Writing for Print/Online Journalism

(Karl Hodge)

Today we had a seminar with Karl for Introduction to Digital Journalism. He began by introducing us to different styles of writing we should be using within Journalism. He used a PowerPoint presentation to take us all through step-by-step the stages and structure to writing like a journalist. I found this seminar really interesting and informative as it completely transformed my outlook and approach to writing in the style of a journalist. I now have the information to transform my writing and change what I am usually used to into the correct format for printed and online journalism.

SEMINAR NOTES:

  • One of the most important sessions.
  • Writing for online/print journalism.
  • Learning the structure of writing for journalism.
  • Methods of professional writing.
  • JAKOB NIELSEN (quote from late 90’s-2000’s)
  • “People rarely read web pages word by word; instead, they scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences.”

BASIC ARTICLE STRUCTURE FOR PRINT:

  • Head – also known as (line) (title)
  • Strap (stand first)
  • Byline
  • Body- (main body of text)
  • sub-heading (every 300-400 words)
  • Page length (1200-1600 words) (broadsheet)
  • Page length 150-1000 words (magazine)

BASIC ARTICLE STRUCTURE FOR ONLINE:

  • Head
  • Strap
  • Byline
  • Body
  • Page length 250-750 words (HALF or less than print)
  • Subheadings/Crossheadings are more frequent as much as every 50-100 words

ABOVE THE FOLD/BELOW THE FOLD – originates from people generally folding a magazine in half.

STRUCTURE

Notes on structure

Use the “Inverted Pyramid/Triangle” Structure

TOP:Most Newsworthy info Who? What? When? Where? How?

MIDDLE: Important details (Essential to fill story)

ONLINE WRITING STYLE

  • Use concise, simple language, avoid “marketing” jargon.
  • Speak to the reader. Be conversational
  • Use shorter sentences.
  • Make headings simple and descriptive.
  • Make content scannable.
  • Use third person narrative

SCANNABILITY

Because web users SCAN rather than READ you need to:

  • Grab the reader from the strap .
  • Use shorter paragraphs. ONE idea per paragraph.
  • Break up the copy with frequent, informative cross headers (usually bold)
  • Use block quotes | call outs | pull quotes
  • These demand extra foxus:
  • A “block quote” is a quote from a source in the middle of a copy.
  • A “call out” is a box containing a juicy snippet of the copy itself
  • Use lists and bulletpoints to make key points.

REMEMBER:

A conversational tone works well on the web- but don’t take it too far!

Read things out loud (test your writing)

Writing for the web task:

bit.ly/djwebwriting

Workshop task:

Using the guidelines discussed, research and produce a web copy about an evenmt that is currently in the news:

  • Starbucks tax break
  • Latest in Gary McKinnon extradition case
  • Accusations of racism at Serbia VS England
  • Is student life becoming more sexist

TIPS: 

PYRAMID STRUCTURE

CONCISE

BREAK IT UP

250-300 WORDS

REFLECTION:

I am quite looking forward to this task as I will be tackling it with my new found methods of writing for online/print as a journalist but slightly skeptical as it isn’t second nature to me as I will have to get used to this new style through practice and incorporate all techniques into my writing for journalism.

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