What does a reporter’s job look like in the digital era? While all the qualities and skills of traditional reporting are needed in the online world, journalists in the digital world often have to go the extra mile.
When I was working for offline dailies, I just had to write a good story to feel like a king. The desk would edit it, find a great headline, a designer would make it look good. A photographer would give us some great pictures to go with it. The press would print it and agents would get it into the hands of the reader.
Nowadays, not only do I have to write a story, I usually have to publish and distribute it myself. The site I write for has a great set of readers, but I need to bring them back constantly while I find new readers. The faster, the better.
It means taking care of formatting, editing, writing a great headline, sourcing pictures, optimizing a story so that search engines can find it and distributing it across the Internet and mobile.
Formatting should improve a post’s readability online. Using simple techniques such as writing shorter sentences, being direct, using sub-headings and styling a post, a writer can present stories better.
Because new news room can seldom afford a separate desk, writers often have to edit the story themselves. Writers need to be fast but can’t screw up on accuracy. Thankfully, stories published online can be edited even after publishing.
Having a photograph or a picture makes a whole lot of difference to a post. There are many sources on the Internet like Flickr and now Getty Images (the image in this post for example) where you can free images.
Search engine optimization is also a skill that journalists and writers need to master. Trust me, it makes a whole lot of difference. It would be a shame if painfully written stories get buried on the Internet.
Finding the right audience and getting your content to them is also as important as writing the story. Sometimes stories go viral and you don’t have to worry about this. But most of the times, you need to carefully plan ways and places to distribute your content.
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