Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Group Three: Writing Conventions Unique to Digital Media

Like with any new or emerging communication medium, the internet brings with it unique writing conventions that differ from those of traditional media. Through this blogging activity, our group observed some of these conventions first-hand. Here are some of the key writing conventions linked to digital media, and some of the unique attributes of digital media that make it a highly unique communication forum when compared to traditional media.
  • Information Webs - One of the more unique aspects of an online news article (when compared to a stand-alone, print article) is the fact that an online news article can embed links to other websites and articles within an article. A print article in a newspaper can rely only on the information that it alone presents; however, an online news article can include links to other sources, enabling it to become a virtual web of information.
  • Integrated Media - In the traditional media landscape, print, radio, and television remain fairly separate. While a newspaper and a television station could theoretically be linked (for example, they are owned by the same media conglomerate), a print article could not traditionally occur at the same time as a television news segment. However, in digital media, a textual article can be accompanied by a video clip or a sound byte. This "integrated media" platform allows for information to be presented to the viewer through multiple mediums within the same web page.
While there are several positive attributes and conventions to digital media, there are drawbacks as well. Here are a few negative conventions that are emerging in the internet news world.
  • Good Writing vs Bad Writing - In traditional print or broadcast journalism, there are typically editor(s) who can moderate what goes to print. Thus, the writing and production value is trimmed, edited, and polished until it is error-free. However, in the new digital media landscape, technology has allowed for online content channels and web logs to be one-man operations. As a result, the quality of the writing can fall by the wayside. Furthermore, online communication has brought forth "internet shorthand." U c, wen ppl start to talk lik dis in their instant messagez and facebook convos, ppl can start to accept dis style of talkin as accptable for all formz of media communication, lol. but it can get worse wen ppl start acepting dis grammatically incorectz form of dialouge as ok to put in their college paperz 2, as seen in dis ny timez article. thus, these new internetz writin conventions are spillin over into other formz of media!!!1!! dr schuster- do u think this is an ok way to write our blog projectz? lmao :-)
  • Truth vs Falsehood - As producing online content becomes easier and easier, seperating truth from falsehood can become even more difficult. For example, using this extremely simple "Blogger" platform, we can easily create an article that appears legitimate, but is completely false. Example:
President Barack Obama To Replace US Constitution With "Twilight"

In a shocking revelation Wednesday morning, President Barack Obama revealed that he would be legally signing a bill into law that would replace the US Constitution with the teen lit sensation "Twilight."
"The constitution is tired, boring, and outdated," President Obama told Associated Press reporters on the White House lawn, while holding a copy of the bestselling teen vampire novel. "Instead of my proposed health care bill, I suggest that anyone who is sick just goes and sees the new Twilight film to cheer themselves up. I mean, have you read this thing? It's totally awesome."
The new constitution is expected to take effect in February of 2011. It is still unconfirmed as to whether or not President Obama is "Team Edward" or "Team Jacob."

Obviously, this mock article is a completely outlandish example of false internet reporting. However, it demonstrates how easy it is to publish false information online and purport it to be fact. Everything from the photoshopped graphic to the professional-looking quote gives the appearance that this article was created by a legitimate news source.

Internet communicators can fall prey to these digital communication follies - however, there is certainly legitimacy to be found in online reporting. Organized and well-edited online news mediums such as The Huffington Post do exist, and contribute to establishing legitimacy within online news. However, a popular website such as Perez Hilton further contributes to something like "internet shorthand" becoming commonplace in digital media. Hilton is the leading online "Hollywood news" source, and peppers his articles (or, as they are more commonly referred to, "posts") with "LOLs," "WTFs," and various other abbreviations and slang terms.

Ultimately, digital media does indeed have positive attributes and conventions. The ability to create information webs and utilize mixed media in news stories enables the media producers to present their audience with an even wider spectrum of information and content. However, the laissez-faire nature of the internet also gives media communicators carte blanche to present their information in a way that is factually incorrect, grammatically incorrect, or both.

Photo Credit: NewsDaily and Twilight Indonesia


Virtanen, Michael. 13 Oct 2009. "
NY court hears case against gay marriage benefits" Associated Press
13 Oct 2009

Lee, Jennifer. 19 Sept 2002. "Nu Shortcuts in School R 2 Much 4 Teachers" NY Times
13 Oct 2009

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