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Writing For Online Newspapers1
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Writing For Online Newspapers1


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  • 1. Dianne Smith, MJE Travis High School Fort Bend ISD
  • 2. Writing for the web
    • Shares other news writing characteristics:
      • Brevity
      • Clarity
      • Accuracy
    • Often breaks long stories into “bite-sized” chunks for busy readers
    • Makes use of interactive features, such as polls, to involve the reader in ways other media cannot.
  • 3. The web offers
    • A bigger canvas for storytelling than newspapers, radio or television can be by themselves because elements of each, plus other features can be incorporated.
  • 4. On the web, journalists can
    • Publish information as news breaks. Updates are easy. Scheduled press runs and air times don’t apply.
    • Be as “in depth” as the situation calls for. There are no limits on space or time.
    • Link to previously published information or related content to make the story more relevant.
    • Make use of interactive or multimedia content
    • Get reader feedback almost immediately
  • 5. The web is 24/7
    • Writers for the web emphasize the “up to the minute” aspect of the content. Present tense writing plays up the “happening RIGHT NOW” idea.
    • Because the story may be online for several days, the time element must be made very clear, so updating involves rewriting content to reflect that.
  • 6. “ Teasing” is important
    • Just like traditional newspapers and traditional broadcasts, news web sites need to invite readers to look at “what’s inside” or what’s coming.
      • News summaries placed on the front page
      • Sidebars down one side of the web page
      • Teaser videos
  • 7. Writing in layers
    • Headlines and summaries on the web should also be navigation tools, leading readers to inside content.
    Headlines, photos, and summaries on this news web site from the British Broadcasting Co. lead to content on “inside” pages. Clicking on the photo brings up a larger version. Clicking on headlines and summaries takes the reader to the full story.
  • 8. Use standard writing rules
    • Readers are in a hurry.
      • Use inverted pyramid for news stories
      • Use active voice
      • Use strong verbs
      • Use summary leads
      • Write “tight”
      • Use a punchy attention-grabbing headline
      • Readers want facts and objectivity , not puffery.
  • 9. Make use of microcontent
    • Small easily digested chunks of information
      • headlines
      • blurbs
      • Summaries
      • captions
      • lift-out quotes
      • subheadings
      • bullet lists
  • 10. Photos, multimedia, hypertext
    • It’s all about hypertext linkage.
      • Earlier stories
      • Documents
      • Discussions
      • Images
      • Data bases
      • Multimedia presentations
    • These are all tools in helping to tell the story to aid in the reader’s understanding.
  • 11. Photos, multimedia, hypertext
    • The web editor may also want to include:
      • Text menus
      • Lists
      • Summaries
      • Word balloons
      • Photo captions
      • Narrations
  • 12. Flash presentations
    • Aid in story telling by combining all elements into a type of “movie”
    • Most news sites incorporate some sort of flash multimedia.
  • 13. “ Writing to the visuals”
    • The simplest multimedia presentations are slide shows with captions, transitional texts and scripted narration.
    • This writing may be the job of the reporter or it could fall to the photographer. Convergence is the name of the game.