Acceleration; diversity and inclusion

Reading: Writing for the Mass Media, chapter 10

Acceleration; Diversity and inclusion

The web demands information. The audience for the web demands it quickly.

Readers scan information looking for what they want or something that is interesting:

Jakob Neilsen: Readers are lazy, selfish, and ruthless.

The technical aspects of the web mean that information can (must) be posted immediately. Journalists have to speed up their normal processes of information gather and verification and of writing and editing. They are looking over their shoulders at other people/sites that might be posting the same information. They want to be right — but they also want to be first.

The Nutshell

Because of these demands, journalists need to learn to write information quickly in a form that web users will accept and appreciate. This week, we’ll be looking at such a form, and during the next couple of weeks, we will be learning the various elements of that form and why they are suitable to we web.

We’re call this form the nutshell.

The Nutshell is the standardized form currently in use by the Tennessee Journalist <> for getting news and information on the site quickly. It consists of the following:

  • headline
  • summary
  • lead paragraph – who, what, when, where and the most important piece of information
  • three bullet points about the story – preferably in complete sentences (Check out CNN news story pages for examples.)
  • explanatory paragraph after the bullet points (optional)

Concepts governing Nutshell

The purpose of the nutshell form is to help journalists do their job in delivery accurate, useful information to their audience. Consequently, the first principle:

  • Gather accurate information. Accuracy is always the first priority.
  • As a practical matter, much of what the journalist must do in covering an event can be done BEFORE the event occurs.

This is an important principle that students should have firmly in mind. With many story, you will know what’s going to happen, when and where it will happen and who the major characters are. Journalists help themselves by doing everything they can do before the event occurs.

These actions may include

— setting up the page

— writing the headline (you can/should/will change it later)

— writing the summary (you can change that, too)

— finding and putting in the links you want to use

— finding the pictures/audio/video and any other sidebar material that’s relevant

  • Prepare to take pictures of the event

We have not covered concepts of photojournalism yet in this course. We will do so in a few weeks, but it would not hurt to become familiar with how to work your digital camera now. Figure out how to quickly download photos, edit them and upload the pictures to the server.

  • Write as the event occurs.
  • Post as the event occurs, if possible.
  • Plan to write a full story immediately after you have taken these other actions.


Diversity and inclusion

The concepts of diversity and inclusion are important because we live in an increasingly diverse society. As journalists, we try to report and interpret the things that are happening in that society to a larger audience. Journalists should recognize their own biases and tendencies toward stereotyping (we all have them). They must realize that people from different regions, cultures, religious backgrounds, ethnic groups and interest groups deserve our attention and sympathy. Those people — the “others,” those who are different somehow — have a point of view that is as significant and as legitimate as ours.



HTML is a language for describing web pages.
* HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language
* HTML is not a programming language, it is a markup language
* A markup language is a set of markup tags
* HTML uses markup tags to describe web pages


Cascading style sheets


Content management system – the software that controls blogs multi-user web sites

Writing tip from Roy Peter Clark

Roy Peter Clark is a writing teacher for the Poynter Institute. He has produced 50 audio pods of his favorite writing tips (available at iTunes U), and here is #3, Activate Your Verbs (1:48):


The Tennessee Journalist (

Before we go further with our discussion about writing for the web, you need to know more about the Tennessee Journalist, the news web site of the School of Journalism and Electronic Media at the University of Tennessee.

  • purpose – allows students a place to learn and practice web journalism
  • structure and operation
    — part of the curriculum of the School of Journalism and Electronic Media (not student media)
    — operated by a student staff
    — available for a variety of purposes to all students and classes
  • getting connected
    — chances are you have already logged on to the TNJN server and worked with the story panel. If not, here are instructions.
  • Intercollegiate Online News Network (ICONN)
    — national organization of online journalism students and educators
    — network of campus news web sites
    — join the Facebook group



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