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Editing Online News
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Editing Online News



UNC Assistant Professor Ryan Thornburg presents tips for editing and producing online news -- including SEO, headlines, blurbs and links.

UNC Assistant Professor Ryan Thornburg presents tips for editing and producing online news -- including SEO, headlines, blurbs and links.



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  • LOAD 1. businessweek.com 2. msn money 3. usnews.com 4. washingtonpost.com 5. n&o 6. yahoo news 7. overture and google keyword tools

Editing Online News Editing Online News Presentation Transcript

  • Editing Online Stories “ Inverted Pyramid 2.0”
  • What’s Different Online?
    • Headlines
    • Homepage Blurbs & Packages
    • Sidebar Links
    • Inline Links
    • Story Structure
  • Elements to Consider
    • Search Engine Optimization
    • People Don’t Read, They Scan
    • Every Page Is a Homepage
    • Inverted Pyramid 2.0
    • Trust
  • An Example …
    • U.S. News & World Report
    • MSN Money
  • Content Is King Because Editors Don’t Control Layout
    • Browser Penetration:
      • 44% Firefox
      • 26% IE 7
      • 20% IE 6
      • 4% Chrome
      • 3% Safari
  • Content Is King Because Editors Don’t Control Layout
    • Screen Resolution:
      • 38% greater than 1024 x 768
      • 48% 1024 x 768
      • 8% 800 x 600
  • Content Is King Because Editors Don’t Control Layout
    • Operating Systems:
      • 71% Windows XP
      • 17% Windows Vista
      • 5% Macintosh OS X
      • 4% Linux
  • Headlines
  • Headline Editing for Searchers and Scanners
    • Be Brief. Google and MSN display the first 8-10 words of your headline. Yahoo displays up to 16.
    • Make the first 3 words the most important, even if you have to write in passive voice
    • A headline is a label for the page. More emphasis on nouns. Less emphasis on verbs and adjectives.
    • Headlines must be able to stand on their own, without context of other page design elements.
    • Remember: Even when editing for an engine, a human still makes the click.
  • Headline Verb Tenses
    • Simple Present Tense
    • Use When …
      • Action Recently Completed: “Obama Signs Bill”
      • Habitual Action: “Santa Brings Joy”
      • General Truths: “Happiness Is a Warm Puppy”
  • Headline Verb Tenses
    • Present Progressive Tense
    • Use When …
      • Action Is Ongoing: “Weather Hampering Commute” or “Congress Voting on Bill”
  • Headline Verb Tenses
    • Simple Past
    • Use When …
      • Past action only recently revealed: “Government Denied Benefits to Veterans”
  • Headline Verb Tenses
    • Present Progressive Tense
    • Use When …
      • Action Is Ongoing: “Weather Hampering Commute” or “Congress Voting on Bill”
  • Headline Verb Tenses
    • Present Infinitive
    • Use When …
      • Future action is almost certain: “Obama to Sign Bill Tuesday”
  • Blurbs
    • Blurbs ALWAYS promote the story. They SOMETIMES summarize it.
    • Blurbs are not leads.
    • Blurbs mimic a magazine TOC:
    • 62 Parents Battle High Costs of College
    • This year’s freshman class will take out more
    • college loans than any group of college
    • students in history.
  • Blurbs
    • Compare washingtonpost.com blurb and lead
    • After Iraq, the Battles Continue
    • Mixed martial arts star Brian Stann has a story that sells and an undefeated fighting record.
    • The War Is Over for Stann, But the Battles Continue
    • Before each fight, Brian Stann walks into the cage knowing that whatever happens, nothing will compare to the hell he survived in Iraq.
  • Headlines & Blurbs: Working Together
    • From NYTimes.com …
    • McCain Camp Says Obama Is ‘Playing the Race Card’
    • The statement was in response to remarks Barack Obama made warning that Republicans would try to scare voters.
  • Writing Homepage Packages
    • There are five elements of headline and blurb writing.
    • Heads
    • Blurbs
    • Links
    • Labels
    • Timestamps
  • Every Page a Homepage
  • Every Page A Homepage
    • 50% to 70% of visits start at article page
    • Serendipity …
    • … and Spiders
    • Low Click Rate
  • Editing Link Sets
    • Group similar items together under a unifying label.
    • Don’t write generic labels. Don’t be repetitive.
    • Limit lists to 3-5 links.
    • Do not mix links that are relevant to the story with links that promote unrelated content elsewhere on the site.
    • When writings link text, follow SEO headline tips. Keep them short and descriptive.
    • Avoid commands such as “Read More” or “Click Here” whenever possible. Remember: The User is in Control. The Editor is the Guide.
    • Links within the main text column are more likely to be clicked, even if they’re at the bottom.
  • Editing Inline Links
    • People say that links within text are more annoying, but they are more likely to click on them than links on the side.
    • Link no more than three words in a row.
    • Link only the first instance of a word (unless the word is in the first graph, then you should link only the second instance of the word)
  • Editing Inline Links
    • Linked words should be selected because they describe the content to which they link.
    • Linked nouns often indicate the destination is an evergreen reference page.
    • Linked verbs often indicate either a visual of the action or a contemporary text account of the action.
  • Link Trust (or “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Wikipedia”)
  • Elements of Link Trust (a theory)
    • Transparency
    • Empowerment
    • Community
  • Elements of Link Trust (a theory)
    • Make sure links work
      • Whose job is it?
    • Tell readers…
      • When they are going offsite.
      • When they are going to a different media type, such as photos, video, audio, PDFs, or discussion boards.
      • When files are particularly large (>1 MB)
  • Elements of Link Trust (a theory)
    • Links : online new :: Quotes : print news
      • Show the direct words of another person.
      • Need to be put in context.
      • Need to have clear attribution.
      • You’re responsible (ethically, not legally) for inaccuracies.
  • Editing Inline Links
    • In the right context, links can provide humorous irony.
    • In the right context, links can serve as a narrative “reveal.”
  • Inverted Pyramid 2.0
  • Inverted Pyramid 2.0
    • News at the Top
    • Practice Sustainable Journalism
    • Choose Your Own Adventure
    • Related Content
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • SEO
    • Paid Search Results
      • Relevance of Search
      • Popularity of Term
      • Publisher’s Bid
    • Organic Search Results
      • Relevance of Search
      • Popularity of Page
  • Page Editing For Search Engine Optimization
    • Avoid using images for text
    • Be Brief: Anywhere from 800-1,000 words
    • Be Focused: One topic per page.
    • Label: Use page headers and paragraph headers with keywords
    • Use Metadata
  • Meta What?
    • Metadata: Data About the Data
      • <title>
      • <description>
      • <keyword>
  • Metatag: <title>
    • 5-10 words; 70-80 characters
    • Unique for each page on your site
    • No Superlatives
    • No Prepositions, Conjunctions, Articles
  • Metatag: <description>
    • Marketing: A Call to Action
    • Use Keywords
    • Who, What and Why
  • Metatag: <keyword>
    • Be Brief: 10 keywords; 200 characters
    • Be Focused
    • Don’t Deceive
  • How do I know how searchers think?
    • https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal
  • SEO Is …
    • A black art…
    • Always changing …
    • A battle of good vs. evil …
    • http://SearchEngineWatch.com
    • http://battellemedia.com