Writing for the web should be ‘magical’

Today was a successful day multimedia-wise. I attended writing for the web after free online tools to extend your story and both generated a lot of idea that I can’t wait to bring back to The Pendulum.

Leonard Penix talked about online journalism as the Harry Potter approach. I have never seen any of the Harry Potter movies or read of any of the books, so I will take his word that in the wizardry tale picture talk. We should mirror J.K. Rowling’s fictional word in our multimedia storytelling: our multimedia components should be  journalistic, but magical.

There is so much more we can do with the web that we shouldn’t make it resemble print, Penix said.

Interactivity is the web’s leverage over all other media. Crime maps can have roll over features; graphics can contain pop-ups. Multimedia stories rely on user navigation and motivation. So make the pictures speak. Give the graphics a spirit and life.

“Don’t miss the human element,” he advised. “The heart of the story.”

Penix predicted a future journalistic world where multimedia substitutes text rather than compliments it. A video will add more to the story rather than repeating information.

But in an effort to breath life into the sources and give statistics a comfortable, hip place to call home, print sales decline. This wouldn’t be as much of a problem if the parent print publication didn’t financially support the online version. We then see a ripple effect, where a decrease in revenue leads to a staff-cut and a staff-cut leads to less people doing more jobs. And multimedia is now not just the responsibility of those trained to use a camera and edit film. Therefore, print publications need to promote the website and work cooperatively, but not identically.


As a media history student, I questioned the preservation of the democratic function of newspapers if the number of newspaper publications declines. According to Penix the web has already erased numerous newspapers, leaving most towns with only one news organization disseminating information. He said that the increase in voices on the web counteracts the decrease in print. Still, he questioned the validity and credibility of some of the web voices. Therefore, the public needs to take responsibility in the matter and not only be sure to produce credible information, but to question information they receive.

While the session produced an unexpected conversation, I still enjoyed talking about the future of the web and its influence on journalism.


Fun Facts:

  • one-third of all cell phone users have accessed news via their mobile phones
  • 90 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds have cell phones
  • 95 percent of them have text
  • 93 percent of them take pictures with their phones
  • 65 percent of them go online
  • 42 percent of U.S. population has a twitter account

An even a more fun fact:

33 percent of the U.S. population checks their facebook account as soon as they wake-up, even before going to the bathroom.

“I don’t know what that means (about our society),” Penix said and then laughed.



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