A random selection of articles on the art (or more accurately, the craft) of writing for the web:
Why I blog by Andrew Sullivan | The Atlantic (November 2008)
My life in the blogosphere by Ben Smith | BuzzFeed
In Defense of the Listicle by David Leonhardt | New York Times
How to make journalism work online: five writing tips by me | Press Gazette
Beyond the churn by Sarah Smarsh | Aeon
New Associated Press guidelines: keep it brief by Paul Farhi | Washington Post
Quartz’s Kevin Delaney: Time to kill the 800-word article by Brian Morrissey | Digiday
The allure of the finishable news experience by Sarah Marshall | NiemanLab
64 Ways To Think About a News Homepage by Melody Joy Kramer | Medium
The homepage is dead, and the social web has won by Zachary M Seward | Quartz
Homepage as front page is an historical accident by me | Guardian Media Network
For observers of digital media two things stood out in Alan Rusbridger’s valedictory column in Saturday’s Guardian. The first was more obvious, the second more interesting.
1. On paywalls
The outgoing editor compares what he calls the “polar opposites” of the UK newspaper trade – the paywalled Times and the free-to-air Guardian. The Times, he notes, claims a daily audience of 281,000 while the Guardian registers 7 million unique browsers a day.
On an equal accounting basis, we’re losing (or investing) about the same amount of money. You’ll have to come back in 10 or even 20 years time to find out who judged the future best.
While he’s right to say it will take a while for the winning formula to be identified – and it may well be neither of the above – I wonder if The Times accept the phrase “equal accounting basis”.
2. On newspaper formats
Today’s discussions about publishing formats are most likely to involve 6in smartphones and 10in tablets but back in 2005 format meant broadsheet, tabloid or – in the case of the Guardian – the mid-sized Berliner. Why did the Guardian go for the third option when The Times and The Independent went tabloid? Rusbridger says there were “various reasons”. Intriguingly, one of those reasons was:
the amount of classified advertising we still took in print at that point
With the benefit of hindsight, print classifieds were already in terminal decline by 2005 with job boards, Craigslist, eBay and others making deep in-roads. Signs of digital disintermediation were evident everywhere. The chunky Monday Guardian, bulked out by media job ads that made it a default purchase for those us in the industry, was already thinning out.
Should the Guardian have read the signals better a decade ago? Perhaps. Will we continue to miss emerging trends likely to have a similar impact? Probably.
Together with the team at Slack Communications, we’ve been working on a series of ‘how to’-style articles aimed at marketers, PRs and assorted comms professionals, including those that have to commission or create stuff (aka content) for a living.
Here are some links to the series so far:
Some of the most thought-provoking things I’ve read over the last few months on journalism, digital and writing for the web. (Oh, and a couple of pieces from me as well).
These are the workshops I’m running in London over the next few months:
Friday 24 April 2015 | Frontline Club |
Mastering Social Media with Jon Bernstein | Find out more
Thursday 7 May 2015 | DigitalFWD |
Mastering Social Media for Marcoms | Find out more
Wednesday 13 May 2015 | DigitalFWD |
Writing for the web: the insider’s guide for content marketers | Find out more
Friday 5 June 2015 | Frontline Club |
Writing for the Web with Jon Bernstein | Find out more
I also run bespoke courses. Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.