Introducing your students to web journalism
Introduction to web journalism
- The web is the future of journalism.
News organizations see the day — very soon — when the web will be the centerpiece of what they do. Not print or over-the-air broadcasting. The good news is that the web is a relatively low-cost way of distributing information compared to printing presses and delivery trucks. The bad news is that the overall economics are not as lucrative. More bad news: news organizations haven’t figured out how to use the web to gain audiences. Many do not even understand what the web is about. (Unfortunately, that goes for many journalism schools, too.)
- Recent quote: “Going into newspapers is like being a cowboy on a dinosaur ranch.”
Unfair? Not really. Print is old and slow. The web is new and fast. Where would you want your students to be?
- Consider the web as a news medium. Is it a newspaper, a television station, a magazine or what?
A news web site is NOT a newspaper on a computer screen. It is NOT a television broadcast with text. It is something completely different. If you do not recognize that — if you persist in calling it a “web newspaper” — you do not understand the power of the web.
- What are the characteristics of the web that make it different: capacity, flexibility, immediacy, permanence, interactivity. See James Glen Stovall, Web Journalism: Pactice and Promise of a New Medium (Allyn and Bacon, 2003), chapter 1: “Logging on to the Web.”
- Two approaches to web journalism— an extension of the journalism we know
Because the web handles most of the forms of journalism with which we are familiar, we have assumed that we can simply put what we have done for print or broadcast onto a web site and it will be satisfactory. Publishers for more than a decade have been charmed by this idea, thinking it won’t cost them very much to have a web site. But, we are beginning to understand that this is not how the web works.
— OR something very different
The web demands a different kind of journalism with different rules, customs, protocols and considerations.
- The changing environment of news and information requires a new metaphor: News as conversation (rather than the old “news as product”).
See: Katie King, “Journalism as Conversation,” Nieman Reports
See also: Chris O’Brien, “What does ‘online first’ mean in your newsroom,” Knight Digital Media Center
- And teachers, hear this: What we need to be teaching our students is what we need to be doing ourselves: Facebook, Twitter, texting, etc.
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