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Writing For The Web

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Transcript

  • 1. Writing for the web
    • Words are still the main focus of online journalism.
    • Readers still just want the most complete, accurate and engaging coverage as possible.
    • Basic rules of journalism still apply
      • What are the basic rules of journalism?
  • 2. Basic rules of journalism
      • Fairness
      • Attribution
      • Accuracy
      • Relevance
  • 3. Breaking news
    • One of the greatest strengths of the web is the ability to keep news updated and to alert readers immediately.
    • It’s also has brought the biggest organizational changes to newsrooms – shifting from daily deadlines to constant deadlines.
    • This has caused the rethinking of work flow, editing and reporting responsibilities.
  • 4. So what’s different?
    • No “finished” product
    • Stories tend to be shorter (Online readers tend to scan the page they are looking at; Some online readers are using small handheld devices.)
    • Links (more on this Thrusday)
    • Formatting
  • 5. General Tips
    • The shorter, the better: Readers appreciate writers who don’t waste their time. Use simple, direct language.
    • Active voice: “Do it,” don’t “will have been done” it. Cast as much of the action in the active voice as you can.
    • Strong verbs: The best verbs demonstrate action.
    • First Five Graphs: News, context, impact, human dimension (Also, there is the nut graph.)
    • Format: Break up that boring mass of type by using:
      • Lists
      • Bold headers
  • 6. More tips
    • Say what you mean
      • Try saying it out loud before you write it. We tend to speak more directly than we write. We get to the point more quickly, too, when we can see the listener's eyes glazing over.
    • Short paragraphs
      • A 100-word graph looks long on a web page. Long paragraphs send a signal to the reader: This will require effort.
      • How much will a person read on a Web page? Is there a limit? Maybe. Stick to 300-400 words.
  • 7. Updating
    • Stories aren’t always “finished” when they are posted online; Newspapers’ websites are similar to AP.
      • Examples: Courant.com ; NYTimes.com
    • Breaking news online: A short history and timeline by Mindy McAdams
  • 8. Oldie, but goodie
    • Concise, scannable and objective: How to write for the web by John Morkes and Jakob Nielsen
      • If a quick scan doesn't show readers the information they need, they won't spend time searching for it.
      • The longer the text, the less likely web users are to read it.
      • The longer the text, the faster web users will skim the scannable elements (headlines, summaries, and captions).
    • Stanford/Poynter Project
      • Readers’ eyes go toward text more than photos and graphics.