10 THINGS EVERY ONLINE JOURNALIST SHOULD KNOW
This tutorial picks up where the last post about SEO and online video left off and lists essential terms every aspiring online journalist should know about their chosen career.
By definition, an online journalist is multi-skilled and works across video, text, audio and stills simultaneously, so it’s important that he or she is knowledgeable about online journalism as a whole.
1) Convergence Journalism
Convergence journalism is the term used to explain how journalists use digital technology to create and distribute content across a number of different digital platforms. It is now possible to produce text, video, audio and stills about the same story because skills and platforms have converged together.
2) Mojo Journalism
A ‘mojo journalist’ is a mobile reporter who writes and delivers stories on the move using smartphones, laptops and digital cameras.
HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language and it’s the computer language used for publishing online. An online journalist can publish content without knowing HTML, but it’s useful to have a basic understanding of how it works. To find out what HTML looks like, click on ‘View’ in a tool bar, then ‘Source’.
Very simply, the weird-looking computer language you will see is recognised by the browser, which reads the information contained within tag brackets that look like this <> and formats it into web pages. HTML can look very intimidating at first, but there are rules you can follow to make it less daunting. I suggest you have a hunt around online to find out more.
4) Social Media Marketing (SMM) AKA Social Media Optimisation (SMO)
This means how you distribute your story by posting links on social networks like Twitter and Facebook, or on social bookmarking and community sites (have a look at Digg, Delicious, Reddit and Stumbleupon).
5) Content Management Systems (CMS)
A content management system (CMS) is used by journalist to write, upload and edit content on a website. You log into a CMS and then either write or upload your story. There will be easy-to-use templates and structures in place for uploading text, video and audio without needing to use HTML (as I explained earlier, you don’t need to know HTML to produce and upload online content).
Hyperlinks allow us to click onto articles on the web, both within a site and/or on external websites. You won’t miss them because they’re often coloured or underlined. To create a hyperlink you simply copy and paste the URL (web address) onto the page you want to link to. Hyperlinks are often used by journalists to reveal the source of an element of their story.
Tags are data used to label and categorise your story. They can be used in blogs like WordPress and on social media platforms like YouTube (video hosting) and Soundcloud (audio hosting), and they help readers find your content online. Hashtags, which look like this #, are used before a word on Twitter and help readers find a tweet in that category.
A tag will help search engines find your content and is a vital SEO tool.
8) RSS feeds
RSS stands for Rich Site Summary (although it’s more commonly known as Really Simple Syndication) and means that the content of a website can be read anywhere. Most blogs have an RSS feed already built in. Journalists can also use RSS readers, which allow them to subscribe to a number of RSS feeds and read them in a single place. YouTube has a number of RSS feeds you can subscribe to, from an individual’s YouTube channel to the home page’s top-rated videos.
9) User Generated Content – Citizen Journalism
This is content written or filmed by a member of the public – known as a citizen journalist – and then uploaded for the public to see. Footage filmed on a smartphone often drives the narrative of a breaking TV news story about a major event in a public place, and in 2012, ITN Productions launched a YouTube channel called Truthloader (below) showcasing the work of citizen journalists from around the world.
10) Google Panda and Google Penguin
These are sophisticated devices created by Google to ensure that websites appearing high in search engines deserve to be there. Panda downgrades low-quality sites and rewards sites with quality content, while Penguin blocks sites that try to trick their way up the search engine ranking with sly techniques like stuffing their content with keywords or duplicating the same content across more than one web page.
Further reading: The Online Journalism Handbook (Bradshaw and Rohumaa)