Writing and Digital Media  for journalists

Writing and Digital Media for journalists

I have a particular interest in Journalism and have focused my blog around the increasingly digital world of journalism. This class has helped me to explore and gain a better understanding of the increasingly digital world of journalism. There have been some major themes throughout the semester that I believe can be applied to online news stories. Now, more than ever it is important for journalists to be aware of the materials available to them and utilize them.

Useful Advice

Journalists need to stick to the facts and keep articles short and simple because online readers now skim instead of reading the whole page.
 William Zinsser: Keep it simple and avoid clutter. This is more important than ever when writing for the internet because there are so many distractions.

It is important to stick to certain learned cultural expectations.

Don Norman: Cultural constraints are learned conventions that are shared by a cultural group.

For example, in a story that includes an image but the text should stay the main focus, the picture should be medium to small and placed at the top to the right after the text. We expect to read from right to left and journalists should take advantage of this cultural constraint to maximize the effectiveness of their news stories.

Different materials equals a different approach. Writing for the internet is different because the materials are different; there is text, images, video, sound, hyperlinks, links, etc.

Anne Wysocki:

  • A need to focus on the specific materiality of the text we give each other

It is important to assemble the materials together to form a serial composition.

Geoffrey Sirc: Writing as a non-symbolic approach, focusing on the materials involved and their basic composition.

This class, Writing and Digital Media, was not designed specifically for journalists; one of the best things about this semester was the freedom to apply the techniques learned to a certain area of interest. The reason this class perfectly applied to journalism because journalism is currently transitioning into an all digital industry. Anyone that wants to pursue journalism as a career needs to understand how to write for digital media.


Journalists Utilizing Facebook

The new Facebook audience. Everybody.

The new Facebook audience. Everybody.

Just thinking about the black hole that is Facebook makes me want to hop on my laptop and see what’s new on my friends pages.  However, it can also be a great way to market yourself; journalists are quickly learning how to use Facebook effectively and take advantage of this popular forum.

Facebook staff is eager to help journalists utilize their productand offers a page for journalists that helps them make the best use of the social media tools available to them. Vadim Lavrusik, journalism program manager at Facebook, gave fourteen tips for journalists on Facebook. Some of the tips such as secure your account or have Facebook on your mobile phone are common sense, but the tips to use a personal voice and engage followers in conversation are great advice. People want interactivity when they read news on the internet. They enjoy feeling like it is a conversation between the writer and other readers.

The biggest problem with getting news on Facebook is the reliability. It is hard to know exactly who is writing what and if it is true. Washington Post copy editor Phillip Blanchard expresses his concern that, “”Facebook is great for ‘social networking’ but not terribly useful as a journalistic tool…People aren’t always who they seem to be. For example, you can’t even be sure who I am… Verification is very important in journalism, which apparently is being forgotten a lot, or never learned.”

Since verification is a seemingly inherent problem,  the best use for Facebook is networking. It is a good way for journalists to present themselves to the public as a real person, not just a talking head. They can friend other writers or editors and be able to ask them for advice and create more business contacts. It is unlikely that Facebook will become the new go to for the news, but it is a great place to learn a little more about the people who are writing it.

See Through Glass

Google Glass

Google Glass

Journalism has been adapting to smart phones, social media, and quickening pace of breaking news. People want to know the story while it is happening instead of hours or even days later. Google is getting close to unleashing a new device that will cause even more change. Google Glass is on the way and it will change the already evolving news industry.

Glass gives users the ability to record events from their point of view, and these recordings will give viewers a first hand look at the action. What a powerful tool for journalists. While the journalists themselves will potentially be prohibited from wearing their google glass in some situations, it will still be possible to send in “citizen journalists” to capture the event.

It is already common to see viewer taken pictures of big events such as natural disasters or acts of terrorism. However, Glass will give audiences a first person view of what is going on. It is also super easy to capture a video, which could turn us all into videojournalists.

My big concern is privacy. How will I know if someone is recording me? Some believe that Google Glas will cause us as a society to become more detached from each other. I would certainly be more reserved with my behavior if I suspected I was being recorded. Think reality TV but all the time.

star_trek_jordyI think Google Glass is a good thing and just the first step in this new direction. After cell phones, it was only a matter of time before something like Glass. They are a little clunky and remind me of Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge, but I am confident that they will become sleeker in no time. I’m anxious to try them out.

Mobile News

Hsyndicate- News

Hsyndicate- News

While following the reports on the Boston Bombings, I could not help but be intrigued by the amount of footage that was sent in by viewers. People close to the action still ran for cover but while doing so they pulled out their cell phones and recorded what was happening. Instant live footage is not the only addition to the industry of journalism: It is also common for people to look to their cellphones for the latest headline. I have the CNN app on my phone and it alerts me when there is breaking news. It is even more popular to view the news on a laptop or tablet. My curiosity inspired me to read up on mobile devices and the news.

Mobile Devices and News Consumption

The Pew Research Center published “Mobile Devices and News Consumption: Some Good Signs for Journalism”
They claim that News is a big part of what people do on their mobile devices.

State of the Media

State of the Media

A growing number of Americans are becoming multi-platform digital news consumers. I view the news on both my phone and my laptop. I was comforted to read that the reputation of the news organization played a larger part in where people go for the news. With Facebook and Twitter becoming popular for breaking news, it is good that most people can differentiate between reliable and unreliable sources.

How is this useful?
While writing this, I started to ask myself what does this mean for the news industry. It is possible to apply just about every text we have read so far to this question. So, I am going to follow the advice of William Zinsser and keep it simple and clear. It changes just about everything. Different materials means a different approach. The world of news media has to adapt to the increasingly popular digital platform.