Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Journalism is dead! Long live journalism! Plenty of opportunities online, Chris Wheal tells budding journalists

I've had friends wonder why I'm studying journalism. "It's a dying industry," some say. So it was great to hear experienced journalist Chris Wheal tell our class at the London School of Journalism this month that the shift to a multimedia online world still provides plenty of writing opportunities.

Chris Wheal on his beloved bike
Who is Chris Wheal and why should we listen to him?

Fair question. Before this month I hadn't heard of him before either, but a quick Google search in class - which Chris, or "Whealie" as he is known on Twitter and elsewhere, invited us to do to demonstrate the importance of a good online presence - revealed plenty of information.

Here are a few tidbits from his own website, about Whealie:
  • he's an award-winning freelance journalist, editor, trainer, and consultant; 
  • he was the 2008 British Insurance Brokers' Association business journalist of the year;
  • he's a regular blogger on finance for AOL Money; 
  • he has several other websites, including one focused on motorcycle finance:;
  • he trains journalists and others in writing and online skills.

So, a fairly decent resume for someone who is going to teach us about how to best use online publishing platforms in our role as journalists. 

As someone who has been blogging for five years (you can read my books-focused blog, Crime Watch, here), but had learned about blogging just by trial and error, I found the lecture quite fascinating.

Things that Whealie shared with us that particularly stuck with me following the lecture were:

  • Modern journalists need to proactively craft a great online presence;
  • Online journalism needs to be short - write half as much as for print;
  • The importance of headlines, the first 60 characters, and key words for searchability (therefore having to rewrite the introductions to print pieces that may be republished online, for SEO purposes);
  • Content is still king, and there are plenty of opportunities for online writing and multimedia journalism.
I'm looking forward to learning more as we move forward, so I can go from one well-written hobby blog to a more professional online presence with a variety of blogs and websites.