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Online Journalists

The Job

The work of online journalists is published on Web sites in online publications. They may write articles for e-zines (online magazines), press releases that are posted on company or association Web sites, or stories for online newspapers. The online journalist must pay special attention to the tone and length of an article. Few readers will scroll through screen after screen of text. The online journalist must be able to write in a style that provides news while engaging the reader's interest.

While online journalists do not need to be computer geniuses, they do need to know which computer and Internet tools can make their articles more interesting. Frequently, online journalists incorporate highlighted keywords, lists, pop-up boxes or windows, and hypertext links in their articles. These items make the articles visually appealing and easy to read. In addition, such things as hypertext links and pop-up windows allow the journalist to include a depth of information in articles that might otherwise be short and superficial.

Online journalists work for publishing companies of various sizes. These companies may be businesses that have been built solely around Web journalism, such as the e-zine Salon, or they may be traditional publishing companies that have also developed a Web presence, such as the New York Times or Entertainment Weekly. Online journalists may also work for news organizations, research firms, and other businesses that have Web sites where articles are published. Some online journalists are full-time salaried employees of companies, while others may work on a freelance basis. As a freelancer, the online journalist runs his or her own business. The freelancer may get an assignment from a company to write a particular article, or the freelancer may write an article and then attempt to sell it to a company for publication. To write an article to sell to a company for publication, online journalists must research the topic, find out what other articles on the subject have already been published, decide on the marketability of the article idea, and write about the topic in a new and interesting way that will make the article stand out from others. Freelancers also need business skills to keep track of their finances and market their work.

Both freelance and salaried online journalists must be organized and able to work under time pressures. The deadlines for online journalists can be similar to those for print journalists. Some articles are time sensitive; this is especially true for those working for news organizations. Deadlines will be tight, particularly since readers turn to Web sites expecting to find the most up-to-date information possible. Many people working in online writing view the speed at which an article can go from the concept stage to the published stage as an asset.

One drawback to the online journalist's career is that many Internet companies are not well established, and thus job security is minimal. However, for those writers interested in being on the cutting edge of technology and having their writing available to millions, the online journalism field is the right place to be.

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