Whither Web Writing?

keysI worked as a print reporter at three publications during and immediately after my undergrad education, and I loved it. But for me, language has always had an appeal beyond just beat reporting. For this reason, I think I’m attracted to content strategy and Web writing.

As a journalism student, I was never very receptive to the arguments to join the dark side, PR, just because it was journalism’s better paid cousin. Nowadays, though, there’s a hybrid field that is neither journalism nor public relations, but that still depends on the same skill set. David Meerman Scott has issued a convincing call to journalists to consider what he calls “brand journalism.” David writes:

People in companies now realize web marketing success comes from creating content-rich web sites, videos, podcasts, photos, charts, ebooks, white papers and other valuable content.

However, many of the companies I speak with are trying to figure out who will create the content that they need for their online initiatives. Marketers, executives, and entrepreneurs say things like: “David, I need help. If I knew how to create great content, I’d already be doing it.”

…if you realize that your skills are in demand right now, you’ve got a new and fascinating opportunity.

At the same time another article I read, swung me back in favor of journalism, though not of the traditional I-broadcast-you-listen model. The article, by Poynter educator Mindy McAdams, explores the future of journalism as curation: selecting, culling, contextualizing, filtering, arranging, organizing, and yes, curating information.

Still, though, I’m holding true to my recent epiphany about my content strategy calling, which I see as encompassing the skills and challenges of journalsm, brand content, all on the dynamic platform of the Web. On that note, I’ve been following the aftermath of the Content Strategy Consortium at the IA Summit 2009, that is to say, wrap-ups and insights courtesy of blogging content strategists such as Keri Maijala of Delicious Words and Shelly Bowen. Also, many of the consortium presentation slides are up here and here.

In short, this is a promising time to be a writer/journalist/content strategist, if you’re curious, love to learn and explore new avenues for your skills. So says this optimist.

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3 responses to “Whither Web Writing?

  1. Thanks for continuing this discussion. In today’s world, a journalists paycheck may very well come from a corporation, nonprofit, government agency, or even a rock band.

    David

  2. I’ve worked with a number of content strategist’s who have a background in journalism and they have all been very good. They all have the essential skill of asking detailed questions and persisting until they get an adequate answer.

  3. julieespinosa

    I think another commonality across job titles and industries–beyond being curious–is being creative and open in the pursuit of communicating a story or information in the best way possible. That is essential for Web content of all stripes.

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