5 Feb 09 Online Journalism – Multimedia Packages&Writing Class Notes Feb5 2009

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Class Notes - Writing for the Web. Online Journalism UN JOUR 3340 Professor Neil Foote

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5 Feb 09 Online Journalism – Multimedia Packages&Writing Class Notes Feb5 2009

  1. 1. Online Journalism – JOUR 3340 <ul><li>Class Notes </li></ul><ul><li>Planning Multimedia Stories </li></ul><ul><li>Writing for the Web </li></ul><ul><li>February 5, 2009 </li></ul>
  2. 2. For Tuesday, Feb. 10 <ul><li>Go to http://newsvoyager.com and http://newsdirectorycom </li></ul><ul><li>Find two newspaper websites and two TV websites </li></ul><ul><li>Write 300-400 post for your blog analyzing the website using the following criteria: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Content: Does the website follow any of the rules on writing for the web? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Functionality: Is the website easy to use? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Navigation: How easy can you find content on the site? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Audio/Video Quality: Is there any? Is it useful? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interactivity: How does it engage readers? </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Style Tips <ul><li>Here’s some advise from Jakob Nielsen , the guru of web design and usability: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Users do not read on the Web; instead they scan the pages, trying to pick out a few sentences or even parts of sentences to get the information they want </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Users do not like long, scrolling pages: they prefer the text to be short and to the point </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Users detest anything that seems like marketing fluff or overly hyped language (&quot;marketese&quot;) and prefer factual information. </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Remember this <ul><li>Know your audience </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is the content relevant to your readers? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do readers really want this information? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Define the ‘form(s)’ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Interactive: graphics and other elements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Slideshows: with or without audio </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Polls/Surveys </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Write Visually </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use bulleted lists </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use numbered lists </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use Tables </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Include pictures and other graphics </li></ul></ul>Source: http://www.usability.gov/design/writing4web.html
  5. 5. Remember this <ul><li>Make it ‘tight and bright’ </li></ul><ul><li>Use the 5 Ws, but really remember to the ‘So what?’ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Explain why I should care </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Poynter says: “Banish gray” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Scannability’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Splitability’ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Linking is OK </li></ul>
  6. 6. Writing Style – ‘Chunking’ <ul><li>Information broken into ‘chunks’ of information. </li></ul><ul><li>Web users prefer to print out long documents or save them on their hard drives. </li></ul><ul><li>Long stories on the web are hard to read. The more a reader needs to scroll, the less likely they are to read the story. </li></ul><ul><li>Organizing information into relevant ‘chunks’ helps keep the reader interested. Facilitates adding links to enhance interactivity. Be careful: Don’t divide content into too many parts or readers will lose interest. </li></ul><ul><li>Chunking is a method to create consistency of web style, and helps readers understand the content flow on your site. </li></ul>Source: Webstyle Guide: http://webstyleguide.com/site/chunk.html
  7. 7. Writing Style <ul><li>Headlines – Compelling </li></ul><ul><ul><li>On the web, headlines sell the story </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Six to 10 words </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Strong verbs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Most important items first </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Question headlines workable </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Blurbs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Summaries of story, often on home page and linked to full length story </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Briefs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A complete story in just a few sentences. </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Writing Style <ul><li>Conversational style </li></ul><ul><li>Cross between broadcast writing and print </li></ul><ul><li>Lively verbs, colorful adjectives and distinct nouns. </li></ul><ul><li>Active voice always! </li></ul><ul><li>Short paragraphs </li></ul><ul><li>Be aware of references to your sources </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Consider using full name on second reference because you don’t know how story may link </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Additional Style Tips <ul><li>Consider one idea per paragraph – even if it’s just one sentence. </li></ul><ul><li>Write in easily understood sentences. </li></ul><ul><li>Include links as part of your copy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. Bill Gates [link to his bio] created Microsoft [link to microsoft.com] at a time when PCs were just beginning to become commonplace. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Think Globally. Avoid regional/local terms that may be misunderstood by the broader audience. </li></ul><ul><li>Develop a voice, a style, a flow. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Web Story Structure <ul><li>Get to the point </li></ul><ul><li>Story must be told in 50 words ... Then your reader MIGHT read the rest </li></ul><ul><li>REMEMBER: only about 100-150 lines per screen… and less if a reader is looking at story on a PDA. </li></ul><ul><li>Make everything you write relevant. </li></ul><ul><li>Constantly ask yourself: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Why should the reader care about this? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What elements of interactivity can be used to engage the reader to make the content more compelling? </li></ul></ul>

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