Lessons learned while blogging

Whilst taking the subject Online Journalism at QUT I came across several problems attempting the assessment items but I’ll focus on the most recent, which was to create an online news story that would be published on this blog site.

Coincidentally three days before our story is due Elaine Ford, Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) Queensland online news producer, speaks to us at our last lecture.

Elaine told us there is no longer just a radio or TV or online journalist. No such thing exists anymore. The ABC produces across all mediums continuously and interchangeably, meaning all divisions must liaise with each other and the journalists to work out who has what information and schedule what platform will receive the story in what order.

She also informed us that what goes online is out there forever and whilst images, videos, social media and links may assist in telling a story, it is the words that are forever. Content is king. Elaine made the point that words still rule the web despite how many times we are told to include multi-media.

Susan Hetherington tweeted this during the lecture:

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The key point I find here is that just because we can, doesn’t always mean we should. We don’t get to decide the news, we tell the news and when an event or story comes along that isn’t exactly tailored for an online platform it doesn’t mean we don’t publish it simply because we don’t have a video or enough pictures. Or in the case of investigative stories not publishing a story because we don’t have enough related material already out there on the Internet.

Personally, I find a lot of links, pictures, polls, forms and interactive material within online stories quite distracting. As I’ve said before readers want the news, the raw facts. Whats the point of the story? What happened? I find it hard to find the answers to these questions when the story is buried beneath layers of multimedia.

When I read that we had to do an online news story and the examples given were from the Brisbane Times, Courier Mail and the Seattle Times I thought great…these stories have used pictures, videos, Google Maps and links to other articles as well as links for readers to send their story to the news organisation.

The examples from the aforementioned news sites are shown below. They use only one or two key online elements that really add to the story and one main picture.

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The story below only uses three Google Maps pictures.

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As many of our tutors and lectures work for the ABC, in addition to looking at the examples we were given, I looked at how the ABC format and present their online stories. I came up with my story idea and a layout that I thought would suit the story and feed the online readers wants and needs.

I did a hard news story about a pony club closure due to development and the Brisbane City Council’s lack of action to support the community group. I thought great I will include Google Maps of the land, my audio of my interview with the club members a ‘tell us your story’ section and links to the parties involved. And because it was quite a complex story and needed quite a lot of words to explain the situation in detail, I thought it would be most beneficial for the readers if I kept the ‘content as the king’ and just added a few simple photos etc to help tell the story.

However, after our tutorial I found out that because we were submitting our online news story via our blog site it needed to be more than just an online story, it had to utilise all the available links and tools imaginable that can be used on the blog site to help tell the story.

So as with my story I thought I could include the audio of my interview with the members of the pony club.

After watching two Youtube clips about how to embed audio files and after I had downloaded the software to turn my audio into an Mp3 file, the WordPress site told me this:

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So no I did not want to pay to upgrade my blog site just so I could include audio clips.

So the end result of my online news story is this.

I did find a great blog on WordPress called Lorelle on WordPress. It tells you everything you need to know about WordPress. But make sure you have a good half an hour to sink your teeth into it.

But if you have any quick WordPress tips for me…please fill me in!

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