From the online editing sessions
A couple high points from the session with online editors (I've decided not to identify specifically who said what so as not to cast any particular operation in a false light):
- Was dismayed to hear one person in the audience, who said his company ran Web sites for TV, relay that what his meager staff does is more "triage" than editing. As for the TV stations, his summary: "They don't care about the facts; they just want it up."
- Interesting thought from one online editor who notes a difference in the way people who feel they have been wronged approach it when dealing with a Web vs. print story. In print, he says, people often would ask for a follow-up. But online, he gets people who say "change it now." Print publications with Web sites need to listen closely to this because the public clearly grasps that the Web has a greater capacity -- and therefore a greater responsibility -- to get it right, correct it quickly if it isn't right, and provide a clear path to such corrections. I've written before about how newspapers do poorly in using their online assets to promote credibility. Several of the panelists said their organizations were still debating whether to have an online corrections area. There should be no debate. The answer is yes.
- Headlines on the Web need to be direct, clear and specific. None of this journalese. Mayor nixes arena contract becomes Mayor decides against $90 million contract for new sports arena.
- Avoid puns in heds. Online readers don't want to be played with; they want to be led to what they need to know and be able to find it quickly without a decoder ring.
Finally, one panelist noted that he has noticed "the Web is changing the newspaper" when it comes to packaging, advancing stories and adopting a more conversational tone. This is a good thing.