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Lightbulb Publishing

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October 2016

Journalistic styles

There are a number of journalistic forms and styles, here are a few:

  • Investigative: a primary source of information, which unearths unethical and illegal behavior by individuals, companies and government agencies. These pieces usually take a long time to construct and are orchestrated by a large team who conduct interviews, analyze data and travel great distances to gather evidence to support their claims.
  • Ambush: Journalist’s who approach individuals in the spotlight off guard in public places, they use aggressive questioning tactics in the hope of a news worthy response. This is often associated with ‘Gotcha’ journalism, a term that describes journalistic methods that are designed to entrap people into making damaging statements.
  • Convergence: or ‘new journalism’ is the use of multiple media forms together, such as print, graphics and video.
  • Gonzo: characterized by its punchy witty style and arduous language. It’s known for throwing off the restraints of conventional journalistic writing forms. Its unique style gives up objectivity in favor of immersion, usually first hand perspective, which is drawn from popular culture, fiction and philosophical literary styles. It was popularized by the American writer Hunter S. Thompson, author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 and the Rolling Stone magazine.
  • News: Facts are relayed in a straight forward style without any jazz. These stories usually lack the depth a feature story offers or the questioning approach of an investigative piece.
  • Reviews: Are mainly opinion based, from a critic or authoritative voice from within that field.
  • Columns: Stem from the personality of the writer, who takes their own style, opinion to a topic of their choice and are recognized by their individual voice.
  • Feature writing: Explores a subject from all angles, with a dense nut graph*. They offer the biggest work count of all types of journalism, features are lengthy pieces and often incorporate interviews.
  • Blogging: This is what I do, as you can see. It’s a combination of many forms but without the restraint of most print T&C’s. It is an outlet for writers to write casually about whatever crosses their mind.  Blogs can inspire social trends as well as provide a platform for book writers, journalists and presenters.

*The Nut Graph
‘In American English journalism terminology, a nut graph is a paragraph, particularly in a feature story, that explains the news value of the story’, Wikipedia.

If you’d like some historical background on journalistic styles an interesting read can be found here

How to give good feedback

As an editor I spend a lot of time going over content with a critical eye, making edits and suggestions and then rounding it all into a nice ball of feedback. Here are some useful feedback tips:

  • Be comfortable
  • Be specific
  • Be firm, not mean
  • Be positive
  • Be reasonable

Most of the time people dread feedback, as soon as you say the word it makes people think they’re going to be torn down. Tailor your feedback according to the relationship level you have with that person. Create a safe zone so the person you’re feeding back to knows what to expect and will be comfortable receiving your comments.  Be clear and concise, bullet points in an email and comments where you want to make suggestions in a doc.

Track changes, authors like to see what you’re doing. If it isn’t grammar related, then a reason why you’ve made the change won’t go amiss.  Your rationale is an important part of any edit.

When feeding back your overall review keep in mind to be respectful of peoples work and their ‘creative babies’. Targeting just the bad stuff won’t go down well so talk about the good points too. It’ll encourage people to tackle the edits and will provide a platform for further exchanges where you can simply feedback changes to them, safe in the knowledge that they are aware of your support.

The ability to negotiate and collaborate on ideas and edits will lead to better rapport and better work. When giving feedback steer clear of setting forth your ideas as concrete blocks, but rather living forms that take shape to meet the needs of the project and that can be worked with by others.

If you have a huge list you can lay out what needs to be tackled first in order of importance, this could help an author prioritize if they are feeling lost on where to start. Colour coding or differentiating between types of edits is sometimes helpful for authors too i.e grammar change green, sentence structure blue, content revision red. This can help an author to see where their weaknesses lie.

Set deadlines or milestones for edits to give them momentum. If you have any examples of work that would be useful, such as layouts, then communicate this. Make your aims as clear as possible.

How to link up your blog?

Quick blog post!

How do you link your blog to your facebook/ twitter/ instagram?

Three ways:

1. Widgets, accessible through the appearance tab on the left sidebar.

2. Through the ‘mysites’ button at the top go to ‘sharing’ and choose the apps you would like to have access.

3. Via RSS, Twitterfeed here and more detail RSS instructions here. I’d recommend this method as it allows you more control and the ability to sync across devices.

Paper planes: the importance of graphic design

We all know how important aesthetics are, I for one always find myself drawn to pretty packaging regardless of what’s inside… Harrod’s Bon Bons got me in Heathrow airport last week.

That said, how do you choose the wrapping that goes around your site? How do you decide on the layout? These are big questions that cover a very broad topic, so I’ll break it down in further posts entitled discoverability and navigation and heck one on semantic enrichment too while we’re at it.  For now though lets talk about the initial inception of design, who is your target market? Who are your competitors? One of your first business decisions is to decide whether you want to keep it in line with what they’re doing and simply try to do it better or do you go off the grid in an attempt to be a digital zeitgeist? Each has its merits and challenges. Your next decision is your budget, which usually takes form depending on your goals and sales targets. Generating traffic isn’t cheap these days.

Your choice of design represents the character of your product, so choose wisely. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by website templates, plugins and programming when you’re designing yourself. Equally so when you’re sizing up a company to do it for you. Some reputable names include Squarespace, Deeson, Druple and Semantico. If you’re shelling out for one of these consider what the identity of your product is, for instance Deeson specializes in community driven platforms, where the design is a hub that generates user discussions and content. When employing a website designer think about how their set up is going to work within your organization and its processes, with eproduction, CS, marketing, sales and any other stakeholder. The last thing you want to do is spend budget on a vendor to implement a CMS tool like SAMS* and then after speaking to CS discover they don’t require it.

If you’re an individual building a blog it may be easier to go with a template that enables a theme to begin with.  Starting with the basics will give you an idea of where you might want to go in the future and beginning with free software will spare you the expensive of indecisiveness if you haven’t yet bought a domain.

Initial things to consider:

  • Colour scheme
  • Layout
  • Key functionalities
  • Target market
  • Brand identity

Useful designing sources:

Wix bloggers here
WordPress bloggers here and here and a bit of programming here

For blogroll you’re on your own.

*SAMS (Software Asset Management) ‘is a business practice that involves managing and optimizing the purchase, deployment, maintenance, utilization, and disposal of software applications within an organization’.

Project management for editors

Whether you’re an editor, an author or illustrator if your’re working on a collaborative project then you will need to communicate things like schedules, deadlines, tasks and docs. The role of the editor is generally quite autonomous but that of the digital editor is quite the opposite. Creating and designing digital products requires input from a number of stakeholders. Here are three simple tools for project management that editors can use across the board.

Trello

Summary: Quick, easy and so user friendly it will appeal to even the biggest technophobes.

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Sign up here and it’ll take you through to a blank ‘board’, much like Pintrest. Your first task is to make a ‘list’ and choose the number of items you want to manage. I’ve done the basics below:

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When you click on a list you can ‘add a card’ this will fall under the board you’ve placed it on.  Then you can add a ‘card’ which will enable these options:

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The ‘edit labels’ feature allows you to colour code things on your board, so tasks for marketing, sales and editorial can all be different colours. You can add or remove members to cards or boards, set deadlines and add attachments. Team members can add their comments on individual cards too.

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On the home screen at the far right you will find your settings side bar, which looks like this:

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From here you have options to add team members and to customize, including adding ‘power ups’. You can only add 1 power up in the free version but the full program offers a wide range. The full list consists of:

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Each power up’s functionality is easy to set up and use. That’s all there is to it!

Base Camp

Summary: This is my personal go-to as I find the layout suits my needs better.

Once you’ve signed up you’ll be taken through to this landing page:

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This is the sample page they show you to get the ball rolling. Unlike Trello there are set project boards, but with added functionality. To get started click ‘base camp’ at the top and start a new project. You can add clients to the project so they can see it’s progress but won’t show them internal discussions or any unfinished work. The other tabs at the top allow you to talk one on one, see your notifications and switch to other projects. The reports tab is particularly useful:

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It gives you an overview of what everyone else working on the project is up to. Like Trello you can upload docs, set deadlines and keep tracking all of the ongoing tasks building your project.

Jira

Summary: A lot more complex than the previous two, ideal for Agile workflows and digital  projects. Jira is great if you’re working in sprints, with much of the functionality of Base Camp it allows you to share and analyze data easily. It also provides a series of add on’s, similar to Trello but aimed at software development. You can do portfolio planning, scrum boards, other features include:

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For the sake of space I won’t go into too much detail on this one, Jira only post will follow up!

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