Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Online Journalism

Online Journalism
Going through the process of designing a news web site as part of the learning requirements for Online Journalism, the task ahead is not only challenging, but also demanding skills in conceptualization, news sense, story consideration, and some coding to reap the unique benefits that comes exclusively with online news reporting.

For example, when writing news stories, consideration must be made on how to engage the readers' attention and understand their habits and needs. One such consideration may be to provide hyperlinks for extended readings in addition to guiding a sequence for reading. Slideshow, such as a pictorial presentation of news, is a good idea to provide 'news in pictures', with individual captions to explain the photos, so as not to allow ambiguity or misinterpretation.

News stories can have a summary lead to draw the interest of the audience, and the content of each piece of news should be independent from the need to read previous entries for background or complete story. Linear writing allows the reader to scroll down to make a complete reading without having to click on another page for the story. Headlines of news stories should convey the content with a straightforward approach rather than 'funny or cute'. HTML coding is another area that needs to be learnt so as to provide essential customization of web pages. In short, all that needs to be done is to:

  • Use hyperlinks to allow readers to extend reading if required
  • Combine linear and non linear storytelling
  • Give the audience choices, yet guiding them along a sequence of reading
  • Incorporate captions for individual photos in slideshow rather than simply throw together a bunch of interesting photos
  • Provide a good lead for each story to draw audience into reading further
  • Provide sufficient linear reading without requiring hypertext to other pages
  • Use meaningful headlines rather than the funky
  • Get familiar with HTML even if a web authoring software is available

For a sample web site that includes all the points mentioned above, visit News Beat.

Dube J (2003a) 'Online Storytelling Forms', Journalism.org - Journalism Tools, www.journalism.org/resources/tools/writing/lessons/storyteling.asp (Accessed April 15, 2004) pp.1-3.

Dube J (2003b) 'A Dozen Tips for Writing News Online', Journalism.org - Journalism Tools, www.journalism.org/resources/tols/writing/lessons/tips.asp (Accessed April 15, 2004) pp.1-3.

Ward M (2002) 'Chapter 6: Who's Afraid of HTML', Journalism Online. Focal Press Oxford: 150-163.

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