Digital media

Internet provides high visibility at very low cost, making it the most effective and fastest means of global communication. In the age of internet communication, a basic knowledge of the workings of the computer and internet is very necessary for all business environments.

The internet is a storehouse of information and a powerful medium of information distribution. In the present world of information technology knowledge of how the computer works is very important.

The computer is divided into three parts, the hardware, the operating system and software.

The hardware is the actual electronic part of the computer which includes memory, hard drive capacity, different drives or storage space (e.g. CD-ROM, DVD, etc.) and screen.

The powerful the hardware the higher level of work the computer can perform for e.g. for multimedia applications, one needs a computer with large hard drive and minimum megabytes (MB) of memory.

The operating system (OS), or platform, determines general functionality (how the computer works) and interface ( what the design of the screen looks like) It also determines the kind of software that can be installed and run in the computer.

To connect to the Internet, one needs a browser and an ISP (Internet Service Provider). The browser is the software that allows the computer to access data on the World Wide Web; for example, Internet Explorer, Firefox , Google chrome are very popular browsers. The Internet is actually a huge centreless network of computers connected through individual servers – the part of a company’s computer network that connects directly to the Internet. For an individual user, one needs a provider that has a server in order to connect (usually at a set fee). Companies and institutions have their own servers. The web address or URL, Uniform Resource Locator is actually a link to a server. If one wants to publish any material on the Internet, such as a website, one needs a server to host your site.

Submitting Articles for Online Publication

Writing for online magazines is somewhat similar to print journalism, particularly the inverted pyramid format. Also, as in print publishing, it is essential that you should be an avid reader of your magazine before becoming one of its writers. Going through recent articles of the magazine can provide you invaluable tips regarding the expectations of the editors and readers. Another way to analyze the readers of a magazine is through its advertisers. Many online magazines contain ads at the top or the sides of their page. The types of ads that are displayed there throw light on the demographics and psychographics of the target audience.

Browsing various sites will eventually make you familiar with the electronic magazines that might be a good choice for your article. In many sites, there is a link ‘About Us’, which gives information about the editorial angle, audience, and article submission requirements. In order to be on safer grounds, it is always beneficial to email the editor to present your idea and to determine the fee (if applicable), deadlines, and other relevant issues.

With regard to style, online articles are written in a more casual style than print publications. Online articles tend to be a mix of different genres and styles and allow more experimentation in word choice compared to print publications. Also, they should contain shorter sentences and paragraphs because of the restrictions of the screen-based interface. To sum it up, electronic articles have an economy of style in addition to attention-grabbing punches, which is not often expected for print publications.

SUBMITTING AN ARTICLE FOR PUBLICATION

SUBMITTING AN ARTICLE FOR PUBLICATION

 

While deciding to submit an article to a magazine for publication, make sure you are familiar with the topics and styles of your chosen magazine. You have a higher chance of having your article accepted if it fits with the ‘culture’ of the magazine. All magazines have details of the editor, so if you cannot find submission guidelines, contact the editor to request them. This is the editor’s job and, besides, most magazines are looking for fresh ideas and new writers. In most cases, you will be required to submit a proposal summarizing your article, and noting its significance and the types of readers it is likely to interest.

In order to familiarize yourself with the stylistic conventions of your chosen magazine, follow these steps:

1. Read carefully each article in recent issues of the magazine. Note the basic question or issue that they deal with and trace the ways that they answer it.

2. Notice the tone of the articles. Is it humorous? Serious? Technical? Chatty? This will give you a hint on what tone to give your own article.

3. Notice the use of research. Have the writers conducted primary research, such as interviewing people, or are most articles based on secondary research, the consultation of written sources? How many quotations do the articles use? How much information is paraphrased, i.e., written in the writer’s own words?

4. Notice the use of pronouns (‘I’, ‘you’, ‘we’, etc.). Are articles written mostly in an impersonal, objective style or do they rely heavily on personal comment? How does the writer refer to him/herself? Does s/he use personal pronouns?

5. Notice the leads and ties. How long and snappy are they? Do the articles rely strongly on leads to ‘bait’ the reader, or are other elements, such as pictures or quotations of famous speakers, more prominent?

6. Underline the first sentence in each paragraph. They should form a step-by-step sequence. Then note the cohesion that the writers have used: the linking words and phrases within paragraphs and the transitions from one paragraph to the next. Often the same words or ideas will be repeated in the last sentence of one paragraph and the first sentence of the next.

7.  Notice how the articles develop their theme. Is the article structured chronologically, developmentally, by alternating examples, point by point? How did the writer build the organizational structure to answer the title’s question?

8.  What techniques does the writer use to make the article both informative and appealing? E.g., does s/he use analogies, anecdotal examples, metaphors, personal stories, rhetorical questions, direct questions to the readers, etc.?

9.  Notice the title. It may have been changed by the editor; nevertheless, how does it reflect the article? Does it tease, quote, state facts? What technique does the writer use to make the reader want to read the article?

10.  Look at para-textual elements, such as visuals, pullquotes, subheads, etc. Although the editor may have produced these, you can still get an idea of the type of ‘framing’ that the magazine requires, and this will give you some tips on what types of information the editors consider important.

Leads, hooks and ties in professional writing

Scientific and business magazines do not develop in a linear fashion like a news report. These articles differ from a news report in that they need not provide background or justify assertions. These articles are subjective and tell describe to the readers what the writer wants to say about a topic.

A magazine article plunges straight into the description of the product or discovery without wasting too much time in building the background.

The scientific and business article, discusses, immediately showing its relevance to the interests or needs of the reader. It then goes on to present different angles of the topic, starting with the most important and continuing in lessening in importance. It may end abruptly, or with one or two sentences with a comment, opinion or evaluative remark to the preceding discussion.

A magazine reader wants to be slowly pulled into reading an article. The lead is the opening statement that should attract the reader to the article. Its job is to relate the main topic to the reader’s general interests and experience.

A hook is similar to a lead, although it is usually more ‘spicy’ or provocative than a lead. A hook is like a bait to tempt the reader to carry on reading. Avoid abstractions and technical jargon.

A good lead starts by stating a fact and then asking a question about this fact from the reader’s point of view. It then goes on to overview the specifics of what the article will discuss and ends with a statement on the purpose of the article.

Sometimes a short narrative is also used as a lead. The rest of the article is a detailed description of the topic to be discussed.

The tie is an optional device at the end of the article with a comment or question summing up the writer’s attitude towards the topic.

Integrating Quotations in Professional Writing

Quotations are key elements in any kind of writing. In formal writing, they may have a secondary function, but, in journalistic writing, facts and ideas revolve around quotations. Journalists aim to report stories, which are of importance and interest to the readers. Quotations lend credibility to their writing, give voice to the people represented, and add color to the facts. In formal writing, a sentence begins in normal tone and ends with a quotation. In journalistic writing, sentence begins with a quotation and ends with a comment on it. There is another notable difference between formal and journalistic writing. In formal writing, the sources (full references) of the quotations are placed either as footnotes (bottom of each page) or at the end of the text as a Reference List. On the other hand, in journalistic writing, the person’s name and affiliation are preferably mentioned in the sentence itself. Each quotation should be followed by its analysis, usually in one or more sentences, explaining why it is interesting and its significance. If the quotation is quite long and complex, it should be followed-up with a brief summary, which explains in what manner it helps your cause. Quotations (when used in a proper way) lend persuasion and strength to your main argument. However, one thing must be kept in mind; quotations can only supplement your argument, they should not be treated as the main argument.

DEVELOPING A FEATURE ARTICLE

A feature article is composed in order to explain how something works or is developed over time, informing the public of something new and/or important, and interpreting complex information in an understandable and appealing way. Basically, you may be doing one or more of the following:

  • describing the parts of your object and their interrelationships,
  • tracing the history of the object and describing its changes,
  • describing the object’s qualities and characteristics, and
  • analysing the object’s value.

To achieve this effectively, use a combination of the following strategies.

(1) Define terms and differentiate them from other similar ones. This is very useful while writing about a large topic with many subdivisions, aspects and categories. By defining it, you are specifying the parameters in which you will explain it. Consider using sentence or paragraph-length definitions for complicated topics, and parenthetical definitions for less complicated ones.

(2) Give an analogy. For example, using the same principle as an overhead projector, an epidiascope projects three-dimensional images onto a screen using a magnified beam of light. This gives the reader the gist of what you are saying and makes complicated terms and processes easier to grasp. In the same light, you can contrast the term to what it is opposite to or different from.

(3) Give examples that illustrate the functions or properties of the topic you are explaining. This helps the reader put the topic in context and thus relate to it better.

(4) Compare the topic with others to show its special features or common attributes. As with analogies, comparisons are useful in helping the reader classify the topic in a category with which s/he is familiar, and/or to understand the innovation or specific nature of the described object.

(5) Describe the properties/qualities of an object or situation and detail how it works or how it occurs and under what circumstances.

(6) Suggest reasons for a situation or development. This is useful when you think the reader is likely to ask the question ‘why’. It justifies a current state of affairs by explaining what caused it to come into being.

(7) Tell a story that illustrates your discussion. This is useful in making conceptual information more concrete by describing a ‘physical’ situation where the ideas you are talking about were at play. Stories are very effective in assisting the reader to visualise and, therefore, to better understand, your description.

(8) Describe a process. This is a way to show how something is done, a protocol or procedure. Describing processes also comes into play when giving instructions on how to conduct a task.

(9) Describe applications. This emphasises the practical aspects of research, by showing how inventions and discoveries can be used in everyday life.

(10) Use visual aids, such as a diagram or photograph. If you choose this strategy, make sure you explain in your text what the visual is intended to show and how it fits in your written explanation. To avoid digressing from your text to explain a diagram, consider using side-bars that contain visuals and text, and provide self-sufficient information that complements the information presented in the body of the article.

Accuracy in Professional writing

The challenge in professional writing is explaining complex technical concepts in an easy understandable manner, with accuracy. How can accuracy be maintained while avoiding jargon, equations and formulae? Writing to popularize a scientific or technical matter is thus always a struggle for any writer as there is a looming trepidation of trivializing the findings or providing false hypothesis or vague allusions. There is also a danger of writing as a technical expert which a layman cannot understand discouraging him or her from reading the whole paper.

There are no simple answers to the question. Three factors must be considered while writing a technical or scientific paper or article. First factor is space constraint; the space for any journalistic writing is limited and it’s impossible to cover all aspects in the writing. It is, therefore, important to decide what to take, which angle to focus on and what to reject. The second is the audience. The general public or people from different fields are also interested in the information but might not be aware of the technical details. Thirdly, the market and social context should be kept in mind. The work of a professional writer is to connect science and technology to its social significance.

While writing on a scientific or technical matter one should be carefully select information to be used, use visualisation and explanation of concepts in terms of images and stories. Avoid exaggeration, generalization or sensationalization of the subject.

The term accuracy not only means checking that the text is factually and grammatically correct, but also that the text confirms to all the style guidelines.

Four steps should be kept in mind while ensuring that accuracy is maintained in professional writing:

  • Double check the facts

The most important point to remember is that what ever you write must be in grammatically correct prose without going wrong on facts. While proofreading one should double-check all statistics, numbers, dates, names with their spellings from a reliable source.

  • Don’t use spell-check, blindly

Spell-check indicates and even automatically corrects spelling mistakes and typos, but one has to be very cautious while running a spell-check as it keeps giving you alternatives, which might not be correct, in the present context.

The names of people, places, and organizations are should be checked manually. Number, dates, sections, and page numbers also should be looked over carefully followed by punctuation and grammar.

  • Maintain a consistent style throughout

It is preferable to follow a particular style guide as a reference to ensure style consistency in every document. The key to using a style guide effectively is simply choosing one and stick to it this gives consistency and professional touch.

  • Get an objective opinion

Get someone else who is well read and has proper knowledge grammar read the writing to give an objective feedback on the writing. The objective reader need not be from the field you are writing about; rather it is preferable that he or she belongs to a different subject.

Keep a sharp eye on factual errors, style inconsistencies, misspellings, or grammatical mistakes while writing any piece of communication.

Journalistic Style: Language and Techniques

Business and technology journalistic writing make the reader familiar with unknown concepts and happenings. They achieve it by presenting the information that is relevant to the readers in a creative way. This involves a lot of analyzing and synthesizing of information on the part of the writer. The writer must keep the following techniques in mind:

  • Factual: The writer must try to give as much factual information as possible. The 5Ws (What, When, Where, Why, Who) and 1H (How) help in achieving this.
  • Rational: Readers are always on the lookout for evaluative judgment, which can be found only in rational approaches.
  • Specific: The writer must give specific details with examples, wherever possible. People like reading about others: so, quotes, success stories and testimonials can be included. In some cases, experimental evidence can be provided in support of the statements.
  • Technical: Uninformed readers find the usage of technical jargon to be very tedious. In case jargons are used, they should be relevant to the context and easily identifiable. The writer should present the information by acting as someone who knows the inside story of the industry as if he is someone who is experiencing the same as others. That will help the readers to identify with the topic.

Organisation Of Content In Features

Usually, most of the business and technology magazine articles are organised according to the following methods.

(1)  Descriptive method “ This method focuses on the product analysis or the development concerning its constituent parts. While following this method, it is essential to describe the product qualities and benefits, as well as explain the possible applications and examples of use.

(2)  Comparative method “ This method describes and evaluates the product relative to competitors in the market. While following this method, it is essential to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of products for different users, as well as evaluate their position in the market.

(3)  Progressive/historical method “ This method focuses on the qualities and functions of a product concerning its development from a previous form. While following this method, it is necessary to tell a story, comparing the current market situation of the product with parallel cases in the past and pointing out analogies. Besides, focus on innovations and on the specific attributes and benefits, which make the product a novelty.

Thus, depending on the article length, select any one method or mix the three. Thoroughly judge the organisation of information, which would best allow you to present your object in the most appealing and effective way. Moreover, remember that the order in which the information is presented in a text is a strategic device, which provides the writer with the means to manipulate information so as to produce the most desired effect. For instance, if you are attempting to motivate readers to tryout a course of action, it would be counterproductive to begin with the cost or the disadvantages. Basically, this would be beginning with a weakness that could well defeat your intention. Instead, include the cost or disadvantages at a strategic position, after you have highlighted the advantages and qualities.

Press release

In an era of unprecedented information overload, there is always a danger of your news being overlooked by the media. Press release plays an important role in spreading the word to the media, which acts as a link between the news and public. A press release is the official version of a company or person about any issue to the media. Press releases target media persons or houses to announce something novel or important work or events. Press releases can also be follow-up reports about new developments or clarifications about an ongoing issue.

Press releases are given by hand or sent through e-mail, fax, post or are up loaded in a company’s website. They can also be part of a full press kit along with testimonials, quotes and additional information which will help the reporter make a good story.

The information in a press release cannot be uncontrolled; therefore, the facts and information should be given in a clear and concise manner which cannot be misinterpreted. Clear organization and adequate facts are the thumb rule of a good press release.  A press release is written in an inverted pyramid style.

Parts of a Press Release:

a) Headline: This is the most important line in a release it decides the fate of the news whether it will be considered newsworthy or not by the reporter and it is always in the present tense.

b) Sub headline: This line explains and expands the headline, filling in information with names and the implications of the headline.

c) Lead paragraph: This paragraph contains the 5Ws and 1H (who, what, when, where and how) of the news.

d) Body: The subsequent paragraphs provide additional information and official quotes.

e) Address bar: Placed at the end of the press release it contains contact information, mobile number and website address.

Note: For immediate release or embargo time for release is clearly mentioned in the top of a press release

Things to Remember:

  • Write with an audience in mind; make the news release in form of a news story.
  • Do not exaggerate, make false claims, stick to correct facts and figures, avoid hyperboles like path breaking, unique, etc.
  • Always write objectively as a journalist, avoid subjective references like “I” or “we” other than in a quote.
  • Copy a good newspaper writing style while writing a press release.
  • Follow the K.I.S.S rule, keep it simple and short. If you can put your information in two pages, good, but one page is even better.

Follow up with a call to confirm if the targeted person has received the press release or not.