WEEK 4: How do work conditions and approaches differ between a journalist working in an online
environment and those working in a more traditional broadcast or print setting?
While there are still some work conditions common to print media, broadcast and online news production, the gap is steadily widening. Material is gathered in the traditional manner, which is via media alerts; from doing the court, social, political or local government rounds, and from unexpected, breaking news on natural disasters or tragedies. The aim, where print news is concerned, is to meet deadlines (Conley, 166).
According to online Editor David Higgins however, there are ‘no deadlines’ for online news sites, due to the ‘regular updates and user generated opinion and comment’ feedbacks (Higgins, p.18, NOL 1).
In terms of news worthiness, Conley’s eight standard values still apply to both print and online news (Conley, p.42). And although the inverted pyramid is common to both print and online news, the basics of good writing is still a necessary component. Educators warn that the basics of grammar, story structure and quality journalism still matter to both the online and offline mediums and should never be ignored (Pryor, 2006).
Online news however, should not be a substitute of print news and according to John Pavlik, ‘the best news sites are those offering original material designed for the web,’ (Conley 2002, p.311). There is also an emphasis on the article layout and the
use of interactivity (NOL 1).
The web being an active and interactive medium, has users who are engaged and are often multitasking (Nielsen, 2008, NOL 6). Online writers then, are advised to write succinctly while avoiding padding of words and to structure the sentences in a short, concise and clear manner (Nielsen, 2008). Journalists are further advised to use the active voice as ‘it breathes life
into your story’ (Nielsen, 2008).
These sound measures may not however, be enough to meet the competing demands on the online readers’ time and their need for speedier access to essential information (NOL 6).
The Poynter Institute suggest rewriting headlines and captions to attract the eye’s focus into the story, as this may be the ‘first and only opportunity’ to capture the reader or user (NOL 5). Once the reader is engaged however, and despite reading ‘shallow and wide,’ the topics or articles are generally read in-depth (Stanford Poynter Research).
While the future of newspapers has editors concerned (Hirst & Harrison 2007, p. 93), online news readers increased a further 50 percent to 15 million Australian users in 2007 (Higgins, p.16). In heeding the aforementioned, industry experts’ advice, the online industry may yet continue to survive and expand.
Conley, David 2002, The Daily Miracle: An Introduction to Journalism 2E, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne
Higgins, David, Scooped by the net, The Walkley Magazine, Viewed March 2011 http://www.gnews.net.au/Walkley1.pdf
Hirst, Martin & Harrison, John 2007, Communication and New Media: From Broadcast to Narrowcast, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne
News On Line and Writing for the Web
Viewed March 2011
Nielsen, Jakob 2008, Writing Style for Print vs. Web
Viewed March 2011
Pryor, Larry 2006, Teaching the future of journalism in The Online Journalism Review
Viewed March 2011
Stanford Poynter Project Viewed March 2011 https://learning.secure.griffith.edu.au/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab=courses&url=/bin/common/course.pl?course_id=_96048_1&frame=top