoop from a blogger."

Ollie Williams, a broadcast journalist at BBC Berkshire, read this post on a local blog called, The last thing to go is a sense of humour, written by a mother about problems with a local school and facilities for her autistic child.

"I flagged this up to our news editor who immediately recognised it as a powerful story," explains Mr Williams on his Dayorama blog.

"Within 24 hours of adopting our new approach, we were involved in a meaningful, captivating story. None of that would have happened without that weblog, and without Robin's visit."

Blogging has affected more than just his approach to journalism: "It's also done wonders for my visibility both externally and within the BBC.

"I know, from some of the meetings I'm now invited to, and emails I get, that a huge range of BBC people, some of them rank and file and others at quite senior levels, have found me online," said Mr Hamman.

A recurring topic on Mr Hamman's blog is so-called 'open source journalism'. And he has his own ideas about how the BBC might incorporate the idea: "Having seen the 10,000 emails flooding into the BBC News Online inbox each day, I doubt we'll go down the road of saying 'tell us what to report'.

"We should, I think, make all sorts of partners to help us find and report the stories that are missed when journalists depend solely upon the news wires.

"And when we do take a story from AP or Reuters, we should probably also be doing more to link to other views and, considering that most news and media organisations get much of their news from the same small number of sources, about the only realistic way of finding alternative viewpoints in some instances is to find out and link to what bloggers are saying."

Mr Hamman believes any journalist starting a blog needs to plan: "The first thing a journalist considering blogging needs to think about is what their purpose for doing so is. Staff journalists should investigate whether their employer has a staff blog policy."

He also recommends scouring the many top 10 tips posts on blogs like Online Journalism Review, ProBlogger, The Telegraph and

If cash is an interest, look at the advertising offerings, although he admits: "Of the bloggers I know, very few are able to make a profit."

However, increased visibility can bring less obvious financial rewards: "By blogging, journalists reach new and different audiences with their ideas and their work.

"By doing so, they increase their opportunities to get noticed and to be commissioned to do pieces of paid work.

"There is enormous value in blogging - as a source of ideas, content, comment, criticism, and contacts. It can also - and I think this comes as a surprise to many journalists - be career enhancing."

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