Monday, December 08, 2014

10 tips for what makes an absorbing online news article?

--> As journalists we must accept some truths.

In digital, YouTubers create incredible videos, citizen journalists present a case that learning journalism is redundant, whilst bloggers can beat their chest that they stopped a democratic nominee from running for US president.

When digital is remembered for its many characteristics, one key point is how it showed up traditional journalism to be found wanting. It’s almost not enough that you can now blog, podcast, be a videojournalist, social network and code, because that has become the norm.

So what separates a trained journalist from a citizen journalist? That’s a question worth debating. But in the meantime, what’s expected from you when you write an article for online.

Here’s ten tips.

1.     Anything can become a story, but inherent in the story must be its news worthiness. A story about cats in trees is a news story -– depending on the circumstances. Yet it may not carry as much newsworthiness as a crime story, a financial story, a health story, a legal story etc. The more topical and newsworthy the story, the more you make yourself an asset in the newsroom. Newsworthiness is also dependent on the audience.
2.     Events exists, stories are found and synthesised. There is a premium an editor attaches to a story constructed from primary sources, compared to  one which Ex- BBC Chief Pat Loughry refers to as “air conditioned journalism”. In the latter case, the story is a recycle of existing stories on the main news networks. If they already exist on mainstream news ask the question, ‘what value am I bringing to this existing story?’
3.     An air conditioned story, however, can be transformed by showing originality, finding a new angle and contacting your sources to move on the story. That also shows initiative.
4.     We can make the assumption that some bloggers, who have not trained as journalists, can write truly well, so what does the journalist offer in the writing form?  Answer: a comprehension of the conventions that make an article receptive to an audience. These conventions can generally be observed on BBC’s News online  or the HBR blog link.
5.     The conventions of writing online include an adherence to Jakob Nielsen’s rules (see Blackboard).
6.     Attribution separates an article from being an opinion piece. Opinion pieces have a place in journalism, but the bread and butter of journalism is ‘objective’ writing.
7.     Links matter and the quality of links matter too. Knowing what to link from in your text is a skill worth knowing. 
8.     Presentation is key. It provides the feeling of professionalism. Presentation involves some basic attributes and how a pro-looking news page looks. There is no fixed template, but the more relevant media play a role in supporting  the writing, the more appealing, often, the story looks.
9.     Demonstration of discussion in the crowd or colleagues. This may have little consequence until the journalist realises, in hindsight, they were not being self-reflexive enough – which will be illustrated on their log.
10.  Journalism is a cultural convention influenced by social conventions and literary styles that change over time. These conventions matter, but so does your individual style. Sometimes your own style requires being toned down; sometimes it doesn’t. It’s a matter of choice. Either way enjoy your writing and how you’ve learned to be critical of your work.

p.s and yes there are no links on this post :(