— The journalist and the news organization can no longer afford to ignore the audience. Instead, they must be prepare to build, cultivate, engage and respond to the audience.
— People on the web have plenty of places to go besides your site. As Jakob Nielson says, visitors to a web site are “selfish, lazy and ruthless.”
— Audiences value what THEY think is important and interesting; they also want the opportunity to engage.
Journalism on the web, starting with just journalism
Teach the basics of journalism — reporting, writing, presentation; they’re much the same on the web as they are in any other medium, but there are important differences that you should introduce:
- lateral reporting
We are used to thinking of journalism in a certain form. If it’s a newspaper, it’s an inverted pyramid news story. If it’s television, it’s a 45-second package with video (or something). The web offers the flexibility to tell and expand a story in many ways. What pictures and images can be gathered for the story? Are there graphics that can be produced? Are there documents (PDFs) that need to be included? What are the links that are most important for this story?
Lateral reporting (excerpt from Writing for the Mass Media)
- backpack journalism
Backpack journalism is a reporting technique in which a reporter uses a variety of tools — computer, digital camera, voice recorder, video camera, etc. — to gether information for a story.
- web packages
An important consideration for the web journalist: what is the best way to present the information I have gathered.
A web package is the gathering together of a variety of formats (usually on a single web page, but not always) to tell a story. One element of the package is often the central part of the story, but readers should find it obvious and easy to find any part of the story they wish to read or look at.
An individual blog is a personal journal.
A group blog is a blog that has several contributors. The New York Times, for instance, has a number of group blogs:
Group blogs are common outside of journalism. For instance, Murderati, the group blog of a set of mystery novelists. Group blogs have a lot of power with an audience.
Introducing your students to web journalism
And don’t assume they have them already.
HTML, general concepts, a few specifics, such as linking tags, boldface, lists, etc.
web site — basics
- what it is
- what makes it up
- how it’s organized
- where it is
URL — uniform resource locator
networking — email and beyond, way beyond
gathering an audience — understanding the audience is an integral part of journalism now
You cannot practice web journalism without considering how you are going to interact with the audience.
THINK: communities of interest.