Writing On The Internet

Writing On The Internet-80
When I spoke to my colleagues who write for print, I almost got the impression they were working in an entirely different industry—and possibly on a different planet.Suffice it to say, Hilton is wrong: There are plenty of differences between writing online and writing for print when it comes to factors like style, sourcing, and payment protocol.So even if a magazine article takes a few paragraphs before getting to the nut graph, the reader is less likely to just flip the page and move on the way we tend to do with online content.

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But considering what it takes to keep up with the speed of news, longer articles just aren’t cost effective for anymore for a lot of online outlets.

For instance, I write feature articles every week for a travel site called The Points Guy, which typically run 1,000–1,500 words, and most of the articles I write for personal finance sites are under 1,000 words.

While digital writers are expected to be their own authority, their readers will take note of any errors in real time.

Make a specious claim in print, and your editor will publish a reader’s letter rebutting it or print a retraction in the next edition.

And for some digital publications, editors even demand that writers participate and respond to questions and constructive criticism.

For example, I recently wrote an article for The Points Guy about the credit card benefits offered to active duty members of the military, and several commentators immediately pointed to personal experiences that contradicted what I had written.Sure, there are exceptions depending on the subject matter and the publication, but it sometimes seems like writers come in with the same mindset regardless of the medium, which can lead to declined pitches, extensive revisions, and wounded egos.To avoid these problems, here are the six major differences you should take into account when pitching online.Yet online, authors are commonly allowed—and even expected—to exert their own authority.And even when they cannot claim to be experts, many bloggers use their inexperience as a way to write from the perspective of a novice. Online writing has such different sourcing standards than print because it’s much easier to hyperlink to source material instead of explicitly attributing and fact-checking information.Minutes after the article was posted, I learned some card issuers were denying service members the benefits, and that there were other nuances to promised benefits I was not aware of.You can read the dust-up for yourself in the comments section.And in the case of the more blog-style sites, editors might just ask me to use my best judgment to write about whatever I think would make for a compelling article.Pitching is more of a case-by-case issue than the other factors on this list, but if I’m writing an 800-word article for a digital publication, my pitch will only be a paragraph or two.Whenever someone checks out an article online, there are links to a dozen other pieces vying for attention just a click away.And as former Slate writer Farhad Manjoo explained in his popular 2013 article about reader habits, odds are most people won’t finish what they read on the Internet.


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