Class Notes: Writing for Digital

Key Ingredients to SUCCESSFUL digital journalism:

  • Ability to tell a story
  • Summarizing, quick/succinct pieces
  • Providing context
  • Being thorough and comprehensive
  • Understanding all multimedia elements
  • Engagement and interactivity with users
  • Developing content initiatives that go beyond the norm


Traits of a Digital Journalist

  • Develop strong writing skills
  • Understand how stories are told on multiple multimedia platforms
  • Be flexible, confident, adaptable, versatile
  • Be able to find, create and understand complex data sets
  • Be different, access the competition and grow


Keys to being an INNOVATIVE digital journalist

  • Think critically
  • Appreciate new ideas and technology
  • Innovate/teach/connect/relate
  • Be mobile


Elements of News  (These should NEVER change, no matter what medium you’re reporting on.)

  • Timeliness
  • Proximity
  • Impact
  • Magnitude
  • Prominence
  • Conflict
  • Novelty
  • Emotional Appeal


Writing Tips

  • Inverted pyramid
  • Who, what, where, when, why and how still apply with digital journalism
  • Short and sweet – no more than 500 words on average, many times 250-400 words if you have multimedia elements, sometimes less
  • Quick, punchy and to the point, concise and exact
  • Attribution and sourcing still applies


Tips for writing: mobile

  • Focus on what users actually need on the move
  • Cut ruthlessly – but stay instantly understandable
  • Don’t forget SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Make a user’s journey thorough – Related links * Commenting * Sharing * Hyperlinks
  • Keep the content self contained
  • Don’t relay on design, but adapt to it when possible – Headline length, caption length, etc.
  • Put a connection/link to your full site on every page (If you don’t have a main site, then create a URL to dub content for sharing purposes)


Understanding your audience

  • Know your core demographic (your niche, the people you’re trying to reach most) before you begin reporting
  • Plan your content around the people who are reading your content the most.
  • Is there room for more content that covers a broader range? Of course.


Measuring your audience reception

  • Analytics:
  • Comments/User Feedback – email, social and the platforms themselves
  • Sharing via email, facebook, twitter, etc
  • For mobile: conversion rates, daily active users vs. total clicks vs. total sessions


*REMEMBER: Your first impression could be your ONLY impression*