Journalism Primer (Preview)

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Well, skills matter. The skills you’ll learn here will take you far in any career, but are specifically tailored to journalism. Going into this class, I will assume you have had some exposure to journalistic theory and practice. Even if your exposure is limited to the morning newspaper, you will have some understanding, so long as you can critically think about how newspaper articles are written.

The focus of this course is to teach you the fundamentals of how writing for the web differs from feature stories in Time or Newsweek. Further, I hope to convey to you the benefit from many points of view of the multimedia “extras” online news sites offer. Even USA Today’s infographics pack more punch online that they do in print. Online editors often enhance a story by adding audio supplements or relevant links to their sites.

In addition to the essentials of writing and developing a good sense to enhance an online story, several other topics are worth discussing:


What is a good link? How do you know? Is it reputable? Does the link convey the message of the story? Does it help sell a story, or promote it?


Ok, so you found a cool link. Most of the time a link is just a link. People have become savvy enough to know that clicking a link that leads to something different that it IS indeed something different. If the linked material appears close to your own, it is wise to provide some sort of disclaimer.


Who believes everything they see on the Web? Or on television? Or even in newspaper? Be sure you link to, or are referencing, valid sources.

Other Considerations

Is the Web influencing traditional forms of media?

What kind of resources are needed to produced enhanced stories?

Blogs and other forms of online communities are flourishing. How might these sites influence online news?

From Wikipedia

(Who can tell me something about using this material?)

“Journalism is a discipline of collecting, verifying, analyzing and presenting information gathered regarding current events, including trends, issues and people. Those who practice journalism are known as journalists.

News-oriented journalism often is described as the “first draft of history.” Even though journalists often write news articles to a deadline, news media usually edit and proofread the results prior to publication.

An early leader was The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina. Steve Yelvington wrote on the Poynter Institute Web site that NandO, owned by The N&O, “Nando evolved into the first serious, professional news site on the World Wide Web — long before CNN, MSNBC, and other followers.” It originated in the early 1990s as “NandO Land”.

Many news organizations based in other media also distribute news online, but how much they use the new medium varies. Some news organizations use the Web exclusively or as a primary outlet for their content.

The Internet challenges traditional news organizations in several ways. Newspapers may lose classified advertising to websites, which are often targeted by interest instead of geography. These organizations are concerned about real and perceived loss of viewers and circulation to the Internet.”

Back to: Intro to Online Journalism