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The Travel Guide

April 15, 2010

When tailoring a news story to an online newspaper, Tim Harrower says, “a news story may become part of a complex multimedia package.” Readers expect more than a well-written print article. Links, interactive surveys, flash animation, videos and a photo gallery typically accompany the text. Harrower also advises journalists against simply transferring the print article onto a webpage. Instead, the article should be further condensed and each paragraph should be able to stand alone and still convey an effective story. The links can provide the background information a reporter had initially included in the article.

It appears to me that the role of reporters faces an identity crisis. While shorter articles should still be well written and concise, online reporters are not responsible for the totality of the information. Harrower encourages reporters to link to previously written articles in order to provide readers with more information. The role of online reporter has turned into more of a travel guide than an original storyteller.

Picture a travel guide book. The title can be compared to the headline, essentially an overarching topic that first attracts the reader. The various landmarks and tourist destinations represent the videos, photo galleries, surveys and graphics; even though you are reading the book you do not necessarily need to visit every attraction, but the author includes them for the readers’ benefit. Lastly, attractions just outside the chosen city are comparable to the links. They are routes to more information, and the opportunities become boundless.

Although readers should still be able to understand the article without having to click on every link, the article seems to be a gateway to information rather than a finished piece. The online reporter, similar to a travel guide book, condenses important information into an appealing format, but ultimately, the users determine how they will utilize the information to fit their own preferences.

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