In Chapter 13 of Al Tompkins’ “Aim for the Heart,” he discusses the strategy involved in online storytelling. This is important to the future of journalism because recent studies concluded that people prefer storytelling to the quick excerpts of news that frequent the Internet now. Tompkins offers a long list of tips to succeed in holding the audience’s attention in an online platform, but these are the top three sections that I found most valuable: “Make It Interactive,” “Leverage Your Digital Assets,” and “Write Lively and Tightly.”
In the section “Make It Interactive,” Tompkins explains that a story will be more successful if it adapts an on-demand format.
“New consumers want what they want, how they want it and when they want it,” according to Tompkins.
Different ways a journalist can make a story interactive include providing links to other sources of information, creating a summary version of the text for readers who want quick snippets of information, and using multimedia.
“Leverage Your Digital Assets” makes an important point about the Web’s unlimited capabilities for journalists. Where television, radio and print are limited within the constraints of the specific medium, the Web combines all of these tools and options into one platform.
“Think about what information you collect in the course of your day and consider how you can leverage it to a higher use,” said Tompkins. By this he means that the Web gives journalists the power to take data one step further and present information in a more powerful way, so journalists should always consider how they can improve their work.
In addition to unlimited capabilities, the Web also has unlimited distractions for readers. The section entitled “Write Lively and Tightly” emphasizes the importance of a good lead to grab the reader’s attention. Also, journalists should use the inverted pyramid style of writing to place the most important and interesting facts first. Otherwise the reader will most likely lose interest in the story.
I think the Web is an amazing platform and journalists should take full advantage of the its features. To create the most successful story possible, skim through Chapter 13 of “Aim for the Heart” because Tompkins offers some valuable advice.