LSJ class meet Chris Wheal

 

I recently started a Postgraduate Course at the London School of Journalism, in London.
Lsj class
My LSJ class

Over the past few weeks I’ve been introduced into a new whole world, in just one month I learned much more then I could have expected.

Last week, for example, my LSJ colleagues and I took our first lesson about online publishing platforms with Chris Wheal, journalist, writer and editor.

Subject, I have to admit, I know really a little about.

Chris introduced himself, showing us all the online platforms where we could find him to learn something more about his profession.

Aim of the lecture was to introduce us to the concept of online journalism, starting from the differences with the traditional one.

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It’s a really frenetic world, as through social media it takes really a few seconds for information to circulate. Chris demonstrated it in a funny way: he recorded the class waving at him then he put the video on Youtube.

And there we were, online, waving at the world.

After a quick look through the most important online platforms, Chris started to explain how online journalism works and which challenges it involves.

In the first place, anyone can read anything on the web, so you don’t have a target audience, you can’t focus on a particular type of reader.

universal

It has to be universal.

Moreover, as the competition is really high and several others sources are offered, you need to gain user attention as fast as possible.

As Jakob Nielsen’s research has shown, web readers scan pages rather then read word for word, so you have to be specific and clear, getting to the point within 10 seconds.

In this regard, as Chris said during the lecture, it is suggested to:

  • Highlight keywords;
  • use bullet points and short sentences;
  • write half as much as for print;
  • personalise text, using “you” and “we”rather than the third person;
  • give real examples and case studies;
  • break up text;
  • use the inverted pyramid style, starting with the conclusion.

Last but not least, it is a good rule to use links and hyperlinks. Not just to give more information, but also to help search engines finding your page.

Search engines report in fact which pages link with others, so using links to and from your pages is really useful (the index of linked pages is regularly updated).

Basically, the main challenge is to catch user attention and make them stay on the page and keep reading. Not quite easy, but can be done.

As a start, I’d better introduce myself to the online world. I think I will start with Linkedin.