The rise of digital media is exciting, but it is also somewhat bittersweet. In chapter eight of his book, Writing & Editing for Digital Media, Brian Carroll points out that the increase in digital media publications’ popularity has caused traditional media outlets, specifically newspapers, to suffer. Between 2007 and 2011, newspapers were the fastest declining U.S. industry while online publishing was the fastest growing U.S. industry. If online publishing is going to influence media consumers and interactors as much as it is projected, bloggers and online writers need to understand the responsibility this requires.

No Room for Anything but the Truth

The insights and immediate information digital media offer are invaluable. Never before has the world been able to connect and learn about what is happening across the world so rapidly. For example, information on the Boston Marathon bombings in April of 2013 were documented and shared to the global audience through Twitter as writers from the Boston Globe were tweeting accurate information in real time.

boston-globe1 boston-globe2

Tweets from the Boston Marathon bombings in real time. {Student Pulse}

However, digital media can still be dangerous because articles and other pieces do not have to go through a fact checking or editing process before they are posted. An example of misinterpreted and unverified news was when a news company wrongly tweeted that Joe Paterno, a former Penn State football coach, had died. This misinformed tweet caused an unfortunate domino effect, as other news companies such as CBS News and The Huffington Post retweeted the “news.” Both of the above examples are given by Carroll in his book.

These instances highlight the need for good, accurate, and thorough journalism on the Web. Carroll defines the important role of journalists by stating that “journalists gather and share information, applying a discipline of verification in order to maximize truth, minimize harm, and to provide a fair and comprehensive account” (Carroll, pg. 217). While I am not necessarily blogging about hard-hitting news stories, my blog still needs to hold itself to a high standard of accuracy and truth for my readers. When I blog about restaurants in Greenville, I need to give accurate information about prices, locations, and the quality of meals. When I blog about parks in Greenville, I need to be consistent in my evaluation of them and truthful about their quality. True journalism cannot be sugarcoated.

Half Journalist, Half Storyteller

Along with the importance of journalistic writing for my blog is the concept of storytelling. Storytelling can be a challenge on the Web because, unlike print works, the Internet is a distracting place. Therefore, keeping readers engaged can be difficult. In her book titled Writing for the Web, Lynda Felder writes that “good story tellers can charm, soothe, placate, heal, educate, warn, and incite their audience into action” (Felder, pg. 108). I want my readers to feel inspired to venture out of their college campuses and experience Greenville, so how I craft the “stories” in my posts will matter.

In chapter nine, Felder also lays out the important elements of storytelling. While my posts will not necessarily take on traditional story outlines, the elements still apply:

  1. Characters → myself and other college students
  2. Conflict → having a college budget to stick to
  3. Place → Greenville, SC
  4. Plot → successfully exploring Greenville on a college budget
  5. Premise → financial restraints should not hinder someone from enjoying their college city
  6. Backstory → college students do not enter college with a steady income and feel unable to engage in the full city experience
  7. Theme → the typical college student condition
  8. Tone → optimistic

storytelling

Elements of storytelling. {MLKTTS}

I am looking forward to using these elements to bring my “story of Greenville” to life and encourage my fellow college students to take advantage of where we live.


Here is a humorous yet informative video from comedian John Oliver on the realities and ramifications of transitioning from traditional journalism to digital journalism:

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