Tag Archives: brevity

Writing/producing for the web: BASIC principles of online journalism (Online journalism lesson #3)

Here’s the 3rd in my series of classes in online journalism. Having already set up an RSS readers and Delicious account, a Twitter account and a blog, this week they start the news website, and learn about writing and producing for the web:

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Blogging journalists pt 4: Blogs and news production: “I think in hyperlinks, even when working in print”

The 4th part of the results of my survey of blogging journalists looks at how blogs have affected how news production is affected by blogging.

The area where respondents most often identified a change in news production was in the rise of a looser, more personal, and less formal writing style, echoing the findings of Wall (2005). Respondents talked of finding their “voice”, being more informal and “creative”. For some this fed back into the mainstream news vehicles, particularly for broadcast journalists whose work previously involved less writing. Continue reading

BASIC principles of online journalism: B is for Brevity

In the first part of a five-part series, I explore how and why a talent for brevity is one of the basic skills an online journalist needs – whether writing an article or employing multimedia. This will form part of a forthcoming book on online journalism – comments very much invited.

It shouldn’t have to be said that the web is different, but I’ll say it anyway: the web is different. It is not print, it is not television, it is not radio.

So why write content for the web in the same way that you might write for a newspaper or a news broadcast?

Organisations used to do this, and some still do. It was called ‘shovelware’, a process by which content created for another medium (generally print) was ‘shovelled’ onto the web with nary a care for whether that was appropriate or not.

It was not.

People read websites very differently to how they read newspapers, watch television or listen to radio. For a start, they read 25% slower than they do with print – this is because computer screens have a much lower resolution than print: 72 dots in every square inch compared to around 150-300 in newspapers and magazines (this may change, but usage patterns are likely to stay the same for some time yet).

As a result, you need to communicate your story in less time than you would in print. You need to develop brevity. Continue reading