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Essential reading for online journalists

Here are a few of my favorite textbooks for teaching online journalism at university level. I spent many hours last semester hunting high and low for good resource material.

Note: If you’re after Amazon links – most of these books are listed in the side panel of this site. I’ve ordered many of these books for the library at Southampton Solent Uni. 

Ok, here we go…

1) The best general textbook:
Foust, J, (2005) Online Journalism: Principles and Practices of News For The Web.

Foust on Amazon

Jim Foust (Bowling Green State University) has written easily the best general textbook about Online Journalism (aka Publishing 2.0). It’s like a "conversion course" for students who have already acquired basic editorial skills. It takes what they already know about writing for print and shows how these skills can be applied online. Topics discussed include: practical writing skills, a very basic intro to HTML and design skills using Dreamweaver. It also discusses legal & ethical issues and has a good section on blogs. 
A truly "converged" journalist has the skills to write blog text, record a podcast, use a digital camera and edit video clips – Foust addresses all of this.
I would liked to have seen a greater discussion of content management systems (CMS), after all it’s rare for online journalists to design sites from scratch.
My only other complaint is that most of the examples are from US publications and the book is quite expensive for students (about £30).
You can read a detailed review of Foust in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly. The book also has an accompanying website containing many links.

2) A fantastic guide to the way the industry is moving:
Quinn, S, (2005) Convergent Journalism: An Introduction.

Quinn on Amazon

I’m a big fan of Quinn’s Digital Sub-Editing and Design. Convergent Journalism explains how a single story can fulfill its potential through any media channel. The chapters cover an overview of the various skills needed in broadcast and web production. It also has sections on the use of graphics, digital photography and digital video. There is also a particularly important section on advertising revenue systems, which all journalist students must understand.
It’s a highly practical and very readable overview, but students will need more depth. 

3) Writing skills for the web… 
Wulfemeyer (2006), Online Newswriting.

Wulfemeyer on Amazon

 This is a strange fish. Packed full of class exercises, this guides students through the essential skills for online news writing. It’s pretty detailed, but I feel it spends too much time discussing general journalism writing skills (not specifically to do with the web).
It provides a solid introduction to journalism writing skills and has an overview of online legal issues.

4) The technical stuff – Basic Web Design
Coley (2002), How to Use Dreamweaver 8 and Fireworks 7 (How to Use).

Coley on Amazon

Don’t be a Dummy, unless you particularly enjoy being patronised. Advanced users will want to get hold of Macromedia Dreamweaver 8 (Visual Quickstart Guide) by Negrino. Coley’s book is far more visual and project based. It suits students who haven’t done any web design before. You also won’t need to buy a separate book on Fireworks. If this book is too advanced, try Dreamweaver 8 in Easy Steps by Vandome for a straightforward introduction.

5) Creating sites that work
Nielsen, J, (2006) Prioritizing Web Usability

Nielsen on Amazon

I interviewed the guru of usability a few years back. Since then he’s made a load of cash advising companies how to create web sites that are easy to use. A lot of his advice seems like common sense, yet an alarming number of news web sites still have confusing navigation systems and terrible search engines (e.g. Guardian Unlimited). Nielsen’s written loads of other books on usability. Krug, S, (2005) Don’t Make Me Think is another fantastic text.

6) Other really important stuff
Everyone should own a copy – Dan Gillmor  – We The Media,
Meyer – The Vanishing Newspaper
Trippi – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

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