Writing for the Internet

Typewriter and Apple Ipad
Writing for the Digital Age

It’s the new digital age and we don’t depend on newsagents to give us our daily scoop anymore, or the kid on the bike who threw us the daily broadsheet.

Nope! Now we depend on online articles, viral marketing and ubiquitous social media. The meaning of journalism has changed ever since noise went digital.

As a student of journalism, I’ve had to pick up a few tricks and tips of this evolving media age.

The big question looms: where is journalism going? The answer has been found in many historical anecdotes, most recently, in newspapers having to get rid of their columnists and permanent writers simply because they couldn’t afford them. Click here for a recent example.

Many writers, reviewers in particular, are surviving from freelance work more than ever and compete against pretty much anyone who has a laptop, internet access and the means to publish their thoughts through a blog such as wordpress or tumblr.

Mobile phone devices and social media apps have allowed people to keep abreast of real-time and, often customised, news and blog platforms, major tabloids and news publications have formatted articles to cover these forms of digital mediums: iPhones, smart phones, tablets, and the like.

Yet the way we read paper form news, either from a magazine or newspapers, is very different from how we read online news.

There are large books and expensive courses that train writers on the best tactics for writing online. Here I’ve listed a few ways most bloggers and journalists write online, which, you may notice, is dissimilar from the way tabloid newspapers present their news.

  • From the get go, the writing has to be simple and direct but doesn’t plunge in too deep.
  •  Say more with less.Writing should be persuasive. Use adequate examples where needed and leave out flourishes.
  • Persuasive writing also includes voice, tone and general flow. Ensure you know at the outset what you’re trying to achieve with the piece and be wary of how you will argue your case.
  • Besides the usual grammar and spelling corrections writers have to ensure their main point is expressed clearly and commit to exploring whatever they set out to explain in the title.
  • Your title should be engaging  and – ideally – no more than five to seven words.
  • One thing you must also remember is that readers scan online information so bold and relevant keywords are a must as well.
  • The shorter, the better. It is recommended to limit the word count to 500 -800.
  • Paragraphs are  reduced to one to two sentences so forget whatever you were taught at GCSE.
  • Online writers need to give the reader want they want but also balance out their view with objectivism by proving to the reader that they are fully aware of the controversial side of their argument.
  • Present layers of information from paragraph to paragraph and build up as the reader gets towards the conclusion.
  • Add catchy lists and bullet points where possible.

And lastly, take advantage of online media. Winning pieces are those that are embedded with interactive features: images, videos, audio samples, sharing tabs, and related links, for readers to find more information about your subject. This is perhaps the down side to paper form news as they don’t have the same real-time interactive feature, yet they do have more word count. Damn it!

Written by Mary Grace Nguyen (Chief – Editor of Flock To The Crown) Read her blog , LDNCard blog and follow her on Twitter

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