Digital Journalism Worst Practices [Reprise]
Two weeks ago I published an entry about the list of finalists of the 2008 Online Journalism Awards. I was impressed overall with the quality of the entries, and emerged with a sense of hope about the future of digital journalism [should a business model ever be discovered to fund it].
But at the bottom of the entry I included some of the Worst Practices in Digital Journalism the winners also exhibited. A few days later an e-mailer suggested, correctly, that I’d “buried the lede,” as we say in newsrooms. This is to say my list of worst practices got lost at the end of an entry about good practices.
So: I’ve reposted the Worst Practices part here. Enjoy. Or not.
Segregating “video” from other parts of a package, or even labeling it as video. Media of all types should be integrated into a whole package. Calling out “video” rings of an anachronistic brag: “Hey, lookit, we did some video, too!” I demand this practice be stopped immediately.
Layering a show-offey Flash entry page above the package. Flash pages waste time, bandwidth and user patience. They add no value. They impress nobody other than their own designers. Stop it, I tell you, stop it!
Placing the whole 3-part, 120-inch wordroll at the center of a digital package. Long blocks of text work okay on paper. They deliver a lousy experience online. Keeping those wayback-style reports at the center of digital packages tells me the newspaper folks are still in control of the website, fighting the future, defending the interests of their print reporters and slowing the new organization’s transition to a financially stable future. In fact, how about this: Instead of sticking “videos” in the sidebar of an article, how about putting “articles” in the sidebar of a visually-driven presentation. [“Hey, lookit, we wrote an article about this too!”] Editors who take offense at that suggested inversion, I submit, may want to consider that next buyout offer very seriously.