Short notes for online journalists
In the last decade the world has witnessed a stupendous growth of internet users due to the proliferation of cyber media. As of today, most of the leading newspapers and magazines have their online versions for more reachability, and this further enhances the brand of the respective media houses along with the business. Besides, there are hundreds of sites that exist only on the Internet. Hence, to meet the demand of the online reporting thousands of journalists (either trained or not) are servicing in this field.
To report in fair and precise some principles are to be discussed in this article. There are some basic rules pertaining to this online journalism especially from a journalist’s point of view while reporting online. The media has emerged up for the busy people mostly, and for its global reach just with the help of a click. While reporting online an online reporter should abide by the following rules:
The news story has to be short and precise if it has to sustain the browser’s attention. A story that runs into two or more screens is not likely to hold readers attention for long. Word count continues to be an important yardstick in the case of net. The internet reporter must keep this fact in mind while writing the story. He must ensure that it runs across the minimum number of screens in the format chosen by the site editors.
The Internet reporter must adopt the inverted pyramid format. It is the most rational storytelling format. The most crucial point is hosted, right on top of the story, the less important points follow. This saves the user the need to plough through to the last paragraph to find out what happened. The information is available in the first few paragraphs; with facts arranged in their decreasing order of importance.
The story must be updated as it breaks. The reporter cannot sit back and wait for events to unfold.
The reporters writing for web media must learn to write short sentences using simple, common, everyday words that a browser will have no difficulty in understanding. Paragraphs should be short. Long paragraphs create fatigue and push browsers to reach for the mouse.
The Internet reporter must develop the ability to break a story into short, fascinating side stories. The side stories enhance browser’s interest, and give more hits and clicks for the site.
The net journalist must go through log reports carefully. He must understand which stories are being read on the net. This will help him work on stories that are likely to be read more. Successful sites are those that share browser behavior with their staff members.
The web journalist must understand that a mistake, even if it is corrected after it is omnipresent on the site, does not offer much comfort to the individual or the company that has already suffered loss of face on account of the error. A mistake will be deemed as a blunder in case of incorrect information.
The first and foremost precondition for internet editing is economy. A story must be reported inks few words as possible. The sentences should be short, easy to read and understand. There are 11golden rules that are prominent for editing in print. All these rules are invariably crucial for editing on the net. Let us give a glimpse.- Use short sentences.- Avoid modifiers.- Substitute wordy phrases with simple small words.- Remove relative clauses.- Avoid starting a sentence with a subsidiary clause.- One sentence, one idea.- Use active voice.- Delete clichés.- Proper synchronization of names and designations.- Simple, short and familiar words.- Avoid abstractions.
There are five unique areas where online journalism is unique or different from its traditional counterpart “print”. The five areas are follows: - News Cycle- Updating Frequency- Packaging- Knowledge Links- News Vehicles. To maintain such uniqueness if the net reporters follow the discussed principles all the stakeholders will be able to derive benefits I think.
Reporting, writing and editing for cyber media is an art so as a science, where creative faculty has to submerge with the rational one. A proper style, along with the proportional amalgamation of traditional doctrine” the inverted pyramid” and the latest technique “search engine optimization” (Search engine optimization is the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.) could take this media into zenith.
Md. Mamun Uddin
Department of Journalism and Media Studies
Manarat International University, Dhaka