Saturday, March 29, 2008

The by product of a web site II

You're a writer, want to become a journalist, have film making in mind as a profession... could you think of blogger or put together a website?

First thing I say to friends, clients and students is do you have either?

Of course the world could do with more websites like it needs global warming.

There's enough, way enough you're saying, that phhrer another one.

But a couple of things.

Call it the long tail or the attraction of micro communities, someone somewhere might just knod their head sagely at your piece of artistry.

And then a friend/contact/lead you never had the day before is old news.

The ongoing debate, and it's still seething; some of the Masters students I lecture to, raise this as well - do you really need a web site? Do you really need to understand CSS and grid designs.

"I'm a journalist... I just wanna write".

There can, I believe be nothing more carthartic than having completed a degree and whilst gunning for that first job building something of yourself.

And, and if you're in the right place at the right time, and that's not chance by the way, but playing the numbers game, you might just impress that potential boss.

And with a whole load of tools on the web, you may not even want to go down the design/css route.

Tamer Al Mishal - a student last year, now a correspondent for the BBC in Gaza is one of my heroes for how to use your web site.

The purists may carp at some of the rawness and lack of design aesthetic here and there, but Tamer knew what he was doing and when you look at it you'll understand what I mean.

He uses the less accepted, but prevalent format of "tables" fo the build, but...

( This year we had online journalists getting deeper into CSS, SEO, RSS, and info architecture see London Outloud and London Alternative)

Apparently BBC bosses at Tamer's interview were so suitably impressed by his web knowledge, VJ skills, and rapidly changing media theory/ethics, and, and that he knew how to sell a story about himself ie PR.

It's shirked by traditionalists and the Brit cultural position is to play this down, but in a very noisy environment as today, you'll want to flag up something you're doing, even if it's a tiny weeny bit.



Cliff said...

David - Although I see your point about all the fuss with web design, CSS, et al, I can also understand why your students have an aversion to the notion of learning all of the technical aspects of coding for the web. TBH, Wordpress has removed the majority of the learning curve for those you teach regarding this topic.

Using a little photoshop and a basic understanding of CSS, your students will grasp what is needed to wrap their heads around Wordpress and how it can be modified. SEO is a no brainer with WP - add specific tags for each posting and publish - that's it. Very Zen like in its simplicity.

Am always willing to answer questions on this mate - I have settled on WP as the defacto app for myself or anyone I develop a site for.


Cliff Etzel - Solo Video Journalist
bluprojekt |

Dr David Dunkley Gyimah said...

Oh no, I would say they have an aversion..

I think you could drive an automatic car and never have to know about using a stick, but we do try and lift the bonnet.

Some courses don't need that curve at all. And despite the sites they build, they all have blogs which are WP/blogs or the likes.

We're not trying to turn them into designers, but it's important on our online course that we give them a good grounding.

I have a simple story for them.

You're one of ten students in line waiting to be interviewed for a post/job.

Invariably the ratio is 1 position attracting 100 applicants.

The one that gets the job is the one that can demonstrate the basics and that little bit more.

One of our students from China has just made the BBC's very competitve training scheme.

She's pretty sure she says that what clinched it was understanding the journey from A- B and not just the destination of what B had to offer.

It's horses for courses really and things like SEO which we might take granted have some currency in the new digital discourse.

Robot.txt, no follow tags, the heat H, Link building scannable text - at the very least they give some platform towards mashing up.

I wouldn't for one slight moment turn down the enormous benefits of using WP, but if I were a student, and I am in many ways, I wouldn't want to rule out that little bit more that might give me the edge.

In videojournalism for instance, that could be a basic use of AE and keyframing.

Like I said horse for courses.