Aiming for the heart

Differentiating between online, print and broadcast reporting is important. There are multiple factors that work online but not print or broadcast.

In Al Tompkin’s book, “Aim for the Heart: Write, Shoot, Report and Produce for TV and Multimedia,” the clear message is that online reporting is more interactive, driven by the reader and what the reader wants. There is a great point to be made there. One question that presents itself is: Will the growth of online journalism push for a more sensationalized version of the news due to competition?

The internet gives the journalist the ability to present an entire interactive package to viewers (photos, video and story with links), but the news industry needs to be careful how this plays out. Editors will be crucial to ensure that the news stories maintain their integrity and keep from editorializing. I am not certain if Tompkin meant to instigate this debate but one can’t help but notice.

One critique about this section is the absence of the editor. He talks about journalists and publishers, but not so much the editor and I wonder why.

One of the things that Tompkin says work online are images-images break up the clutter and draw in the reader. Another great tip is cutting out the excess of the story and to focus on the headline. A well selected headline increase searchability results of the story, which is something we constantly keep in mind when writing headlines.

Tompkin’s ability to break-down the difference between online and broadcast journalism in the chart is useful. There is a difference because the material online is interactive. The online traffic can drive the audience to the broadcast, but Tompkin states that the best place to break a story is online.

I was interested to learn that a pulitzer prize winning story ran in print several days after it ran online. This supports Tompkin’s argument that posting stories online will still have an impact even if it is ran in print several days later.   

The section about what works online and how video plays a role was useful when thinking about how video is incorporated into the online stories. The connectivity, commercial and online users watching silently remind a journalist and publisher that not everyone has high-speed internet, wants to watch commercials or watches where they should. Things to keep in mind!

One of the biggest takeaways from this book is that online journalism requires more work and time from the journalist. How does this impact the compensation for reporters?

Overall, Tompkin pulls relevant information and stories to use as examples. The lede comparison between the three news outlets regarding the story about the tractor-trailer is a great example and will be using that for reference. Tompkin’s book is also thought-provoking because he presents information that leads to questions about the current state of journalism and how certain things will impact the future, particularly job market and ethics.

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