Writing for Digital Media: The Last Assignment

11 Dec

It’s hard to believe that Writing for Digital Media 711 is coming to an end. From the start, this course encouraged me to develop my own unique voice, style and tone, a much needed lesson for any writer, no matter the skill level. Recalling veteran journalist Kurt Vonnegut, a source I turned to for inspiration throughout the semester, I quickly learned what it meant to be a good writer – be direct, keep it simple, write with style and guts.

Ironically, Vonnegut‘s advice was meant for the print journalist, but served as a guiding light as I studied what it takes to write well for digital media. Come to find out, the fundamentals of writing are so concrete, they carry over to the digital world. Good news for all of us writers out there.

During the first week of this course, I outlined several objectives that I hoped to achieve by semester’s end. I can say with confidence that I accomplished each goal and look forward to continuing on my path to learning about new media.

(Written in week one and posted to the online classroom)

Goals for JMOC 711: Writing for Digital Media

  • I wish to improve my speed of writing and gain the proficiency of a seasoned journalist. Writing efficiently has always been a challenge of mine, and what concerns me most about my ability. I’m eager to learn what it takes to deliver an assignment quickly, one that readers can relate to, and one that I am proud of.
  • By working with my classmates, I hope to gain more confidence in my writing – a part of my profession that can always improve.
  • I’m convinced that successful time management is a science, and one that I want to improve. As a busy professional, managing time effectively is crucial…and it’s hard. For me, this semester will be the ultimate test of time management skills. Speaking of, I’m off! On to the next task at hand…

Throughout the course, we explored trending issues and challenges that have come to redefine the media industry. No longer are journalists, PR and ad professionals, web developers, editors and media specialists confined to the printed page. We’re expected to reach an audience by employing each and every story telling method, technology and tool. My most imperative objective throughout the course was to better understand these new media, from blogging, social media communities and networks, Internets and Intranets, crowdsourcing, citizen journalism and SEO strategies.

As a PR specialist with a flair for new media, I was driven by the assignments that nurtured my sense of creativity while pushing me to think critically about varying digital environments. The week six assignment encouraged me to dive headfirst into the blogosphere and start a long-term project aimed to teach me about digital media for the long-haul.

Like writing in my childhood diary, The Fregetarian Times has become a way for me define my own writing style and to tap into what I love most about writing. Throughout the life of this blog, my textbook will stay open. It’s highlighted and dog-eared pages will continue to provide direction and insight on how to build a blog I’m proud of, one that serves as a credible, authoritative source for its readers. Specifically, these techniques will me help build a robust audience of readers for The Fregetarian Times:

  • Write effective headlines and subheads
  • Tag, add keywords and employ search-friendly strategies
  • Organize content for optimal readability
  • Identify an audience and write to fits their needs
  • Encourage my readership to participate through interactive elements
  • Build a memorable experience for readers
  • Organize a space to help the audience navigate through and find info
  • Maintain a sense of sensitivity to those I connect with
  • Respect the Web’s broad reach and non-stop connectivity
  • Break-up and reformat long swaths of printed text to fit the unique digital environment
  • Ensure quality, consistency and stylistic standards
  • Build a community of readers via social media networks

With a background in visual communications and PR, the majority of my career stems from print media. And while I consider myself pretty tech savvy, staying abreast of every media trend and flux can be daunting. This course has taught me to play with unfamiliar digital territories and welcome media newcomers with open arms.

More than anything, 711 has confirmed that I’m on the right career path as I pursue a graduate degree from UNC’s School of Journalism and Mass Comm. As we round out the semester, I can’t help but hold my breath for what’s to come in my mission to learn.  This course has encouraged and reinforced my enthusiasm for earning a master’s degree, and I’m eager to apply for this coming school year. Cross your fingers and say a few prayers as I head down the digital media path less traveled.

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