Making Time for Print and Online

Ask any trade editor about their biggest concern with integrating online media into their work and odds are they’ll tell you that they have a hard time writing for print and online.

I asked Dan Blank, Director of Content Strategy & Development for RB Interactive, the online division of Reed Business Information his take on writing for print and online. This is what he advised.
How to Make Time to Write for Print and Online?
As reporters and editors are tasked with both print and online responsibilities, managing the increased workload has become a common stress in the newsroom. To solve this problem, we will look at ways to integrate your web and print responsibilities into a single reporting process.

The key is to not focus on the medium you are writing for, but the core value of what you are doing:

  1. Solving the needs of your readers, many of whose media consumption habits are changing.
  2. Evolve the reporting process to meet the changes to your business.

  3. Leverage new tools to enhance your journalistic practices, not diminish them.

Let’s look at one way for a reporter to meet the needs of these changes.

Become a connector; engage with your audience daily. The common thing that has changed across media, is that media creation and consumption is no longer a one-way process. It is “social,” whereby the community can create and distribute content in immediate and compelling ways. For a reporter, this is an amazing opportunity to involve your audience in your reporting process, get instant feedback, and leverage the efforts and passion of your readers. To do so, find out where your readers hang out online. If you are convinced they don’t, then create a place for them to do so. Forums, blogs, and microblogging services such as Twitter, have created a community that you can tap into anytime, anywhere. The more that you connect with your readers, and find ways to connect them to each other, the greater value you have added. This is probably one key way that the role of journalists are changing: from being a content source, to a connector.
  • Post to the web daily. Whether you work a particular beat, or are working on a single story, you can integrate posting to the web into the process of creating your articles.

    For instance: as you learn new facts, you can post ideas and questions to forums, or a microblogging service like Twitter. This brings your audience and sources into your process. They become part of the process.

    You can then post daily updates as your story evolves. Learn an interesting new fact or news source? Post it. The feedback you receive will only ensure that your final story will be more compelling and complete.

    When you finish and publish the full article, engage with your readers again, to get feedback, and identify areas for your to follow up. Each story should have a life of its own that evolves.

  • Set aside “exploring” time each day. As media evolves, the time must be taken to learn new tools, understand strategies, and integrate them into current processes. Think of this as going back to school, without leaving your desk.
  • Have fun.This is not about usurping the power of journalists, or threatening careers. The world is changing, but it is an opportunity. With the web, the individual – including you – is empowered to learn and communicate. You will get from it what you give.

Overall – you may want to think about posting online as the process that you leverage while working on print stories.

Dan Blank is the Director of Content Strategy & Development for RB Interactive, the online division of Reed Business Information. You can find daily updates to his personal blog at

Posted by Erin Erickson, board member of Chicago ASBPE chapter and national website committee co-chair.

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