Munir Umrani has been pointing to a lot of stuff about cross-cutting, cross-purposes, collaboration and competition between newspapers and blogs, journalists and bloggers and about journalists-turned-bloggers. No wonder he aptly calls himself The Blogging Journalist. I don’t want to elaborate on the debates or dos and don’ts, but the technical aspects of a newspaper journalist moving to online publishing interests me as a software professional. I have seen a couple of my writer friends who have stuck to the print format while writing online.
I have already talked about how Content Management Systems can be aptly used by newspapers when publishing online. However, this time I want to target the differences between an article published on paper and on the Web that a journalist has to be aware of.
Naturally, the first place to look for is the differences in the print and the Web media, differences between reading an article on paper and reading it online.
The biggest difference between the paper and the Web is what makes the online experience special – hyperlinks or just links, as they are called. Hyperlinks can provide a way of navigation to the reader, not just the website navigation, but within the article, across
- related articles
- articles by others on the same subject
This enables the article to provide a complete context on the subject to the reader. While reading one article, now the reader can jump to various other related articles or articles by others. Linking to articles by others writing on similar topics can help build relationships within the domains.
However, for this to happen, the journalist has to take explicit action to make sure that the information about external or internal references is provided in the article. In addition to linking to external articles, the journalist can build a thread or series of articles on a subject and provide all the links in a single place, which cannot be done on paper, for example OO Design Principles.
Another effective use is providing links to definitions on sites like Wikipedia to make the jargon or buzzwords more comprehensible to the reader.
Dialogue with the Reader
Usually an article is never an end, but start of a discussion and the total value of the article is gained through substantial discussions on the subject. In the print media, there is a lag between publishing of the article and feedback by the readers. Web’s interactivity enables the journalist to get engaged actively with the reader on the subject through discussions. This also helps in building a loyal readership.
Also, the Web can effectively increase the longevity of an article. Readers, other authors/journalists can refer to articles written in the past. Sometimes a couple of comments can resurrect an old article.
This is not about just using the WYSIWYG editors, but about realizing that there is technology used for publishing articles online. While the journalist might not have to know everything in detail, common knowledge will help in structuring the articles better. Other than the generic Web standards that might apply, the journalist should be aware of using technology for full benefit, like:
- tags (like Technorati tags)
- headings (H1, H2, …)
- image resizing for better performance
- providing multimedia (video, audio) sources along with the article
Along with the advantages there are some bad side effects of publishing online – mainly spam and copyright infringement. There are technologies and processes that can be used to avoid or minimize them. The journalist can familiarise with the basic information to fight against the evil.
Writing on Web is not very different from writing on the paper, just that some rules change.
Copyright Abhijit Nadgouda.