Shop Talk - August 7
10:25 am
Tue August 7, 2012

Online Paywalls & Journalism

The panelists discuss whether online paywalls are changing the way reporters write their stories.

A piece by Tim Burrowes in Encore magazine points out print journalists have traditionally been taught to follow the story pyramid, in which the most important facts are included at the very beginning of the story, with less and less important details lower in the story. This allowed editors to ax the bottom of the story if the space was needed for another story or an ad.

Burrowes points out most paywalls allow readers to see the headline along with a paragraph or two. Readers must pay if they want to see more of the story. As a result, journalists are using the first few paragraphs to tease the story and are holding back the most important details until later in the piece.

The panelists say this might be another example of how the news industry is being forced to change as more of the audience turns to the web for information. But panelists Rich Egger and Mike Murray point out broadcast stories have been written in this style for decades. Broadcasters use the opening lines to hook the audience and reveal details as the story progresses.