Virginia Rutter was the founding editor of the Council on Contemporary Families Blog—CCF @ The Society Pages — which was launched in 2014. CCF@TSP is a venue for reporting on new research, policy reports, and current events. A particularly valuable feature of the blog has been the inclusion of undergraduate students, who have had the chance to engage with the substance of family sociology and the opportunity to address broader audiences. Virginia steps down in April, and I will be taking over. Here are some questions I had for Virginia before she leaves us:
AK: What were some of your favorite blog posts that you edited in your tenure as editor of the Council on Contemporary Families blog?
VR: I’m still delighted with the title for Braxton Jones’s October 2016 post, As American as Divorce, which was a round-up of interviews done about research and commentary on divorce. But, Secular Listening at a Brainstorming and Prayer Meeting on 11/9/16 by Sarah Diefendorf, about the reaction by Evangelicals to the election of President Trump, was a wonderful, generous, quick turnaround piece of writing dealing with just a shocking, shocking day. I felt like Sarah had gone off to do the best kind of meditation for a sociologist to do on WTF had just happened the day before: She studied it. Respectfully, thoughtfully, effectively. And she told us a bit of what she heard, and so told us also about her own process in that strange time. The post went up two weeks after that 2016 election day. At that time it was hard to talk about the election, about people, about factions, and yet so hard not to do so. She did it, and it was a great post.
AK: What is your advice for a blog writer who wants to write a successful blog post? What are some common missteps?
VR: The great thing about blogging is whenever you’ve said something you want to put out into the world, that’s success. But at CCF@TSP a few things work well: Make it short. Make one point. Don’t be cutesy or corny or cliché. You aren’t writing a scholarly paper, but you do have to support or substantiate what you have to say.
So, to make it short: Edit yourself, just take the time to streamline it sentence by sentence. To make one point, try reading your post backwards, paragraph by paragraph. You might see that you have more points than you need. You can always keep the multiple directions—there’s really no limit on space!—but make that decision consciously. Remember, that stray point could be the start of a separate post.
A few other rules: Try to make your title short, too. Provide the editor with open source artwork to go with your post, and embed good links to key references. Here or anywhere, know the website you are writing for; read other people’s posts there. That will teach you what to do and what not to do better than anything else.
AK: What are you looking forward to doing with all your free time now that you will no longer be managing this blog?
VR: Yes, like other professors at underfunded state universities fighting for our contract, I am mostly, but for the occasional blogging, a lady of leisure. Just kidding. I have a project right now that focuses on connecting students from underrepresented groups to people just like them in professions they want to pursue. And at this very moment, I am completing a report about a family diversity and change teach-in we held last fall at Framingham State. It involved a digital photography installation, SHOWING (workxfamily), and about six weeks of campus events including about 65 classes that incorporated the exhibition into their subjects—from physics to English to (of course) sociology.
Virginia Rutter is Professor of Sociology at Framingham State University. Follow her on twitter at @virginiarutter. Arielle Kuperberg is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Follow her on twitter at @ATKuperberg.