Cyber Journalism – A Reality Check

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 Will you be online today? I will be there. Tell me your mail id……… will update you whenever you are on the way about the latest sensex, and Obama government’s ministerial berth. Nowadays I seldom get chance to read a newspaper….. Really I am indebted to internet vis-à-vis cyber media for getting information.

 This is an honest confession of a professional who has become fond of cyber media because of its speed, timeliness, proximity and uniqueness, the basic ingredients of journalism.

 In the last decade the world has witnessed a stupendous growth of internet users especially in the African, Arab and South-East Asian countries vis-à-vis the proliferation of cyber media. As of today, most of the leading newspapers and magazines have their online versions for more reach ability, and this further enhances the brand of the respective media houses along with the business.

 In this article I will make an attempt to give a basic idea about this new form of media, and a glimpse about the online journalism tools in the backdrop of the convergence concept.

Cyber Media – Definition

 Before going into intricacies let us discuss something about cyber media or internet media.

 Wiener used the term cybernetics, starting in 1948, to encompass a broad range of communications between humans, between humans and machines, and between machines themselves. Within the scope of cybernetics he included the transmission of messages, especially those that exert control; the likelihood of information to degrade as time and distance intervene; and especially the function of feedback between humans and all the systems with which they have contact (Wiener, 1954). The ancestry of cyber media begins with Wiener, who said, “To live effectively is to live with adequate information.”

 McLuhan (1964) separated “cool” media, which demand active participation and an “involvement in process” from “hot” media, like print, which come in complete packages and encourage passive consumption. In McLuhan’s thinking, roads and vehicles, money, and weapons are media, just as movies, books, and radio are. Media act as extensions of the human body, and electric media are extensions of the human nervous system.

 Cyber media doesn’t really exist yet. But it is rushing toward us. According to Mindy McAdams, cybermedia is vast quantities of electronic information stored in incremental form, with the increments able to be combined easily by any user into sequences and sets that suit his or her needs, without boundaries related to subject matter, original authors, or print-packaging conventions. 

Online Journalism

 From the cradle of cyber space the concept of Online Journalism evolved. Though Internet journalism is still evolving, but its contours are getting more sharply defined. Online journalists (read globally) are increasingly becoming aware of the need to develop a new phrase for the medium. The media itself understood that the internet cannot be treated as an extension of the print media despite numerous similarities between the two. There are many advantages of this new entrant in the media bandwagon where a story can be told in three different ways – in the text format, in audio mode, and as a video clip. The medium further demands that stories be communicated in different forms – as a news alert; as a wireless headline; and as well as written story on the net. The medium further calls for knowledge links, audio and video skills, and some latest skills that go far beyond traditional reporting and editing requirements.

New Horizons

 There are five unique areas where online journalism is different from its traditional counterpart “print”.

 The five areas are follows:

–  News Cycle

–  Updating Frequency

–  Packaging

–  Knowledge Links

–  News Vehicles

Principles of Online Reporting

 There are some basic rules pertaining to this online journalism especially from a journalist’s point of view while reporting online. The media has emerged up for the busy people mostly, and for its global reach just with the help of a click.

 While reporting online an online reporter should abide by the following rules:

–  The news story has to be short and precise if it has to sustain the browser’s attention. A story that runs into two or more screens is not likely to hold readers attention for long. Word count continues to be an important yardstick in the case of net. The internet reporter must keep this fact in mind while writing the story. He must ensure that it runs across the minimum number of screens in the format chosen by the site editors.

–  The Internet reporter must adopt the inverted pyramid format. It is the most rational storytelling format. The most crucial point is hosted, right on top of the story, the less important points follow. This saves the user the need to plough through to the last paragraph to find out what happened. The information is available in the first few paragraphs; with facts arranged in their decreasing order of importance.

– The story must be updated as it breaks. The reporter cannot sit back and wait for events to unfold.

–  The reporters writing for web media must learn to write short sentences using simple, common, everyday words that a browser will have no difficulty in understanding. Paragraphs should be short. Long paragraphs create fatigue and push browsers to reach for the mouse.

– The Internet reporter must develop the ability to break a story into short, fascinating side stories. The side stories enhance browser’s interest, and give more hits and clicks for the site.

– The net journalist must go through log reports carefully. He must understand which stories are being read on the net. This will help him work on stories that are likely to be read more. Successful sites are those that share browser behavior with their staff members.

–  The web journalist must understand that a mistake, even if it is corrected after it is omnipresent on the site, does not offer much comfort to the individual or the company that has already suffered loss of face on account of the error. A mistake will be deemed as a blunder in case of incorrect information.

        Editing for the Net

   The first and foremost precondition for internet editing is economy. A story must be reported in as few words as possible. The sentences should be short, easy to read and understand. There are 11 golden rules that are prominent for editing in print. All these rules are invariably crucial for editing on the net. Let us give a glimpse.

–   Use short sentences.

–   Avoid modifiers.

–   Substitute wordy phrases with simple small words.

–   Remove relative clauses.

–   Avoid starting a sentence with a subsidiary clause.

–   One sentence, one idea.

–   Use   active voice.

–  Delete clichés.

–  Proper synchronization of names and designations.

–  Simple, short and familiar words.

–  Avoid abstractions.


 Reporting, writing and editing for cyber media is an art so as a science, where creative faculty has to submerge with the rational one. A proper style, along with the proportional amalgamation of traditional doctrine” the inverted pyramid” and the latest technique “search engine optimization” could take this media into zenith. The trend is already bullish; the only acceleration and proliferation factors are proper style, tools and techniques. Happy reading.

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Source by Debanjan Banerjee