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Online Journalism

reflections on a changing medium

Tag Archives: writing

In this chapter, Richard Craig talks about how journalists are straying from the traditonal methods of news-reporting and varying their writing styles to fit the Web. Craig uses the phrase “way-new journalism” as coined by Josh Quittner, an editor, columnist, and former Wired staff writer. Way-new journalism is an updated take on jounalism, as opposed to “The New Journalism” of people like Truman Capote and Hunter S. Thompson that Tom Wolfe wrote about in the 1970s. This journalism isn’t just new, it’s way-new. It’s grounded in cyberspace, chock full of hypertext, and painted in pixels. With the new design and format options that the Web offers news outlets, journalism’s medium is undergoing an enormous transformation. It’s up to the journalists who produce the content for the newly developing medium to make sure that the message is customized to that medium.

For example, with so many tools at their disposal, online journalists must now decide how to present the news:

  • what should be represented photographically?
  • what should be represented graphically?
  • what should be represented in print?
  • what should be represented in video?
  • what should be represented using a slideshow?
  • what should be represented using an audio clip?

In order to make informed decsions about these things, it is important for journalists to be consumers of news as well as producers. To have experience with these different channels of news is to know something about the useability of them. Producers who are able to be critical consumers of the media are at an advantage.

Craig writes about the difference in language usage between print and online journalism.  I definitely find that it is true that the language, tone, and mood of most online journalism is more casual, off-beat and accessible. This may be because of the publish-then-filter idea. More news sources (from large news outlets like The Times to bloggers) are generating news faster, taking advantage of the fact that news reporting has become a process. Once a story is posted, it is not necessarily the final product. It can be altered or re-written accordingly once more information is uncovered. Another reason for this change in online journalism might deal with the degree of interaction that is built into the interfaces on which much of the news is displayed. News sources must use more colloquial, opinionated writing tactics in order to make the news more like a conversation than a one to many report. In order to capture and hold the interest of the public they successfully invite them into the conversation, encouraging active replies  through comments, trackbacks and so on (rather than the op-ed. page or the “letters to the editor” section). In this way, the nature of journalism is changing based on the social communication tools that are available to us.

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