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Editing Online News


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

Published in: News & Politics
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Editing Online News

  1. 1. Editing Online Stories “ Inverted Pyramid 2.0” Ryan Thornburg University of North Carolina [email_address] Carroll 219 919-962-4080
  2. 2. What’s Different Online? <ul><li>Headlines </li></ul><ul><li>Homepage Blurbs & Packages </li></ul><ul><li>Sidebar Links </li></ul><ul><li>Inline Links </li></ul><ul><li>Story Structure </li></ul>
  3. 3. Elements to Consider <ul><li>Search Engine Optimization </li></ul><ul><li>People Don’t Read, They Scan </li></ul><ul><li>Every Page Is a Homepage </li></ul><ul><li>Inverted Pyramid 2.0 </li></ul><ul><li>Trust </li></ul>
  4. 4. An Example … <ul><li>U.S. News & World Report </li></ul><ul><li>MSN Money </li></ul>
  5. 5. Content Is King Because Editors Don’t Control Layout <ul><li>Browser Penetration: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>44% Firefox </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>26% IE 7 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>20% IE 6 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>4% Chrome </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3% Safari </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Content Is King Because Editors Don’t Control Layout <ul><li>Screen Resolution: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>38% greater than 1024 x 768 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>48% 1024 x 768 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>8% 800 x 600 </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Content Is King Because Editors Don’t Control Layout <ul><li>Operating Systems: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>71% Windows XP </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>17% Windows Vista </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>5% Macintosh OS X </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>4% Linux </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Headlines
  9. 9. Headline Editing for Searchers and Scanners <ul><li>Be Brief. Google and MSN display the first 8-10 words of your headline. Yahoo displays up to 16. </li></ul><ul><li>Make the first 3 words the most important, even if you have to write in passive voice </li></ul><ul><li>A headline is a label for the page. More emphasis on nouns. Less emphasis on verbs and adjectives. </li></ul><ul><li>Headlines must be able to stand on their own, without context of other page design elements. </li></ul><ul><li>Remember: Even when editing for an engine, a human still makes the click. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Headline Verb Tenses <ul><li>Simple Present Tense </li></ul><ul><li>Use When … </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Action Recently Completed: “Obama Signs Bill” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Habitual Action: “Santa Brings Joy” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>General Truths: “Happiness Is a Warm Puppy” </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Headline Verb Tenses <ul><li>Present Progressive Tense </li></ul><ul><li>Use When … </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Action Is Ongoing: “Weather Hampering Commute” or “Congress Voting on Bill” </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Headline Verb Tenses <ul><li>Simple Past </li></ul><ul><li>Use When … </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Past action only recently revealed: “Government Denied Benefits to Veterans” </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Headline Verb Tenses <ul><li>Present Progressive Tense </li></ul><ul><li>Use When … </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Action Is Ongoing: “Weather Hampering Commute” or “Congress Voting on Bill” </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Headline Verb Tenses <ul><li>Present Infinitive </li></ul><ul><li>Use When … </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Future action is almost certain: “Obama to Sign Bill Tuesday” </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Blurbs <ul><li>Blurbs ALWAYS promote the story. They SOMETIMES summarize it. </li></ul><ul><li>Blurbs are not leads. </li></ul><ul><li>Blurbs mimic a magazine TOC: </li></ul><ul><li>62 Parents Battle High Costs of College </li></ul><ul><li>This year’s freshman class will take out more </li></ul><ul><li> college loans than any group of college </li></ul><ul><li>students in history. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Blurbs <ul><li>Compare blurb and lead </li></ul><ul><li>After Iraq, the Battles Continue </li></ul><ul><li>Mixed martial arts star Brian Stann has a story that sells and an undefeated fighting record. </li></ul><ul><li>The War Is Over for Stann, But the Battles Continue </li></ul><ul><li>Before each fight, Brian Stann walks into the cage knowing that whatever happens, nothing will compare to the hell he survived in Iraq. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Headlines & Blurbs: Working Together <ul><li>From … </li></ul><ul><li>McCain Camp Says Obama Is ‘Playing the Race Card’ </li></ul><ul><li>The statement was in response to remarks Barack Obama made warning that Republicans would try to scare voters. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Writing Homepage Packages <ul><li>There are five elements of headline and blurb writing. </li></ul><ul><li>Heads </li></ul><ul><li>Blurbs </li></ul><ul><li>Links </li></ul><ul><li>Labels </li></ul><ul><li>Timestamps </li></ul>
  19. 19. Every Page a Homepage
  20. 20. Every Page A Homepage <ul><li>50% to 70% of visits start at article page </li></ul><ul><li>Serendipity … </li></ul><ul><li>… and Spiders </li></ul><ul><li>Low Click Rate </li></ul>
  21. 21. Editing Link Sets <ul><li>Group similar items together under a unifying label. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t write generic labels. Don’t be repetitive. </li></ul><ul><li>Limit lists to 3-5 links. </li></ul><ul><li>Do not mix links that are relevant to the story with links that promote unrelated content elsewhere on the site. </li></ul><ul><li>When writings link text, follow SEO headline tips. Keep them short and descriptive. </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid commands such as “Read More” or “Click Here” whenever possible. Remember: The User is in Control. The Editor is the Guide. </li></ul><ul><li>Links within the main text column are more likely to be clicked, even if they’re at the bottom. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Editing Inline Links <ul><li>People say that links within text are more annoying, but they are more likely to click on them than links on the side. </li></ul><ul><li>Link no more than three words in a row. </li></ul><ul><li>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) </li></ul>
  23. 23. Editing Inline Links <ul><li>Linked words should be selected because they describe the content to which they link. </li></ul><ul><li>Linked nouns often indicate the destination is an evergreen reference page. </li></ul><ul><li>Linked verbs often indicate either a visual of the action or a contemporary text account of the action. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Link Trust (or “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Wikipedia”)
  25. 25. Elements of Link Trust (a theory) <ul><li>Transparency </li></ul><ul><li>Empowerment </li></ul><ul><li>Community </li></ul>
  26. 26. Elements of Link Trust (a theory) <ul><li>Make sure links work </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Whose job is it? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Tell readers… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>When they are going offsite. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When they are going to a different media type, such as photos, video, audio, PDFs, or discussion boards. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When files are particularly large (>1 MB) </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. Elements of Link Trust (a theory) <ul><li>Links : online new :: Quotes : print news </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Show the direct words of another person. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Need to be put in context. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Need to have clear attribution. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You’re responsible (ethically, not legally) for inaccuracies. </li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. Editing Inline Links <ul><li>In the right context, links can provide humorous irony. </li></ul><ul><li>In the right context, links can serve as a narrative “reveal.” </li></ul>
  29. 29. Inverted Pyramid 2.0
  30. 30. Inverted Pyramid 2.0 <ul><li>News at the Top </li></ul><ul><li>Practice Sustainable Journalism </li></ul><ul><li>Choose Your Own Adventure </li></ul><ul><li>Related Content </li></ul>
  31. 31. Search Engine Optimization
  32. 32. SEO <ul><li>Paid Search Results </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Relevance of Search </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Popularity of Term </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Publisher’s Bid </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Organic Search Results </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Relevance of Search </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Popularity of Page </li></ul></ul>
  33. 33. Page Editing For Search Engine Optimization <ul><li>Avoid using images for text </li></ul><ul><li>Be Brief: Anywhere from 800-1,000 words </li></ul><ul><li>Be Focused: One topic per page. </li></ul><ul><li>Label: Use page headers and paragraph headers with keywords </li></ul><ul><li>Use Metadata </li></ul>
  34. 34. Meta What? <ul><li>Metadata: Data About the Data </li></ul><ul><ul><li><title> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li><description> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li><keyword> </li></ul></ul>
  35. 35. Metatag: <title> <ul><li>5-10 words; 70-80 characters </li></ul><ul><li>Unique for each page on your site </li></ul><ul><li>No Superlatives </li></ul><ul><li>No Prepositions, Conjunctions, Articles </li></ul>
  36. 36. Metatag: <description> <ul><li>Marketing: A Call to Action </li></ul><ul><li>Use Keywords </li></ul><ul><li>Who, What and Why </li></ul>
  37. 37. Metatag: <keyword> <ul><li>Be Brief: 10 keywords; 200 characters </li></ul><ul><li>Be Focused </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t Deceive </li></ul>
  38. 38. How do I know how searchers think? <ul><li> </li></ul>
  39. 39. SEO Is … <ul><li>A black art… </li></ul><ul><li>Always changing … </li></ul><ul><li>A battle of good vs. evil … </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>