Writing for New Media

Picture source here

As this six-week assignment is coming to an end and we are about to focus on creating websites, I found it most accurate to summarize what I learned this week about content for such a platform.


The content must be relevant; not out-of-date. When writing content, be concise. Try to narrow it down to the smallest amount of necessary words as possible. This will be easier if you as a writer know what purpose you have and you aim to make that clear.

Your content should match the design, so choose it well. Why? It increases your credibility. What else is good for credibility? Use graphics, links to other credible sources (which also shows how well-read you are) and write well. A great program for checking grammars is http://www.grammarly.com. Paste a text and they check it for you!

Think about the fact that this is new media, not printed. People want scanable material. There are several tricks for that:

  • Lists.
  • Short paragraphs.
  • More graphics.
  • 50 % shorter texts, and again, not more words that you have to.
Picture source here

Concerning the language, it is always best to go for familiar words and terminology. You should aim to speak directly to the reader and use a steady style. Keep it simple in all ways.

Doesn’t this make sense? Next time you read an article online, think about its format and the content – does it align with all above?

This module has allowed me to practice it all. Now, I not only feel more confident writing and expressing myself in English AND for “new media”, but also well equipped for the making of an excellent website.


Orality and its enemies


Picture source here


All that I am conveying on this blog, is through words. Written words. Every letter you read (hopefully) makes sense in your literate brain, in your linear cognitive system. This week’s in “Irish Folklore” we covered oral tradition and culture.

Ireland has a long and solid oral tradition. Not only stories, proverbs, games, and mythology were passed down through oral storytelling, but also general knowledge and family history.

My generation probably has trouble relating to those times, us being literate and digitally biased.

Does your family ever sit around the fireside, listening to your parents’ stories about adventures that even your grandparents learned from someone older? I never did, and this used to be such common customs.

So what happened?

Many things, but there is no room for an essay. The Industrial revolution and the Great Famine both caused a lot of all Irish speaking, often illiterate and uneducated, peasants to die or leave the countryside. The vacated area was quickly filled with middle-class English-speaking literates.

It fascinates me how being literate can inhibit us from experiencing the genuine, authentic oral culture that used to be everything decades ago. It will never come back because we now get are knowledge through words and labels.


Picture source here


There has been numerous efforts to preserve the stories, with many emphasizing the need to hurry because the only tellers left are old, many dying. The Irish Folklore Commission has now saved thousands of stories, for example.

I find it very hard to imagine the future of the preserved stories. When recorded, they are told in unnatural settings. When transcribed, and even translated, one person’s version is prioritized over another. And in this digital era, we do get further and further away from the fireplaces, funerals, and the intellectual enjoyment of orality.


Great read: “Locating Irish Folklore” by D.Ó Giolláin.

Catching the reader at first sight


Picture source here


So far, I have barely mentioned my “Feature Writing” module. Having learned some interesting ways of writing the introduction to different feature articles, this week will have a journalistic theme.

The introduction is the most important part of the feature. It aims to answer the “who” and the “what”, and sometimes even the “when” and the “where”.

These are the types:

  • Delayed introduction: With this technique, the author consciously withholds the central identification of the person, the place or the group in question.
  • Statement of fact: As the name indicates, facts are stated in the introduction.
  • Descriptive introduction: A vivid picture of the atmosphere is painted at the beginning of the piece, setting the atmosphere.
  • Using a question: This is an efficient way of getting the reader involved because they have to think.
  • First person introduction: The author can involve herself/himself. The technique is rarely accepted in news writing, but it can work in a more “artsy” way in features.
  • Surprise introduction: This comes off as a tease, catching the reader. It is important not to mislead but to deliver what the surprise does promise.
  • The strong quote: A very common way of beginning a feature. Don’t use the very best quote first, though.

To write the first paragraph is an art. Being that journalist, the one who can deliver a strong quote, or an eye-catching fact; controversial statements or surprise us all…takes talent, timing, research. This was an inspiring week because words always fascinated me. Learning about how fewer words can have greater impact, if you are good at it, gives me a new challenge. One that I am ready for in my process of becoming an extraordinary writer.

Right way of writing online?

Picture source here

A timeless topic for philosophers is the one of ethics. Now – adding hundreds of other professional titles who need to concern themselves with the topic, maybe more so, seems legitimate. As a writer, why do I need to?

Firstly, we need to define ethics: what are they? A complex notion giving rise to quite a few theories. Let me start with dear old Immanuel Kant, one of the greatest continental philosopher of all times.

  • What he calls Kantianism, or ”Categorical imperative”, basically means that we should act the way we want other people to act, what we ought to do. So a universal norm, a very rational one. Where Kant does not take into account the fact that humans are also emotional beings, another theory covers that for us:
  • ”Subjective relativism”. As the name reveals, it is not absolute such as Kant’s theory. It is based on the very situation, rather than mere reason. One flaw here is the grey zone between doing what you think is right and doing what you want. Justification is an adequate word.

(Now, there are many more theories that I simply cannot get into, theories probably more expedient to writers. For in-depth knowledge, I highly recommend Michael.J Quinn’s ”Ethics for the information age”)

Picture source here

Why do writers need to bother about ethics? Well, it does provide us with a basis for justifying our actions. And since writers often write for other people – it makes sense to have an audience in mind. We should never aim to harm another being.

The reason this subject has caught my attention this week is because it is just as confusing and relative as it is crucial to be aware of. And when all theories contradict each other and we don’t know in which direction to go – awareness is our best tool.