Ibrahimokinda’s Weblog


Posted on: October 24, 2008





·          Website: A site (location) on the World Wide Web. Each Web site contains a home page, which is the first document users see when they enter the site. The site might also contain additional documents and files. Each site is owned and managed by an individual, company or organization.

·          Web page: A document on the World Wide Web. Every Web page is identified by a unique URL (Uniform Resource Locator).

·          Home page: The main page of a Web site. Typically, the home page serves as an index or table of contents to other documents stored at the site.

·          Web design is a process of conceptualization, planning, modeling, and execution of electronic media content delivery via Internet in the form of technologies (such as markup languages) suitable for interpretation and display by a web browser or other web-based graphical user interfaces (GUIs).

·          Hyperlink: A string of clickable  text or a clickable graphic that points to another web page or document. When the hyperlink is selected, another web page is requested, retrieved, and rendered by the browser.

·          Hypertext: Web pages that have hyperlinks to other pages.



The term website refers to as series of interconnected web pages, usually created and operated by one individual or organization.. A website can  also be defined as a collection of web pages on the WWW that contains useful information and belongs to an individual or organization. A web page is described as a computer file with information in text format and/or graphics, audio and video that is available through a specific website. Stages that can be followed to ensure the effective planning, design and maintenance of a website include the following.


1. Determine the need for a website

Before embarking on developing a website, a needs analysis need to be conducted. This analysis involves the following aspects:

Available resources

Resources needed to develop the website

Motivation for developing the website


Questions to ask during this needs analysis

For which aspect/s of the website development is funding necessary?

How is the website going to be financed?

Who will manage the website?

What resources will be necessary to develop and monitor the website?

Can the website be developed within the constraints of the budget and human resources available?

What type of computer and network facilities will be required?

How will it influence personnel roles and responsibilities?

What is the purpose of this website?

What requirements does the user group have for the website?

How will the website impact on the existing media products and services?

How will the availability of the website influence users who do not have access to the Internet?

What training will be needed to ensure the effective use of the website by staff members and end-users a like?

What technical support and expertise be available to help with the development and maintenance of the website?

What are the benefits of a website for the news media firm?

Answers to the above questions should be gathered from all members of staff, senior management of the governing institution of the media frm, as well the intended users of the website. Based on the answers, the media firm will determine whether its feasible to continue with the plan of developing a website.


2.  Define the purpose of the website

Purpose refers to the reason why a website is being created. A website should have a clearly defined purpose that is known to the creator and audience. The purpose statement should explain why the website was created and what it will mean to the user. The purpose should include the reason for creating the website, as well as what should be achieved by the website.In a nutshell information included in a purpose statement should include the following:

·          A reason or reasons for the decision to create the website

·          Resources and benefits available on the website to the end user.



Some of the reasons for creating a website are:

·          To make electronic information sources available to the end-user

·          To market the services provided by an individual or organization

·          To provide end-users with links to other sources not available in the organization.


Reasons and benefits for creating a website for users are:

·          Online information sources can be downloaded from the web

·          Website can provide end-users with direct links to very specific information on certain aspects e.g. stocks.

Purpose of the website

It is essential to define the purpose of the website as one of the first steps in the planning process. A purpose statement should show focus based on what the website will accomplish and what the users will get from it. A clearly defined purpose will help the rest of the planning process as the audience is identified and the content of the site is developed. Setting short and long term goals for the website will help make the purpose clear and plan for the future when expansion, modification, and improvement will take place. Also, goal-setting practices and measurable objectives should be identified to track the progress of the site and determine success.


3. Plan the website

The previous stage prepares you to understand the need for creating a website. This next step involves planning of the objectives of the website, policies and procedures that will influence the website and decisions about the organizational structure of the website.


One way to begin the pre-planning stage is brainstorming sessions with staff and other interested people.The specific steps in planning the website include the following:


(a) Choose the web design team

 The development and maintenance of a website should not be the responsibility of only one staff member. A team of people comprising of experts and  also other staff members is needed. The team may include: a webmaster, an editor, a graphic design expert, a computer expert, staff members familiar with the area for which the website is being prepared. Team members should knowlwledge on HTML and Internet operation.


The most important person in the team is a webmaster. This is the overall manager responsible for the design, development and maintenance of the website. His/her responsibilities include the following:

i)         Act as a negotiator between web authors and computer experts

ii)       Act as a negotiator between web authors and the graphic designer

iii)      Oversee the editorial responsibilities for the content, quality and style of the website.

iv)      Check consistency of document information

v)       Find and install tools to create the web content

vi)      Support users in the use of the website.


(b) Identify the end-user group and needs

Web users in a virtual environment include users from both the internal, local and global community. No website can adequately cater for the needs of the global community. Thus, there is need to identify a specific user group or groups on which the website should focus on. This can be achieved through brainstorming in which users can be divided into primary and secondary users.


Primary users are those end-users who will be those users who will access the web on a regular basis and use the available information to meet their specific needs. Secondary users include those who may stumble upon the website by accident, or were led to it by a hyperlink.  


A complete list of primary and secondary end-users should be compiled. It is definite that the website to be created will focus mainly to primary users. These primary users may also be too many and therefore the need to identify those specific primary users to which the website will focus. Primary users can be categorized on the basis of certain characteristics such as age. Education, or interests.


After identifying the primary users to focus on, the website creator should seek to establish the needs of each user category.

Website audience

Defining the audience is a key step in the website planning process. The audience is the group of people who are expected to visit your website – the market being targeted. These people will be viewing the website for a specific reason and it is important to know exactly what they are looking for when they visit the site. A clearly defined purpose or goal of the site as well as an understanding of what visitors want to do or feel when they come to your site will help to identify the target audience. Upon considering who is most likely to need or use the content, a list of characteristics common to the users such as:

  • Audience Characteristics
  • Information Preferences
  • Computer Specifications
  • Web Experience

Taking into account the characteristics of the audience will allow an effective website to be created that will deliver the desired content to the target audience.

(c ) Formulate a vision statement

A vision statement is necessary to assist the web design team in focusing  on the needs of the identified primary categories of end-users and on methods of fulfilling those needs. It will also assist the web design team to write the website objectives.


A vision statement for a website should be based on the following:

·          The categories of primary end-users

·          The purpose of the website

·          How end-users will access the website


(d) Write specific goals and objectives for the website

Goals  are described as targets or ends that the manager wants to reach. They should be specific, challenging and realistic. The term objective is described as the translation of goals into definite measurable targets with standards of performances and achievements of both the organization and individuals.


The compilation of goals that should be reached by the website will assist the web design team in gathering and providing access to relevant information and sources that will satisfy the needs of primary end-users. Objectives will guide the web design team to the achievement of goals. The aim of the objectives us to guide the development process of the project and therefore time frames and responsible people should be included. For every objective of a goal a responsible person should be appointed.


(e) Write a policy for the website

A policy for the website is necessary to decide on the information to be included in a website, as well  as on the external sources to which hyperlinks will be created.  The following aspects should be included in the policy:

·          A general statement on reasons for the creation of website

·          A statement explaining that the website information is additional to existing services and sources

·          A statement that explains the website is not responsible for: the content of the web the accuracy of information found on the web.

·          A statement related to connectivity and web access that’s how end-users will be able to access the website.

·          A statement on the assistance and training of staff and end-users on the effective use of the website. The statement should outline computer ethics, netiquette, and skills required to us the website effectively

·          A statement relating to ethics and netiquette expected of organizations linked to the website.

·          A statement on the information that will be made available on the website

·          A statement linked to information that will not, because of security reasons,be made available on the website.


4 Gather and organize information

At this stage every member of the personnel of the organization will know why the website is to be developed and has given his/her input in the brainstorming of visions, objectives and policies for the website during the pre-planning stage. From this stage only the web design team will be responsible for the development of the website. However, expertise from any staff member not part of the web design team can be called in at any time.


The aim of this stage is to gather and organize all information that should be included on the website. The following general information should be included in a website:

·          The purpose of the website

·          Information about the organization such as its vision, mission, target audience, staff members and contact details

·          Hyperlinks to interesting and related websites and related websites, search engines and directories


After gathering the relevant information that should be included in the website, the next step is to put it down on paper. Each piece of a paper should represent a web page and should only contain one topic. The text on each  piece should be structured into headings, paragraphs, lists, tables, etc. to enhance the reading process.


The next step will be to decide how to structure these pages. You can choose between three structural methods.

(i)                              Hierachical method:  Websites follow a hierachical or tree-like structure have one point of entry to the website and other pages that branch out from this link. This approach  can be used if pages can be grouped easily into categories and subcategories. Having this structure of pages can be a problem for users who want to view information on the lowest level and are not interested in the information in between.The users accessing the website that is hierachically structured will have to go  through all category pages before reaching the information required.

(ii)                            Linear method:  If you want users to read web content as they would read a book, or when you need users to follow a specific from information from beginning to end, you might choose  a linear design.  Users need to progress from one page to another to work through web pages. The problem with this method is that users may be looking for specific information and might get frustrated to view all the pages to find what they are looking for.

(iii)                          Web method: A weblike organization probably works best for most people. With this structure web pages are linked to one another where they relate contextually.


There are many several links to a single page and every page usually has at least two links.





5 Design the website

Design the webpages in such a way that they enhance unity and usability. Designing  a website refers to the development of a mental plan or a preliminary sketch of the website. Take time to design where website because of two reasons:

·          The website represents the professionalism and skills found within the organization

·          A well-designed website makes it easy for users to locate and retrieve information.


(i)                              Textual design criteria

The title page should consist of the following:

o         The title of the website with enough information to clearly define it

o         The purpose or intention of the website

o         The content of the website

o         Date of creation

o         Name and e-mail address of the webmaster

o         Last updated date

o         URL of the web page

o          A link to the governing institution home page if applicable

o         Logo of the organization

o         Contact details of the organization (telephone number, postal address, physical address, fax number)

o         Navigational buttons to get out of the site and to move around inside


·          Clearly defined titles on pages.

·          Headings to make important text stand out.

·          Items organized in lists should be in a logical hierarchy that’s only elements of equal standing should be put together.

·          Limited use of capital letter, for it restrict the smooth reading process.

·          Lists used where necessary to help the reader scan through main points on a page to  determine the relevance of the page.

·          No spelling mistakes allowed.

·          Sections of the text   that flow smoothly from one to the other to adhere to the conversation of the reader’s eyes

·          Sentences that are not too long are written in the active voice.

·          The effective use of bold and italic to set off a word or phrase.

·          The limited use of central text, for it limits the flow of reading between sections.

·          The use of font types that support the information and are compatible with most computer program software


Example of a website that includes all the above features is http://cflc.net


(ii)                            Structural design

·          A good overall design has the following three traits:

·          It has unity and variety

·          It supports but does not overpower the message

·          It is appropriate to the particular message being conveyed.


·          All the pages should fit together into a recognizable whole but at the same there is enough variety to keep each page interesting.


·          Choose a logo carefully, stick with it and use it throughout the site.


·          Colours and fonts  should be consistent throughout every section of the site.


·          A background colour that is not disturbing to the eye and that supports the reading of the text should be used.


·          Each section of the text should be accessible through navigational buttons. These buttons should be available on every page of the website.


·          Do not use overwhelmingly visual and auditory objects.


·          A good website should support user control- that is  the end user gets to choose what he/she wants to view and when to view it.


·          A map or table of the site content should be available to orientate users on the layout and structure of the site.


·          Colours, borders and lines should be used consistently and sparingly.


·          Hyperlinks should be visible and clear and limited to only five per page.


·          Images and graphics used should have meaning i.e. they should help the user to understand the message being conveyed.


·          A sequence of images that tells the story will attract more attention than single images scattered throughout  the website.


·          Striking images and graphics create interesting websites that invite people to interact with them.


·          Do not use graphics that take too long to download for it will frustrate the user and he/she will close the site.


·          Tables should only be used for tabular data.


·          Colour graphics and images attract more attention than black and white images.




(iii)                          General guidelines for web page design


·          Make sure that the home page stands out. The first impression is a lasting impression.

·          Make pages interesting. Keep the audience attention by providing updated information.

·          Do not overdo graphics. Too much graphics can sway the audience from the text on the site. Graphics irritate users if they are displayed when an audience wants to  view information (text).

·          Do not fill the entire screen with one graphic. It is good to give users some text to look at while graphics are been downloaded.

·          Ensure a visible site structure on every page by means of the availability of navigational buttons. Every web page should provide a navigational framework to lead users back and forward to topics discussed in the website.

·          Important information should be displayed at the top of the page (its more visible) to keep the audience attention.

·          Use hyperlinks only when necessary. Users can get distructed by these hyperlinks and even get lost never to find out how to get the original website.

·          Let websites growth from a health ecology that acknowledges and welcomes contributions from communicators, designers, editors, management and users.


Web design

The intent of web design is to create a web site (a collection of electronic files residing on one or more web servers) that presents content (including interactive features or interfaces) to the end user in the form of web pages once requested. Such elements as text, forms, and bit-mapped images (GIFs, JPEGs, PNGs) can be placed on the page using HTML, XHTML, or XML tags. Displaying more complex media (vector graphics, animations, videos, sounds) requires plug-ins such as Flash, QuickTime, Java run-time environment, etc. Plug-ins are also embedded into web pages by using HTML or XHTML tags.


Typically web pages are classified as static or dynamic.

·         Static pages don’t change content and layout with every request unless a human (web master or programmer) manually updates the page.

·         Dynamic pages adapt their content and/or appearance depending on the end-user’s input or interaction or changes in the computing environment (user, time, database modifications, etc.) Content can be changed on the client side (end-user’s computer) by using client-side scripting languages (JavaScript, JScript, Actionscript, media players and PDF reader plug-ins, etc.) to alter DOM elements (DHTML). Dynamic content is often compiled on the server utilizing server-side scripting languages (Coldfusion, ASP, JSP, Perl, PHP, Python, etc.). Both approaches are usually used in complex applications.

With growing specialization within communication design and information technology fields, there is a strong tendency to draw a clear line between web design specifically for web pages and web development for the overall logistics of all web-based services.

There are many aspects (design concerns) in this process, and due to the rapid development of the Internet, new aspects may emerge. For non-commercial web sites, the goals may vary depending on the desired exposure and response. For typical commercial web sites, the basic aspects of design are:

·         The content: the substance, and information on the site should be relevant to the site and should target the area of the public that the website is concerned with.

·         The usability: the site should be user-friendly, with the interface and navigation simple and reliable.

·         The appearance: the graphics and text should include a single style that flows throughout, to show consistency. The style should be professional, appealing and relevant.

·         The visibility: the site must also be easy to find via most, if not all, major search engines and advertisement media.

A web site typically consists of text and images. The first page of a web site is known as the Home page or Index. Some web sites use what is commonly called a Splash Page. Splash pages might include a welcome message, language or region selection, or disclaimer. Each web page within a web site is an HTML file which has its own URL. After each web page is created, they are typically linked together using a navigation menu composed of hyperlinks. Faster browsing speeds have led to shorter attention spans and more demanding online visitors and this has resulted in less use of Splash Pages, particularly where commercial web sites are concerned.

Once a web site is completed, it must be published or uploaded in order to be viewable to the public over the internet. This may be done using an FTP client. Once published, the web master may use a variety of techniques to increase the traffic, or hits, that the web site receives. This may include submitting the web site to a search engine such as Google or Yahoo, exchanging links with other web sites, creating affiliations with similar web sites, etc.

Web accessibility

To be accessible, web pages and sites must conform to certain accessibility principles. These can be grouped into the following main areas:

  • use semantic markup that provides a meaningful structure to the document (i.e. web page)
  • Semantic markup also refers to semantically organizing the web page structure and publishing web services description accordingly so that they can be recognized by other web services on different web pages. Standards for semantic web are set by IEEE
  • use a valid markup language that conforms to a published DTD or Schema
  • provide text equivalents for any non-text components (e.g. images, multimedia)
  • use hyperlinks that make sense when read out of context. (e.g. avoid “Click Here.”)
  • don’t use frames
  • use CSS rather than HTML Tables for layout.
  • author the page so that when the source code is read line-by-line by user agents (such as a screen readers) it remains intelligible. (Using tables for design will often result in information that is not.)

Web page design

When  designing a web page, remember to keep the reader’s attentions by using the following:

(i)       Keep your paragraphs short.

(ii)     Use boldface and italics more than you would in print, to highlight key words and phrases that may catch a reader’s attention.

(iii)    Insert more headings than you would use in print

(iv)    Break out lists (bulleted or numbered) whenever you have more than two parallel phrases or clauses.


Vertical Navigation

There’s still a lot of newspaper sites that use vertical navigation, including all the Tribune-wide site redesigns. The NYTimes shook design trends (that were moving to horizontal nav.) with their redesign last year when they integrated vertical navigation on their homepage. Although their site changes to horizontal navigation whenever you click inside the site, so it’s kind of a mixed bag. The UK Telegraph’s recent redesign also integrates a hybrid horizontal and vertical navigation.

I’m still perplexed by vertical nav. (If you can explain it’s major benefits, please do so!) It may just be a legacy format, but so were animated gifs and we don’t use those anymore because better practices emerged. I just don’t really see the logic here putting a static object like navigation in the area with the hottest views–the F-Shape! And I really don’t understand why you’d want to bury some of your navigation ‘below the fold.’

Perhaps one benefit to vertical nav is there might be a slight SEO boost for having it buit static into the site, rather than as an item in a CSS list. And well, the flip side of the F-shape argument could hold water. (’Put your static navigation where users are going to look for sure.’)

Overall, I’m a reader that digs big pictures. Big video. Wide views. And any static elements that cut that content well down aren’t cool in my book. It’s like advertising. I just gloss over it. (That is, if I actually had to look at ads and didn’t use Firefox and the greatest invention since the Internet — AdBlock Plus.)

More Vertical Navigation examples:

Horizontal Roll Over Navigation

This decade, as CSS was widely adopted, many sites integrated the roll over navigation offering deep links into their content. This style still persists on many sites and definitely gets the job done.

Traditionally the options for this roll out vertically once the site viewer rolls over the link, but a new version with a second horizontal bar showcasing the second-tier options is making its way around the net.

More Horizontal Roll Over examples:

Basic Horizontal Navigation

Normally, I’m all for simplicity. Newspaper sites need it. But having a horizontal navigation without roll over limits you to at about only 12 options for deep linking (including advertising’s four — Homes, Jobs, Autos and Classifieds).

Most* of Scripps Newspapers sites are big on this with their corporate template and while I appreciate the cleanliness, we need to offer deep utility. (* = The Rocky Mountain News uses roll overs and is a linked example above)

The logic behind static roll over confuses me less than vertical navigation, but it’s still perplexing that on a website with 10,000+* pages of content, why wouldn’t you want to at least give readers an option to go deep and find that content from the home page? ( * = This would include articles, bridge pages, blogs, section level pages, multimedia, etc. and vastly depends on your company’s content archiving policy, so it could easily flex to hundreds of thousands of pages if you don’t expire articles after 7 – 30 days, as most sites do.)

Or maybe the Simple Horizontal Navigation is really, really brilliant. Brilliant like MySpace’s page inflating site design, which makes people have to click multiple times to get deep into your site. Bean counters love it. Brilliant!

What about the audience though?

I just don’t buy that people are going to work that hard to find your content. I subscribe to Tim Harrower’s old school design belief that anything deeper than 3 clicks and you’ve lost most people (I’d wager my paycheck that by forcing them to click a fourth time you’ve lost 70 percent of the audience. And I’d bet two paychecks that you’ll lose 97 percent for those on slow dsl or dial-up). I’m talking about the casual, daily reader surfing around (not someone not looking for the article that mentions their son by name). They don’t have to wait and dig through your site when the entire Internet is easier, quicker, more entertaining and only click away.

More Basic Horizontal Navigation examples:


Site Map Navigation

The newest newspaper website navigation trend is, what I’m calling (because I haven’t seen a industry term yet), Site Map Navigation.

It’s Horizontal Roll Over Navigation, on steroids.

Using a horizontal roll over navigation, some sites are blowing out that roll over box to really showcase all the content and related sections available deep within the site. This essentially provides sitemap above the fold, on the home page without calling it a “site map” or some other insane jargon word that my mom (or other casual users) wouldn’t understand.

This method also helps combat the challenge of having immense levels of content and only one home page to showcase it on (which must be updated and changed constantly). AND it if done right, it can organize related content together so readers can understand what else is out on your site.


1.        Is there a central eye-catching element on each page twice as big as any other screen element. May be the banner across the top is that element, May be your lead story or the graphic accompanying the lead feature.

2.        Is there an overwhelming element on the page that is not the main point of the page? Research by Poynter Institute(www.poynter.org) shows that web users scan pages from left to right And do they do so is seconds, usually resting on the element that is the strongest-biggest, most colourful, or most arresting emotionally.You must decide if that where you want audience to focus on first.

3.        Is there a clear visual hierarchy or do people’s eyes roam around wildly looking for a place to focus?

4.        Do the size and weight of the graphic elements vary?

5.        Are the colours complementary?

6.        Are the colours and tones with the mood and point of the story?

7.        Does each page have a texture or depth?

8.        Does the text completely avoid the use of italics?

9.        Is the text limited to 10-15 words across the screen?

10.     Are the links strong, clear teases and words?


My favorite live example so far is TampaBay.com and SacBee.com, who both not only get a lot of deep links in there but organize the content in logical chunks under each site sections so

As a professional web design business, we have created and re-created many sites. The “great” ones have certain things in common. We thought we’d share those elements with you…

1. Readability (Easy to read). If background colors or images are used, the text on top of the background should be in a color that can easily be seen. Use a color scheme that complements and is pleasing to the eye. White space between images and sections of text make a page easier to view.

2. Easy to navigate. A visitor should be able to find the information they are looking for without hassle and frustration. The site’s navigation buttons should be grouped together. If image links are used, text links should also be provided for those people who have images turned off on their browser or are using an older browser that doesn’t support images.

3. Comfortably viewed. A Web site should be easily viewable in all screen sizes without a visitor having to scroll horizontally (left to right).

4. Quick to download. Graphics and sounds add download time to a Web page. Use them sparingly. Don’t make your visitors wait too long for your site to download or they will click away and probably won’t return. It is a good idea to find out what the approximate download times are for people who are using 28K and 56K telephone modems. Not everyone has DSL or cable Internet.

5. Avoid dead links. Make sure that links on all your pages are working, whether they are internal links to pages within your site, or links to external Web sites.

6. Keep the content fresh. People are more apt to return to your Web site if they find new and interesting material. Post articles on your site, offer a newly updated “Internet Special” or provide fresh, helpful links. All these things cause visitors to bookmark your site as a reference tool.

7. Clear and to the point. Visitors should have a clear understanding of what your Web site is about when they visit. Studies have shown that people do not like to read computer screens, so keep your Web site copy interesting to read and to the point.

8. Keep your target audience in mind. Think about the people who would be interested in visiting your Web site. If you are designing a web site about razor blades and shaving cream for men, the site should have a masculine feel to it. Decorating the page with pink hearts and roses would not be a good idea!

9. Provide a form for visitors to contact you. Visitors are more likely to fill out a form to contact you than clicking on an e-mail link. Always make things easy for your visitors… especially contacting you.

10. Browser compatible. Check your Web site in the most popular browsers to make sure everything is displayed properly. The top two browsers used are Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator, but there are others such as the AOL browser, Mosaic, Opera and Web TV to name a few. Various versions of the same browser also display differently. It is a good idea to have a program on your computer that checks browser and version compatibility.

As you may have noticed from the above list, a great Web site isn’t about fancy graphics, java scripts and animations. It is about creating a pleasurable, useful experience for your visitors… one they will want to repeat over and over again!


One of the elements of good web design is a lack of the elements that make bad web design. If you stay away from everything listed on the page about dorky web pages, you’ve probably got a pretty nice web site. In addition, keep these concepts in mind:


Background does not interrupt the text

Text is big enough to read, but not too big

The hierarchy of information is perfectly clear

Columns of text are narrower than in a book to make reading easier on the screen



Navigation buttons and bars are easy to understand and use

Navigation is consistent throughout web site

Navigation buttons and bars provide the visitor with a clue as to where they are, what page of the site they are currently on

Frames, if used, are not obtrusive

A large site has an index or site map



Link colors coordinate with page colors

Links are underlined so they are instantly clear to the visitor



Buttons are not big and dorky

Every graphic has an alt label

Every graphic link has a matching text link

Graphics and backgrounds use browser-safe colors

Animated graphics turn off by themselves


General Design

Pages download quickly

First page and home page fit into 640 x 460 pixel space

All of the other pages have the immediate visual impact within 640 x 460 pixels

Good use of graphic elements (photos, subheads, pull quotes) to break up large areas of text

Every web page in the site looks like it belongs to the same site; there are repetitive elements that carry throughout the pages

Planning your website in Macromedia Dreamweaver

In general, the website planning process consists of six main steps:

1.        Setting web site goals

2.        Defining web site audience

3.        Creating web site structure

4.        Planning web site content

5.        Generating web site navigation plan

6.        Developing web site visual design

7.        Generating web site development plan

Planning your Web site design

When you begin thinking about creating a Web site, you should follow a series of planning steps to make sure your site is successful. Even if you are just creating a personal home page that only friends and family will see, it can still be to your advantage to plan the site carefully in order to make sure everyone will be able to use it easily.

Creating goals for your site : Deciding what your site goals are should be the first step you take when creating a Web site. Ask yourself, or your client, about what you hope to accomplish by having a Web site. Write down your goals so that you remember them as you go through the design process. Goals help you focus and target your Web site to your particular needs.

A Web site that provides news about a specific subject should have a different look and navigation than a Web site that sells products. The complexity of your goals will affect the navigation, the media that you use (Macromedia Flash, Macromedia Director, and so on), and even the look and feel of your site.

Organizing the site structure: Organizing your site carefully from the start can save you frustration and time later on. If you begin creating documents without thinking about where in your folder hierarchy they should go, you may end up with a huge, unwieldy folder full of files, or with related files scattered through a half-dozen similarly named folders.

The usual way to set up a site is to create a folder on your local hard disk that contains all the files for your site (referred to as the local site), and to create and edit documents within that folder. You then copy those files to a Web server when you are ready to publish your site and allow the public to view it. This approach is better than creating and editing files on the live public Web site itself, because it allows you to test changes in the local site before making them publicly viewable. When you’re finished, you can upload the local site files and update the entire public site at once.

Break down your site into categories and put related pages in the same folder. For example, your company press releases, contact information, and job postings might all go in one folder, but your online catalog pages might go in a different folder. Use subfolders where necessary. This type of organization will make your site easier to maintain and navigate.

Decide where to put items such as images and sound files. For example, it’s convenient to place all your images in one location, so that when you want to insert an image into a page, you know where to find it. Designers sometimes place all of the non-HTML items to be used on a site in a folder called Assets. This folder may contain other folders—for example, an Images folder, a Macromedia Shockwave folder, and a Sound folder. Or you might have a separate Assets folder for each group of related pages on your site, if there aren’t many assets shared among such groups.

Use the same structure for local and remote sites. Your local site and your remote Web site should have exactly the same structure. If you create a local site using Macromedia Dreamweaver and then upload everything to the remote site, Dreamweaver ensures that the local structure is precisely duplicated in the remote site.

Creating your design look: You can save a lot of time later if you plan your design and layout before you begin working in Dreamweaver. You can simply create a mock-up drawing on paper of how you want the site layout to look and then follow it as you build your site; or you can create a composite drawing of your site using software such as Macromedia FreeHand or Macromedia Fireworks.

Maintaining consistency in your page layout and design helps to ensure a good user experience. The user should be able to click through the pages in your site without getting confused. If all the pages have a different look, or the navigation is in a different place on each page, it might frustrate the user. Make sure your site provides a consistent look for your user.

Designing the navigation scheme: As you design your site, think about the experience you want your visitors to have. Think about how a visitor to your site will be able to move from one area to another. Navigation should be consistent throughout your site. If you place a navigation bar across the top of your home page, try to keep it there for all the linked pages. Consider the following points:

·          Visitors should know where they are in your site and how to return to your top-level page.

·          Search features and indexes make it easier for visitors to find information they are looking for.

·          Feedback features provide a way for visitors to contact the Webmaster (if appropriate) if something is wrong with the site, and to contact other relevant people associated with the company or the site.

Planning and gathering your assets : Once you know what your design and layout will look like, you can create and gather the assets that you will need. Assets can be items such as images, text, or media (Flash, Shockwave, and so on). Make sure you have all of these items gathered and ready to go before you begin developing your site. Otherwise, you’ll have to continually stop development to find an image or to create a button.

If you are using images and graphics from a clip-art site or someone else is creating them, make sure you collect them and put them in a folder on your site. If you are creating the assets yourself, make sure you create them all before you start development, including any images you need if you are using roll-overs. Then organize your assets so you can access them easily while creating your site in Dreamweaver.

You can reuse page layouts and page elements in various documents by using templates and libraries in Dreamweaver. However, it is easier to create new pages with templates and libraries than it is to apply them to existing documents.

Use templates if many of your pages will use the same layout. Plan and design a template for that layout, and then you can create new pages based on that template. If you decide to change the layout for all the pages, you can simply change the template.


6 Write the web document

After web pages have been organized and relevant logo’s, graphics, navigational buttons and other design aspects have been added, the actual web document construction can begin. You use HTML or an author software program for this  purpose.

·          Create templates for your home page and main pages

·          Design your home page and include links to all main pages

·          Write pages that link to the home page

·          Write sub-pages that link to the main pages

·          Add navigational links from page to page.


This stage is perfomed in collaboration with the graphic designer and computer expert to ensure that the suggested design and layout are compatible with the hardware and software of the browser and server.



7 Test the webpage

Test the website before going live with it. Staff members and selected end-users can be asked to test the site and make sure that:

·          Important information is prominent in the website

·          Information is organized in such a way that users can find it easily

·          Hypetext links are functioning as they should

·          No spelling and grammar mistakes appear

·          Graphic and textual   consistency between pages occur

·          The website is displayed satisfactoryily on different browsers.


Ask your testers what they like most  and least about your site and what information they have difficulty finding, as well as any information not included that they would have liked to find. If need be rearrange, redesign, and reorganize your site.



8 Publish the website

Publishing a website refers to the act of making a website known to the intended users.


Once the web pages have been created and tested thoroughly, they have to be published by putting them on a web server. You can published your news website on the organization’s server or by paying for disk storage space on a commercially  run server.



When choosing a web space supplier consider the following:

·          How much  in terms of megabytes does the  supplier offer?

·          What server software does the supplier use and what is the speed of connection to the Internet?

·          What extras may be available e.g. access to scripting?

·          What support facilities are offered?

·           What type of conferencing system is used for customer report and sort out problems?

The server on which the website will be available will either provide a URL to the website or will provide the webmaster with the chance of creating one.



9 Promote the website

Launch the existence of your website to the rest of the world.  Some of the common ways the website include the following:

·          Register your home page with most popular search engines and directories on the web. This will ensure that  people looking for something like the your page will be able to find it. Get listed with various search engines. Most of them have a link on their home page for this  purpose.

·          Get other webmasters to establish links from their pages to yours. Contact individuals and organizations which would like to establish links to your website. The webmaster can reciprocate by putting links in the web pages to theirs.

·          Add the URL of the website to a web ring, a group of sites on one topic, which form a chain of connecting links.

·          Use appropriate mailing lists and newsgroups to announce the website.

·          List the website in the sig (signature file) that you attach your e-mail messages. That way anyone who receives mail from you will know you have a web page.

·          Have business cards printed with your URL on them and include  your URL on all printed correspondence you send. When you advertise in print or broadcast media, include your URL in all the ads. Abbreviation of Uniform Resource Locator, the global address of documents and other resources on the World Wide Web.

·          Consider using a  mailing list search engine (such as Liszt at www.lisct.com/) to find a list suitable for announcing  your pages.

·          If your pages focus on  a particular topic or subject area, consider joining or starting a webring to steer like-minded people toward your site (http://nav.webring.com/)  for details. Webrings provide an organized way to trade links with other sites closely related to yours without any cost t you. Also spelled “Webring,” a series of Web sites linked together in a “ring” that by clicking through all of the sites in the ring the visitor will eventually come back to the originating site. All of the sites within the ring share a similar topic or purpose. There are Web rings on topics such as computer games and technology, hobbies such as quilting or stamp collecting, sports, traveling, pop culture, music, cars, etc. Web rings are a way for sites to generate more traffic by encouraging users to visit the other sites within the ring. Sites in the ring typically have an icon or graphic that indicates that it is part of a specific Web ring and visitors have the option of choosing the “next” or “previous” site in the ring.


10 Evaluate web usage


Attracting users is one thing but ensuring they are using your website is another.Evaluation help determine how successfully the website is being used by end-users. Evaluation of the site  usage can be done in one of the two ways:

·          Servers keep a usage log, indicating the time and location to which information was send. The log provides an indication of how many users visited the site and what information they were interested in.

·          If such a log does not exist, usage can be tracked with a page counter. You may have noticed on a website: “You are  visitor 123 to this site.”


The log helps the webmaster to determine where the information from the website is requested and in what information a particular end-user has been interested. It provides an overview of the significant and unnecessary information. Thus, more information can be put to expand the important information and irrelevant information removed.


Website Usage Monitoring and Evaluation

Website usage monitoring involves the collection of information about how a website is being used. Evaluation is the analysis of the usage-monitoring information to assess the success of an online service in fulfilling or meeting business goals. Key tools or techniques in usage monitoring and evaluation include surveys, focus groups, usability testing and website statistics.

The monitoring and evaluation process is an important way of ensuring that the website meets the business needs of departments and agencies as well as the needs of users. As with other government programs, monitoring and evaluation of the usage of websites and other e-government initiatives form part of agencies’ corporate governance responsibilities.

The process has a range of potential advantages. These include reducing the risk of budget or scope blow-out by helping to target and refine the scope of website activities, such as redevelopment and site marketing, to ensure that the site delivers maximum benefits at an acceptable cost.

Results can also reveal changes in usage patterns, such as reduced number of visitors.

Summary of Checkpoints


Develop and implement policies on the monitoring and evaluation of websites

When developing business cases and objectives for future services, ensure that they facilitate monitoring and evaluation

Ensure that usage monitoring and evaluation activities are undertaken in accordance with privacy principles


Before starting

Review the objectives of the site or service to be monitored and evaluated

Consider which aspects of the site’s usage should be monitored and evaluated

Schedule monitoring and evaluation throughout the product lifecycle



Consider the use of online surveys

Consider the use of focus groups

Consider user testing

Consider website statistics

Consider web-reporting software or services

Provide a variety of mechanisms for users to give feedback online



11 Maintain the website

To keep the site uptodate the webmaster should regularly review and/or add information and links. E-mail links and web-based forms can be created and made available to give users the chance to make suggestions.



Posted on August 14th, 2007
Erin Teeling in Newspaper Study

As a follow-up to our research on newspaper websites that we published recently, we decided to break out a list of the best examples of “good” newspaper websites. Steve, Todd and I collaborated on the following list, judging sites not only on their web features but also on the design, aesthetics and general usability of the site [Note: this list only covers the top 100 US newspapers in terms of circulation, which is what our study looked at. We’re sure that we missed some great smaller papers.].

(1) New York Times: We love the general feeling of the NYT site, which is pleasing to the eye and easy to navigate. The site is loaded with great features, and the website is rumored to be dropping its annoying pay wall, TimesSelect, in the coming months.

(2) Washington Post: Not only do we like the design and the navigability of the Post’s website, but we really love its database applications, which provide interesting tidbits of information difficult to find elsewhere. The Post’s website has been a huge success, and is one of the best examples of newspapers creating an online product that is significantly different from its print product.

(3) USA Today: Social networking. Social networking. Social networking. Did I mention that this site has the most robust social networking features out of any of the newspaper websites we researched? Oh yeah. And this site has social networking.

(4) Houston Chronicle: We like the non-newspaperish feeling that this homepage exudes. It’s significantly different from any other newspaper site. Chron.com offers its users interactive features such as comments and blogs, has a great RSS system made available right on the homepage, and looks good while doing it.

(5) Denver Post: The homepage of this site isn’t much to write home about, but registering with the site automatically gives you your own blog and your own photo gallery for uploading and sharing photos. When you add in some interesting political features, including a voter’s guide and a poll for picking candidates and combine that with alternative content views, internal and external bookmarking features, as well as links from stories to relevant materials, you’ve got all the ingredients necessary to build a great website.

(6) Knoxville News Sentinel: I’m not sure a newspaper website could look any better than this one. When we talk about de-cluttering sites and making them look “clean”, this is what we mean.

 (7) Fresno Bee: Great homepage, interesting CrimeMap feature, and overall just a solid site with lots of technology and an easy-to-use format.

(8) Austin American Statesman: We really like the unique layout and coloring of this site’s homepage. We’re also giving this site points for allowing anyone to blog and for linking to many of the site’s blogs directly from the homepage.

(9) Tennessean: The blog-like feel of this site’s homepage helped it make our list. We also like the strong presence of multimedia on the homepage.

(10) San Jose Mercury News: On this homepage, we like the simple layout of the article headlines and descriptions. I also like the inclusion of the box with blog headlines, user photos, forum titles, and podcasts toward the top of the homepage. The site loads a bit slowly and is a little light on the features, but it does have all the core elements of a good site.


Some of the many design features that get in the way of good site design are listed here:

Bleeding-Edge Technology: Using the latest and greatest is a sure way to discourage users. Don’t try to attract users to your site by bragging about use of the latest Web technology. You may attract a few nerds, but business users care more about useful content and your ability to offer good customer service.

Excessive Flashing Text:
Avoid flashing text and text with too many different bright colors. This is distracting and takes attention away from the your message. Only use flashing and colored text sparingly. (You can use some animation to attract attention to your Advertisements.)

Flash: Try to avoid developing pages made mostly of Flash. Flash has some major problems: First, Flash is often used on home pages as a “splash” page, and search engines can’t index pages consisting primarily of Flash. This means your splash page will not get listed. Secondly, hyperlinks made with Flash can’t be spidered by search engines. Another problem is that visitors with slower Internet connections may see excessive page load times. Often times visitors will look for faster loading sites and bypass yours if they have to wait too long.

Frames: Splitting a page into frames is very confusing for users since frames break the fundamental user model of the Web page. All of a sudden, you cannot bookmark the current page and return to it (the bookmark points to another version of the frameset), URLs stop working, and printouts become difficult. Also, search engines do not index framed sites very well. Don’t use frames!

Image Maps for Navigation: Try not to use image maps exclusivly for your site navigation. You need to use standard HTML hyperlinks on your site or it will not get spidered properly. Search engines can’t spider image map navigation links because the spider gets hung up in the image map’s code. If you want to use image maps, you should use them only in addition to a second navigation scheme that uses standard HTML hyperlinks.

Lengthy Page Download Times:
If your Web page takes too long to download, you will loose visitors. Guidelines for download time are based upon the most common modem speed currently in use (28.8 Kbps). Each Web page should download in 15 seconds or less using a 28.8 modem. In order to achieve this download speed standard a Web page should not contain more than two or three graphic images and a just few printed pages.

Long Scrolling Pages: No one will read your text if it takes forever to download! Also, if a Web page contains too much text or if the text is too verbose, visitors may be loose interest and leave. Brevity and clarity are as important as how your Website is organized. Your message, on each page, should be written concisely; and all critical content and navigation options should be on the top part of the page.

Nonstandard Link Colors: Links to pages that have not been seen by the user are blue; links to previously seen pages are purple or red. Don’t mess with these colors since the ability to understand what links have been followed is one of the few navigational aides that is standard in most web browsers. Consistency is key to teaching users what the link colors mean.

Poor Site Navigation Support:
Don’t assume that users know as much about your site as you do. Visitors always have difficulty finding information, so they need support in the form of a strong sense of structure and place. Start your design with a good understanding of the structure of the information space and communicate this structure explicitly to the user. Consider providing a site map and always let users know where they are and where they can go. Also, you will need a good search feature for larger sites since even the best navigation support will never be enough.

Reverse Video: You should avoid reverse video on your Website for two reasons. First, you cannot print reverse video text, unless it’s a graphic element. Second, light colored text on a dark background is difficult to read and can cause severe eyestrain.

Scrolling Text, Marquees, and Constantly Running Animations: Never include page elements that move incessantly. Moving images have an overpowering effect on the human peripheral vision, so give your users some peace and quiet and allow them to actually read the text.

Wallpaper makes text difficult to read, especially for people with impaired vision. Unless you want to limit your Website to people under the age of 40 who have perfect 20/20 vision, avoid the use of wallpaper.



1.        Flexibility. The willingness to do lots of different kinds of tasks

2.        Traditional reporting skills but also  knowledge of HTML, layout, multimedia etc.

3.        Versatility. You are hired not as a reporter but a content producer which involves writing, but also copyediting, researching, headline writing, layout etc.

4.        Ability to meet deadlines

5.        Editing skills for print, audio and video

6.        Online journalists need multi-language skills







News style is the particular prose style used for news reporting (i.e. in newspapers) as well as in news items that air on radio and television. News style encompasses not only vocabulary and sentence structure, but also the way in which stories present the information in terms of relative importance, tone, and intended audience. News writing attempts to answer all the basic questions about any particular event in the first two or three paragraphs: Who? What? When? Where? and Why? and occasionally How? (ie. “5 W’s”). This form of structure is sometimes called the “inverted pyramid,” to refer to decreased importance of information as it progresses.News stories also contain at least one of the following important characteristics: proximity, prominence, timeliness, human interest, oddity, or consequence.



1.             Inverted pyramid

Journalism instructors usually describe the organization or structure of a news story as an inverted pyramid. The journalist top-loads the essential and most interesting elements of his or her story, with supporting information following in order of diminishing importance.

·          This structure enables readers to quit reading at any point and still come away with the essence of a story.

·          It allows people to enter a topic to the depth that their curiosity takes them, and without the imposition of details or nuances that they would consider irrelevant.

·          Newsroom practicalities represent another rationale. The inverted pyramid structure enables sub-editors and other news staff to quickly create space for ads and late-breaking news simply by cutting items (“throw-aways”) from the bottom (“cutting”, literally, at the papers that still use traditional paste up techniques). The structure frees sub-editors to truncate stories at almost any length that suits their needs for space.

Poor structure typically begins with a faulty lead. Steeped in the raw material of their interviews and research, apprentice news writers often fail to anticipate what readers will find most interesting or to sum up the information quickly. These elements of their story they present only after their lead and in an article’s later paragraphs. This is the reason for the popular newsroom admonition: “Don’t bury the lead!”

Some writers start their stories with the “1-2-3 lead”. This format invariably starts with a 5W opening paragraph (as described above), followed by an indirect quote that serves to support a major element of the first

·          On the Web, the inverted pyramid becomes even more important since we know from several user studies that users don’t scroll, so they will very frequently be left to read only the top part of an article. Very interested readers will scroll, and these few motivated souls will reach the foundation of the pyramid and get the full story in all its gory detail.The inverted pyramid is the standard news story structure that is used throughout print journalism. This structure concentrates the most interesting and important information at the top of the story so that readers can get the information they need or want and then go on to another story if they choose. This characteristic makes it an ideal structure for use on the web.


·          The inverted pyramid organizes the information in such away that the reader can be efficient. Not every reader will read all of every story on a website. The inverted pyramid allows readers to get enough of a story to know whether they want to continue reading or go to another story.


·          Another reason why the inverted pyramid is ideal for the web is that it is non-chronological structure. That’s it presents the most important or most interesting information first no matter where it might have happened in the story’s sequence of events.



2.   Headline

On the web, you  live or die  by your headings (or headlines as they are referred to in print journalism).Headline is another standard journalistic writing form that has been adapted by the web. Headlines are cryptic summaries of information that indicate the content of a longer piece of prose. The form that the headline usually takes is that of a complete sentence with a subject and verb e.g. President threatens veto of new tax bill. Most websites develop a style and set of requirements for headlines. But generally a headline should be specific, brief and interesting.


Some qualities of good headlines:

·          Headings should be  short and direct.

·          Use powerful language

·          Use subheads, they keep areader going through your story.

3.    Cutline

Cutlines are the explanatory and descriptive copy that accompanies pictures. Cutlines are necessary for practically all pictures because of the functions they serve: identification, description, explanation and elaboration. General guidelines for writing cutlines are: use present tense to describe what is in the picture, always double-check identifications in a cutline, be specific as possible in cutlines and try to avoid cutline clinches.

·          Cutlines have been a neglected part of a newspaper’s editorial process, but on the web they will take on increasing importance because of the web’s ability to display more pictures.

·          Many websites have a picture gallery as a standard part of the site, whoever is assigned to writing cutlines for the gallery needs to be adept at informing readers about individual pictures and tying them together with a coherent chunks of prose.



Writing for the web is not the same as writing for print because people read differently on the web.The writing style for web pages differs from that for writing for printed pages because of the followings:

Off-line materials have greater longetivity than on-line material.

Published off-line material is generally written and edited by professionals, whereas web pages may be published by anyone, sometimes with little or no writing and editing skills.

Readers spend less time looking at a web page than they really do reading an off-line magazine or newspaper article.

Web pages are dynamic, and they often involve multimedia.

Web pages are hyperlinked documents, so readers typically do not go through them in sequential order.

Web pages are typically very short, one or two screens in length.

With off-line material, the quality of the writing holds the reader’s attention. The actual appearance and form of the writing are secondary. However, appearance and form are critical components of a web page.




Web writing have been created due to the Internet’s hyperlinking and layering concepts.

1.        Summary: A one, two or three sentence paragraph that tells what a story is about. In academic writing they are called abstracts. Its role is to relate in more detail than a a headline what a story is about.

2.        Labels and subheads: Labels are one or two word monikers that summarize a large body of content and indicate the overall organization of the website. They must be accurate and as specific as possible. Sunheads  is a line of type within the body copy of an article rather that informs the reader what is coming next within the copy.

A moniker is a name or a nickname and, in the simplest terms, that is what it is in computer terminology as well. A moniker is an object (or component) in Microsoft’s Component Object Model (com) that refers to a specific instance of another object. Monikers originated in Microsoft’s Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) technology as a means of linking objects. A moniker may refer to any single object, or may be a composite made of a number of separate monikers, each of which refers to a particular instantiation of an object. The moniker is sometimes referred to as an “intelligent name,” because it retains information about how to create, initialize, and bind to a single instance of an object. Once created, the moniker holds this information, as well as information about the object’s states in that specific instantiation.



1.        Coloured text.Most news websites use black text on a white background, just as black text appears on white pages in print. On the web you can colour text., e.g. links appear in blue text, and that introduces something different for the reader  and is a clear visual cue to the content of the text.

2.        Indentions. Material that can be set off from the main text such as a block quotation can be indented to provide another visual cue for the readers.

3.        Keywords. These are words within the text that are most likely to tell the reader what the text is about. Designers highlight them by using boldface or coloured type.

4.        Lists.  Use bulleted or number lists.

5.        Paragraph spacing. Use a line of white spacing between paragraphs. The technique helps divide the text into manageable chunks for the reader.

6.        Web paragraphing-Short  paragraphs.They easily entice the reader to read. Paragraph lenghth.No recommendations on this, but this will be affected by  kind of writing .



Keep the following considerations when writing online:

1.        People don’t read carefully online. They scan due to difficulties of staying online on a computer monitor. If takes long to find what they want then they leave.

2.        Shorter is better. Documents should not be more than 1000 words, actually aim at 600-700 words.Use the following approaches to achieve this.

·          If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.This is the Orwel’s rule in A to Z. The rule can be applied to phrases, sentences, thoughts as well as words.Once you have completed your draft read it thoroughly, and ask yourself. Is there superfluous information here?  And could these details be cut.

·          Write for the reader, not for  your ego.Without thinking of the reader, you will write stories that nobody will ever read.This of the web users as being busy,and some may be impatient in finding the information on the web.

·          Question your modifiers.One feature of bad writing is the overuse of adjectives and verbs. They add to the length of the story and also tend to slow its pace e.g he hit it really bad instead use  he clobbered it.

·          Be direct. Begin at the beginning and  go on till you come to the end

3.        “Too long” is a matter of seconds,not of minutes or of word counts. Chances of an online reader staying on a story even for more than 60 seconds are very remote.

4.        The remote control is essentially the same as a computer mouse or trackball.

5.        People come to the web to find information.

6.        Bulleted lists and other clear graphic elements are essential to successful online writing.

7.        Writing in brief, bright bursts of light works best.

8.        People prefer inspire e-mail. Everyone prefers quick, snappy and clever e-mail and this is the way for online writing.

9.        Visuals need to be connected to the story.

10.     Always edit, edit

11.     The writing toward the end of each document or page should read like the end of a movie story. Check for writing style: http://www.cmu.edu/home/style/styleguide.html



By Derrick Story (2002)

Give Them What They Want

The defining attribute of a good Web site is that it gives people what they want and takes account of the fact that not everyone is looking for the same information. One of the advantages of the Internet over traditional media is that it’s very easy to find out the kind of content your users are looking for. While a magazine publisher can’t peer over the shoulder of every reader, a Web developer can effectively do just that. Editorial direction should be statistic-driven. Look at the document hits and see which articles or site sections are loaded most often.

There are, however, two major problems with this approach. First, page hits can be easily affected by how you design your site. If you put the link to corporate information prominently at the top of the page, and hide the riveting and steamy sex-orientated content alongside the legal notices at the bottom of the page, the former is much more likely to garner a larger proportion of visitors—even if it’s boring as hell.

The second big downer is that these statistics only reflect the interests of the users who found something they were interested in. It doesn’t show the disappointment of those who clicked away because they discovered nothing that was sufficiently appealing.

Fortunately, there’s another way to learn about your online audience—take a gander at what they type in the search engine box. The advantage of this approach is that their choice isn’t limited or biased by the links you offer. With a budget to commission, say, five 1000 word pieces, you could analyze the top search terms over the last couple of months, and then seek out writers who can produce work based upon these terms. After all, it’s not what you want to see on your site that matters, it’s what your users want to read.

Write Good Copy

Good writing on the Web is, for the most part, the same as good writing in every other medium. Being a good writer, like being a good football player, takes both talent and practice. Fortunately, for all us content developers with more practice than talent, there are rules that guide us along. Unlike the best football players, the best writers are those who learn to break the rules, while still playing the game. As a novice, however, it makes sense to follow them closely.

The first rule of good writing is make sure you use the right words and spell them properly. Notepad might be fine for coding HTML, but it doesn’t have a spell checker. Use a word processor.

Another essential piece of a writer’s tool kit is a dictionary. The Webster’s New World Edition or the Concise Oxford is a good bet. A copy of Roget’s Thesaurus is also handy to have around when your faculty for producing imaginative synonyms falls flat on its face. The Wired Style guide is tailored specifically for Internet writing and is a handy addition to any Web writer’s bookshelf. The Chicago Manual of Style, Fowler’s Modern English Usage, and Elements of Style (written by Strunk & White) are also essential reading for those looking to write well.

But that’s far from the whole story. Good grammar isn’t limited to caring whether a word is a gerund or a prepositional adjective; it’s about writing prose that doesn’t make the reader think, “Huh? What was that?” in the middle of a sentence. Grammar checkers can help, but they are a bit too rigid. Writing professional copy means thinking about your choice of words and their construction and arrangement—in terms of flow, clarity, brevity, energy, engagement, and interest.

Short, punchy sentences tend to work well on the Web. Paul Schindler, Editor of Byte.com describes it as “writing like Ernest Hemingway. Blowing the wind out of the reader. That said, variety is the name of the game. A piece will often have greater impact if you have some longer sentences interspersed with much shorter ones.

The difficulty is in writing a long sentence that doesn’t trip the reader up. The key is putting the right punctuation in the right places. Unfortunately, because reading on a screen is much less natural than reading on paper, your customers are more susceptible to losing the plot when reading the material on your corporate site. Readers don’t like being confused, and if they don’t understand what you’re saying, they won’t stick around to figure it out.

Writing Like a Tough Guy

Amongst the writing fraternity, there seems to be a consensus that bold Saxon words are better than poncy Latinate ones. For example, “vision” has a Latin etymology, while “sight” has Saxon origins. In the same way, “frantic” comes from the Latin, and “busy” comes from the Saxon. It’s all part of what Dave Sims, Editorial Director of the O’Reilly Network, describes as “writing like a tough guy. Really though, it’s horses for courses. If you want to give the impression of sophistication, formality, and learning, then Latinate words are a good choice. If you want to appear unfussy and direct, then Saxon words are the ones to use. Match your tone to your audience.

Verbiage is a quite different matter. Not every word in a piece of writing will make a contribution to its meaning; sometimes its presence may be justified by improving the rhythm or tone of a statement. In general, however, circumlocutory prose should be avoided. On the Internet, users don’t want to be beaten around the bush.

If instant engagement is what you’re looking for, then it’s essential that you use the active, rather than the passive, voice. For example, the phrase, “You are loved by him is in the passive voice, while the less circuitous, “He loves you, is in the active voice. The direct quality of the active voice engenders reader interest.

When you wish to downplay a statement, the passive voice acts to distance you from the subject under discussion. It allows the writer to avoid using “I in his prose—the most heinous of crimes and the sure sign of an amateur. Ultimately though, which voice you use is purely a judgement call. Don’t get too wrapped up in the theory of it all. The fact of the matter is that nobody cares whether your voice is active or passive as long as it sounds ‘right.’ That’s the call.

On a final note, Yvonne Alexander, a Principal of Alexander Media Communications, thinks that most corporate copy, particularly on Web sites, has a bad attitude. “Don’t talk about features, talk about benefits. Tell the users not just what you can do, but how you can help them. She has a few other thoughts. “Try to write in the vernacular of the audience you are targeting. If they are programmers, then use the technical jargon. If they are businessmen, then talk about the subject in business terms.

Editing and Proofing

Have you ever wondered why often it’s the editors who seem to write the worst copy for magazines? Invariably, its because they edit their own work—a sin of gargantuan proportions. The difficulty is that after writing an article, your perspective on the piece is tainted because you have already traveled the tracks of thought that are unique to your creation. It’s impossible to read copy as a normal reader would because you know what is going to come next.

Even if your budget won’t support a copy editor’s salary, get someone in your office with a feel for language to look over your work. The process really isn’t that complicated. The copy editor chops out every extraneous word they can find in the piece, corrects the spelling and grammar, and rigorously applies the rules laid out in the house style document. The writer then takes the article back and reviews the changes. By using the Revisions Tool in a word processor like MS Word, you can review which amendments were made during which editing phase.

Bear in mind though, that the role of the copy editor is not to rewrite the story (if he or she needs to do that, then you need to hire another writer), but to enhance the writer’s tone, feel, and expression. Editors should not supplement these aspects with their own.

An editorial style sheet is essential to ensure that content on your site appears consistent and professional. It doesn’t really matter whether you say that a machine has “128MB of RAM, “128 MB of RAM or “128mb of RAM, providing that you say it the same way every time. Guidelines need to be tailored to the type of content your site contains and need to be amended and updated. They also need to reflect your prime audience. If you are producing a site for a London-based division, then it makes sense to use International English spellings. If you are putting together pages for a small retailer based in Montana, then US English would be more appropriate.


Structure and Layout

The most important part of an article or site section is the beginning—in journalese it’s called a “lede.” The whole point of this introduction is to entice the reader into the content. It’s essential that the lede piques and engages the reader, and it’s preferable that it gives them some idea what the rest of the article is about.

How the article ends is also pretty important. This is where you draw your conclusions, summarise your argument and impress the reader with your rapacious wit—good stories are those that leave the reader either thinking or smiling. The best are those that leave them doing both.

It’s a good idea to use headings in the construction of your article. “Heds,” as they are referred to sometimes, give the reader an overview of what information the following section contains so that they can make an informed decision about whether or not to read it.

Heading links at the top of the page also empower users, allowing them to pick and choose the information they digest. Try not to be too prosaic in your choice of headings. They should be descriptive, but that doesn’t preclude them from being interesting or amusing. For the writer, adding headings as you produce your work helps you structure the piece and ensure that one section flows into the next.

One technique upon which the jury is still out is whether to split a longer article into two or more parts. Content sites that are financed on advertising revenue, such as Salon and Wired News, are particularly keen on the idea. Obviously if you split a 2,000 word article into four or five parts, then you get four or five times as many page hits. Gary Kamiya, VP for Content at Salon Magazine, justifies this by explaining that, “from the psychological point of view, it synthesises traditional media, where you turn pages as you travel through the article. This makes the reader feel more comfortable reading longer stories.

Whether it’s a good choice for other sorts of sites is disputable. Yvonne Alexander is less impressed by the merits of a multi-page layout: “I find it rather annoying. The pages take so long to load that it breaks the flow of the article. It’s also more difficult to write effective multi-page content because there is a need to entice the reader onto the next page at the end of each section. That’s hard work.

Using Links

Good Web content should take advantage of the tools of the medium. Hyperlinks are one of those unique tools of electronic media. Knowing how and where to use hyperlinks is tough. Kamiya admits that “better use could be made of links in articles, but to uncover and decide which resources to include is very time consuming. Schindler thinks that part of the problem is that nobody is sure whether it is the responsibility of the writers or the editors to research possible links. As he puts it, “when everyone is responsible, nobody is responsible.

As a bare minimum, links should be used to provide word definitions and provide internal links to related sections of the site. But don’t go to extremes and overload your content with links—only include those that will be genuinely useful to your target audience. Too many links on a page can be confusing and irritating and distract the reader from the actual content.

Hit It With All You’ve Got

Most editors and writers have strong ideas about the differences between electronic and traditional media, but there are no hard and fast rules. Schindler believes that readers like “short news you can use, while Kamiya notes that “some of the longest stories in Salon have been the most successful. But the fact is that writing is an art not a science, and there’s more to producing engaging content than following every rule in the Chicago Manual of Style.

Good writing is about being able to take a subject and breathe life into it. And all the style manuals, dictionaries, and thesauri in the world won’t help you do that if you don’t properly research and grapple with your subject. Yet, if you do the work and find a way to write about your subject persuasively and interestingly, then no doubt your audience will be interested too. The bottom line is that Internet users are curious, information-driven people. And if you can give them content that’s written with energy, passion, and vitality … they’ll think, and smile, and love you for it.

Headline writing is perhaps one of the most important and often-incorrectly-executed aspects of blogging and posting news stories online.

The point of a web story headline is to entice a reader to click into a story and read more. More clicks mean you are better connecting with your readership.

The differences between web and print audiences and headline presentations make headline writing one of the most important jobs of a web content publisher.

The kicker: How do you write headlines that will entice web readers?

First, you must understand that web headlines serve a unique purpose when compared to print headlines.



In print, page presentation, images and accompanying text can increase a headline’s impact. Words like “BIG CRASH” make sense in bold above a photo of car accident. Print headlines have presence and can be great for getting people to notice stories. Here’s some characteristics of print headlines:

  • Photos or images lend context. Printed headlines often have images and supporting text to support them and make the stories relevant to readers. A two-word headline has little chance of making sense without a big photo summing up the story.
  • Text size can help headlines make impact. When print readers see huge bold text above the fold, they know that the story is likely an important read. Big text will likely draw the read in.
  • Subheads make extra push to readers. How many times have you read a headline and then moved directly to the subhead? Readers want more context. Subheads explain to readers what the story is about when the headline often times only contains a couple words.
  • Print headlines show up in one place. Print headlines on the front of the newspaper don’t show up again on the inside sections. Local news section headlines are not promo’d again in the business section. Headlines in printed publications have limited presence.
  • Print headlines don’t change. Once it hits the dead tree, you can’t recall the day’s papers and change your stories’ headlines.


On the web, headlines take on the role of telling the entire story in limited words.

Let’s revisit the “Big Crash” headline that we saw in print. Do those words make sense on the web without other text or images to put it in context? If a reader see only those words on a page of search results, does the reader think about plummeting stock markets or a nasty hit during a hockey game?

Without putting those headline words in context, a reader can’t know what the story is about. It’s imperative that web headlines tell the story. Here’s some characteristics of headlines on the web:

  • Web headlines appear in many places on a site. Web headlines can be syndicated with RSS to show up on many places throughout a site. For example, if a site wants to promote local news stories in the business sections, they can run an RSS feed of news headlines on a sidebar, which creates better chance of cross-section readership.
  • Web headlines pop up on external sites. Through RSS, headlines can be syndicated on Google News, other news sites, blogs, wherever. This is great news because the more places your RSS feed appears, the more chances for increased readership you get.
  • Web headlines don’t always appear with other content. Web headlines can’t depend on images or subheads to get readers to click them. Web headlines must be enticing enough to generate clicks.
  • Web headlines can’t depend on text size for impact. Because headlines can be syndicated through feeds and often must fit in styles on different pages, it’s nearly impossible to depend on a headline’s size to grab attention of a reader. If size can’t do it, what can?
  • Web headlines must get the point across. If your news sites’ headlines can appear anywhere on the web and without supporting content, it’s incredibly important to be able to convey the point of the story with just text.
  • Your headline won’t necessarily be the headline people use. Believe it. Web users often share your stories on social media sites and write their own headlines for your content. The better headline you write, the less likely web users will have to edit your headlines to make them relevant to social media sites.
  • You can change web headlines! If a headline you wrote for the morning’s story doesn’t seem to say the right thing about the story, you can change it any time. On the web, you can edit any content in real time, including your headlines.



How do you write better headlines for the web?

Writing headlines for the web isn’t second-nature for most web users and print writers. The web uses different applications and media to share content, which means headline writing for content needs to change to fit readers’ needs.To further complicate things, web stories have THREE audiences: People, Social Media and Search Engines. Keys to Successful Web Writing


You can write more effective Web pages by using the following techniques (Morkes & Nielsen, 1997b; Tedesco & Tedesco, 2000; Outing, 1999):

·          Feature highlighted keywords that may or may not be hyperlinks to definitions or additional information.

·          Use bold to highlight-never underline for emphasis. Underlining is the conventional code for a hyperlink; an underlined word or phrase that is not a link frustrates the experienced user.

·          Use meaningful subheadings that summarize the content that follows.

·          Create bulleted lists whenever possible; they make scanning for key points much easier.

·          Keep to one idea per paragraph.

·          Use a journalistic, inverted pyramid style of writing with the key information at the top and the “nice to know” information presented later. Web readers can get the basics with your initial information up front, and then decide if they wish to continue on.

·          Keep it short-about half the word count of traditional print writing– typically less than 1,000 words. You can shorten text with liberal use of hyperlinks that provide definitions and additional information for the interested reader. Keep paragraphs and sentences short, too.

·          Write in a conversational style and use active voice. The Web is an informal place where users want to feel like they know the authors. Include an e-mail address (or link) to enhance this sense of interaction. (Tip: You may want to set up a special e-mail address for publications that is different from your’ personal e-mail account to separate your public e-mail address from private correspondence.)

·          Remember that writing for the Web is writing for a global audience. Use the technology available to you-provide links whenever possible. Users interested in more information can click on the links; those who are not don’t have to. This aspect differentiates Web writing from print writing and makes it easier

·          Keep in mind that people do not use the Web in a linear progression as they typically read print. They may follow links and come back, and they may skip paragraphs. Think about writing so that each paragraph tells its own story and can be read out of the order in which it was originally written.

·          One similarity in both formats is accuracy and disclosure of the source of information. One problem users have in using the Web is determining the credibility of the material. Web pages must be just as accurate as academic publications, because many people can access and use the information. Authors can provide the names or authoritative sources or refer in hyperlinks to recognized associations.


People rarely read Web pages word by word; instead, they scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences. In research on how people read websites we found that 79 percent of our test users always scanned any new page they came across; only 16 percent read word-by-word. (Update: a newer study found that users read email newsletters even more abruptly than they read websites.)

As a result, Web pages have to employ scannable text, using

  • highlighted keywords (hypertext links serve as one form of highlighting; typeface variations and color are others)
  • meaningful sub-headings (not “clever” ones)
  • bulleted lists
  • one idea per paragraph (users will skip over any additional ideas if they are not caught by the first few words in the paragraph)
  • the inverted pyramid style, starting with the conclusion
  • half the word count (or less) than conventional writing

We found that credibility is important for Web users, since it is unclear who is behind information on the Web and whether a page can be trusted. Credibility can be increased by high-quality graphics, good writing, and use of outbound hypertext links. Links to other sites show that the authors have done their homework and are not afraid to let readers visit other sites.

Users detested “marketese”; the promotional writing style with boastful subjective claims (“hottest ever”) that currently is prevalent on the Web. Web users are busy: they want to get the straight facts. Also, credibility suffers when users clearly see that the site exaggerates.

It was somewhat surprising to us that usability was improved by a good deal in the objective language version (27% better). We had expected that users would like this version better than the promotional site (as indeed they did), but we thought that the performance metrics would have been the same for both kinds of language. As it turned out, our four performance measures (time, errors, memory, and site structure) were also better for the objective version than for the promotional version. Our conjecture to explain this finding is that promotional language imposes a cognitive burden on users who have to spend resources on filtering out the hyperbole to get at the facts. When people read a paragraph that starts “Nebraska is filled with internationally recognized attractions,” their first reaction is no, it’s not, and this thought slows them down and distracts them from using the site.


Writing for the Web by Jakob Nielsen, distinguished engineer; PJ Schemenaur, technical editor; and Jonathan Fox, editor-in-chief, http://www.sun.com

You can double the usability of your web site by following these guidelines: for two sample sites studied in Sun’s Science Office, we improved measured usability by 159% and 124% by rewriting the content according to the guidelines.

Writing for the Web is very different from writing for print:

  • 79% of users scan the page instead of reading word-for-word
  • Reading from computer screens is 25% slower than from paper
  • Web content should have 50% of the word count of its paper equivalent

The Difference Between Paper and Online Presentation

In print, your document forms a whole and the user is focused on the entire set of information. On the Web, you need to split each document into multiple hyperlinked pages since users are not willing to read long pages.

·          Users can enter a site at any page and move between pages as they chose, so make every page independent and explain its topic without assumptions about the previous page seen by the user.

·          Link to background or explanatory information to help users who do not have the necessary knowledge to understand or use the page.

·          Make the word count for the online version of a given topic about half the word count used when writing for print: Users find it painful to read too much text on screens, and they read about 25 percent more slowly from screens than from paper.

Users don’t like to scroll through masses of text, so put the most important information at the top.

·          Web users are impatient and critical: They have not chosen your site because you are great but because they have something they need to do. Write in the “news you can use” style to allow users to quickly find the information they want.

·          Credibility is important on the Web where users connect to unknown servers at remote locations. You have to work to earn the user’s trust, which is rapidly lost if you use exaggerated claims or overly boastful language; avoid “marketese” in favor of a more objective style.

A few hyperlinks to other sites with supporting information increase the credibility of your pages. If at all possible, link quotes from magazine reviews and other articles to the source.

·          The Web is an informal and immediate medium, compared to print, so users appreciate a somewhat informal writing style and small amounts of humor.

Do not use clever or cute headings since users rely on scanning to pick up the meaning of the text.

Limit the use of metaphors, particularly in headings: Users might take you literally.

Use simple sentence structures: Convoluted writing and complex words are even harder to understand online.

Puns do not work for international users; find some other way to be humorous.

Add bylines and other ways of communicating some of your personality. (This also increases credibility.)

The Web is a fluid medium: Update pages as time goes by to reflect all changes. Statistics, numbers, and examples all need to be recent or credibility suffers.


Limit the use of graphics, particularly full-page graphics. The time it takes to load such images can frustrate many of your users.

Include flowcharts and process diagrams and unique captions identifying them.

Use screen captures if they can help the user understand how a product works.

Add a caption or an explanatory note that a screen is the result of a user action, if it is unclear that the graphic is not interactive.


Because users can arrive at your pages from a number of unpredictable locations — search engines, hyperlinks on other sites, hyperlinks on your own pages (remember that the Web is inherently non-linear) — each Web page should be structured to stand on its own. 

  • Provide immediate orientation on every page. Include information about the purpose of your site and the identity of your organization. 
  • Place the most important information at the top of your page. Remember, some users don’t like to scroll. Information located at the bottom of the page (off the screen) may be missed. 
  • Keep content to one concept or purpose per page. Break information into discrete chunks that function as information modules connected by links.
  • Place graphics at the bottom of your page. This allows users to begin reading while the lower portion of the page downloads, and gives the page the illusion of downloading more quickly.
  • Use microcontent (brief bits of text) to inform and direct. Because most users scan Web pages rather than read them word for word, microcontent can help them quickly zero in on the information that interests them most.

Examples of microcontent include7

·         Page titles

·         Headlines

·         Subheads

·         Links

·         Bold or colored text

·         ALT text

·         Captions

·         Pull-quotes

·         Navigation bar links

·         “In-page” indexes (tables of contents)

Microcontent should be

·         able to stand alone. Headlines and links should be completely comprehensible out of context.

·         explanatory and informative, not clever or persuasive.

·         concise.

used with purpose to direct and clarify, like road signs. Don’t aimlessly crowd the page


Guidelines for writing effective microcontent

Headlines should appear at the top of your page and should summarize the content of the page. They can be the same as or similar to your page title. Omit opening articles such as “a” or “the” or vague phrases such as “Welcome to.” The first word should carry vital information. Language should be plain and simple. Keep headlines to 60 characters or less. Because online headlines often appear out of context as part of search engine lists, e-mail references or bookmarks, users don’t have associated information to help them understand the meaning. Make sure your headlines stand on their own.

NOTE: If your site contains lists of other peoples’ pages, you may want to rewrite their headlines, in order to better serve your users.

All subheads on a page should be of approximately equal significance.

In-page indexes (or tables of contents) are useful if your page has more than two content sections or ideas. Use in-page indexes to summarize the page and provide links to every section of the page without scrolling.

An overview (a summary or introduction) is useful when you are presenting a large document with many sections. Provide links within the text, allowing users to choose their own path. Include an in-page index for users who prefer to follow a traditional path through the article.  

Linked text should be explanatory and descriptive so that users know exactly what to expect if they click it. Avoid links that self-reference or reference the Web medium, such as “click here” or “link to home page.”  

Effective linking strategies help users find what they are looking for. When creating links, keep the following in mind: 

·         Content links — links that lead to information — are more satisfying to users than category links — links that lead to more links. 

·         Longer, more descriptive  links are better than short links because they help users predict where they will end up.

·         Users prefer shallow sites to sites that are too deep. Practice the “three click rule” — reduce the number of layers users must navigate through to three.

·         Provide more than one path to each page. Never trap your user in a dead end.

·         Organize content links into easily scannable categories that make sense to your user.

·         Provide a linked author e-mail address on each page to help establish credibility and professionalism.

Bold text helps users scan content quickly for points of interest.

ALT tags should explain the significance of the graphics rather than describe its appearance. Keep ALT tags concise (nine words or less is optimum).

Use captions for photos to eliminate any confusion about what the images are and why you are showing them. 

Effective writing techniques for the Web

·         Keep text concise: Pare word count to 50 percent of comparable printed information. Relegate details and background information to secondary pages with clear and intuitive links for interested readers. Self-edit mercilessly and seek editorial review for clarity, consistency, grammar and punctuation. 

·         Write for “scannability.” Because most users scan text on the Web, help them find information quickly by

o        using bold text to highlight words that convey information. Highlight words that indicate what makes this page different from other pages and summarize content. 

o        using in-page indexes or tables of contents.

o        using bulleted lists.

o        using subheads.

o        keeping paragraphs short, and keeping them to a single idea each.

·         Keep language objective: Avoid buzzwords, adjectives, exaggeration, and unsubstantiated claims. Establish your credibility by avoiding promotional writing styles. Stick to the facts, and use the language and vocabulary of your intended audience.  

·         Write in an inverted pyramid style: Many of us are trained in traditional academic writing, in which you start with a problem statement or background information, discuss strategies and methods in detail, move on to results or theories and build finally to a conclusion. Journalists and good Web writers reverse this style. 

Start with your conclusion. Then provide the most vital supporting information. End with background material. This allows the user to stop at any point and still get the essence of the story. This journalistic technique is even more important on the Web.

Although writing for the Web is similar to writing for newspapers, keep in mind that journalists must provide background information in each article, whereas Web writers can link to background information, including archived articles.

Writing effective titles, keywords and summaries

To help users who rely on search engines, include appropriate  titles, keywords, and summaries in the HTML <HEAD> of your pages.

Write concise, descriptive page titles.

A page title is not the same as the page’s file name. For example, the file name of this page is “lesson4.htm.” The title of this page is “Web Authoring that Works, Lesson 4: Writing for the Web.”

Page titles are located in the <HEAD> of a document. The HTML code looks like this:

<TITLE>Web Authoring that Works, Lesson 4: Writing for the Web</TITLE>

Page titles show up in search engine query hit lists, in browser “bookmarks” or “favorites” menus, and sometimes in hyperlinks to your pages.

Guidelines for writing effective titles:

·         Keep titles between 40 and 60 characters. Because search engine query lists often shorten page titles, keep yours concise.

·         Create titles that make sense when viewed out of context. Titles should be able to stand alone.

·         Make the first word descriptive. Users often scan through long lists of titles to choose pages. Avoid generic phrases like “Welcome to” and articles like “the” or “a.”

·         Give each page its own unique title. Pages about the same topic can start with the same words but should end with words that explain the differences between them. 

·         Write titles in upper and lower case.

·         Avoid teasers that entice people to click to find out what your page is about. Users are frustrated by ambiguous or inaccurate page titles.

Provide accurate keywords for search engines.

“Keywords” are the terms users type into search engines when initiating a search. In order for search engines to locate and list your information accurately, you should include appropriate keywords on your pages.

Locate your keywords in the <HEAD> of your document, before the <TITLE>. A  keyword META-tag looks like this:

<META name=”keywords” content=”University of Maine, Cooperative Extension, education, research, agriculture, potato, crop, Verticillium Wilt, fungal disease, tuber”>

Guidelines for writing keyword tags:

·         Create a list of terms appropriate to your subject matter.

·         Add keywords to the META-tag of all related pages.

·         Use only keywords that describe the main topic of a page.

·         Do not add a keyword if the page is only peripherally related to the term.

Provide short, informative summaries for search engines.

Many search engines display summaries below the page title in their query hit list. A one-sentence summary helps users quickly determine if your page matches their interest as they sift through dozens of search results. 

Locate your one-sentence summary in the <HEAD> of your document, before the “keywords” and <TITLE> META-tags. A “description” META-tag looks like this:

<META name=”description” content=”Verticullium wilt of potatoes is a fungal disease found in Maine crops which can cause yield losses by a reduction in tuber sizes.”>

It is good practice to repeat your “description” META-tag as the first sentence on your page.

A one-paragraph summary is an expanded version of the one-sentence summary and is sometimes used by quality search engines. A one-paragraph summary gives users further insight into your information in a few short sentences. Place one-paragraph summaries in the description META-tags of your pages, as in the one-sentence summary example shown above. 

Guidelines for writing effective one-sentence summaries:9

·         Keep one-sentence summaries to 150 characters or less.

·         Write summaries that make sense when read out of context.

·         Use descriptive terms that tell users what the page is about and allow them to judge its relevance.

·         Concentrate on the facts. Do not use promotional or exaggerated language.

Examples of effective Web sites

The New York Times home page is a good example of a page with its headline information located at the top — the portion of the page most users will see. 

The Information Chronicle includes a good example of an “in-page” index.

CNN’s home page is an excellent example of the effective use of micro-content to inform and direct. Note also the inverted pyramid writing style, in which the story is summarized in a chunk that provides a link to the rest of the article.

Accessibility Issues and Solutions:

Consistent page layout, recognizable graphics, and easy-to-understand language benefit all users. In particular, they help users with cognitive disabilities and users who have difficulty reading.

Tips to make your site easier for everyone to read:10

Divide large blocks of information into manageable chunks where natural and appropriate.

Limit each paragraph to one main idea.

Avoid complex sentence structures.

Place distinguishing information at the beginning of headings, paragraphs, lists, etc.

State the topic of the sentence or paragraph at the beginning of the sentence or paragraph. This is called “front-loading.” Front-loading will help users who visually scan text, as well as users who rely on speech synthesizers.

Use headings to structure documents; use lists where appropriate.

Strive for clear and accurate headings and link descriptions. This includes using link phrases that are concise and that make sense when read out of context or as part of a series of links (Some users browse by jumping from link to link and read only link text.) Use informative headings so that users can scan a page quickly for information rather than reading it in detail.

Use the clearest and simplest language appropriate for a site’s content. Using clear and simple language promotes effective communication. Access to written information can be difficult for people who have cognitive or learning disabilities. Using clear and simple language also benefits people whose first language differs from your own, including those users who communicate primarily in sign language.

Favor words that are commonly used. For example, use “begin” rather than “commence” or use “try” rather than “endeavor.”

Use active rather than passive verbs.

Avoid slang, jargon, and specialized meanings of familiar words, unless defined within your document.

Provide text equivalents for every non-text element. Ensure that images have text equivalents for people who are blind, have low vision, or for any user who cannot or has chosen not to view graphics. Text equivalents are also important if your users have older browsers or servers that do not support some HTML features.

Supplement text with graphic or auditory presentations where they will help users understand the page. Providing non-text equivalents — like pictures, videos, and pre-recorded audio — of text is also beneficial to some users, especially nonreaders or people who have difficulty reading.

(For more detailed information, visit W3C’s site: Techniques for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.)

Challenges in hypetext newswriting

1.        The use of hypetext in online newswriting faces the obstacle of non-linear reading dating back to  four thousand years ago.Reader seek to make conncetion between what they are reading and what they have previously read.In hypertext, the information tends to break up or atomise its  components and thse readings take a life of their own and become more autonomous since they are independent of what precedes or follows them.

2.        Possibility of users drifting in the course of their reading


Edit visually.

You’re vying for each guest’s attention. A snappy headline may get it. A blinking picture may grab it. But then what?

Web readers want to see what the article or site is about in a snap. If they can’t figure it out right away, they’ll go elsewhere.

So, grab them with an attention-getting title, tightly, and then, to hold them, design sparkling subheads.

Good test: Imagine there’s no text at all–only subheads. What would you say? How would you list them? Make them the story. The more outrageous, the better. (It might be the only thing a reader skims.)

Got some text to go with those subheads? Great. Sprinkle a little text in. (And be sure you don’t get sucked into the Web trap of using jargon or techno-babble just cause you’re on the Web.)

Got a paragraph with more than three sentences? Seriously consider using bullets. Readers like short, insightful, information-packed stories. The shorter, the better.

Want to reference something on the Web? Paraphrase it in one sentence and then provide a link to it. No need for readers to have to slog through the findings if they’re not interested.

Make the text consistent

One reason that general-purpose Web sites have had problems making money is that they are very broad.

The sites that are doing well have branded themselves into the reader’s mind by taking a consistent tone throughout their site, in their e-mail, and in their advertising. Readers appreciate this.

They know what to expect. Readers get angry when you change a site that they’ve become accustomed to. Don’t think so? Why did everyone hate the final episode of Seinfeld? Didn’t Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer always get away with everything? Didn’t you love to see them accomplish that?

In the last episode that all changed. They were sent to jail for their past and present “sins.” The last episode would have been better if their lawyer had gotten them out on some totally insane technicality after they were sent to jail.

Think globally, act locally

What’s the right usage? That’s a big debate among web editors. The web has ushered in so many new words that we see widely different spelling, capitalization, and even grammar choices on different sites or on different pages within the same site.

There are two basic schools of thought about usage: One is to use the AP (Associated Press) Style Guide, which tends to opt for the English Major version of words (e-mail, Web site, on-line) and a lot of optional punctuation like commas and hyphens.

The other is to use the “common” or “down” style–the way you see these words most often on the Web (e-mail, website, online. This approach also tends to eliminate all but the most critical commas, decrying colons, and wiping out semicolons. Our feeling is that this “downstyle” will eventually win the field.

As an editor, a big part of your job is to decide which style to use and stick to it. When you have time (OK, so stop laughing), you should write up a styleguide for your site and give it out to all of the writers and copy editors, if you have them. It will eventually make your job a lot easier. (Merry Bruns, who teaches workshops in web writing and editing, offers a good list of resources, in her Web Editor’s Toolkit.)

And make sure that you edit each text a few times. You’d be surprised how many inconsistencies, typos, and grammatical mistakes you miss on the first pass. (You might also want to proofread the text in different browsers, such as Internet Explorer and Netscape. Even look at AOL if a lot of your readers come from there, too.)

And even though this is the Web, print out your final version to make one last editing pass. It’s easier to catch little mistakes on paper than on-screen.

Take this test to see if you’re up for the challenge

Think you’re ready for Web editing? Follow these steps for a crash course:

1. Pick up a copy of the Smithsonian, The Nation, Vanity Fair, National Geographic, or any other magazine that has long, leisurely stories.

2. Pick any article that you like and reduce it to half of its original word length.

3. Cut the article in half again, making 4 sections. Write headings for each section.

4. Make each section no more than 2 paragraphs long. (Hint: use bullets).

5. Give the finished product to a friend to see if the article makes any sense.

Sound silly? Then Web editing is not in your future. As an editor, more often than not, you’ll be expected to take vast amounts of information and cut to the core, finding the nugget for your readers.

Take a look at these paragraphs and see what happens when we edit them for the Web.

Mesa Communications released the results of a year-long study today. According to John McCurran, Chief Strategist for Mesa, more people than ever are using the Web, and even though there have been a lot of dot.com layoffs in recently months, consumer spending at online stores is at an all-time high with an expected $10 billion being spent on consumer goods in the first quarter of the year alone. These figures are good news for online stores looking for more venture capital money.

Women still have a small lead among purchasers at online stores (52%). The majority of women who purchase on the Web are in the 25-40 age range. Books still continue to sell well, according to McCurran, but apparel sites are on the rise, especially those with either a physical or catalog presence.

Mesa Communications found that customer service and personalization were big reasons for the upsurge in apparel sites. Ease of returns is also a factor. “E-Commerce is here to stay,” said McCurran.

OK. Now you want to summarize these findings for your site or for a newsletter.

Mesa Communications released the results of its year-long study of e-commerce today. They say e-commerce is healthier than ever with consumers expected to spend $10 billion online this quarter.

Other highlights:

  • 52% of all purchases are made by women.
  • 25-to-40 year-olds are the women mostly likely to buy on the Web.
  • Sales of apparel are catching up to sales of books.
  • Consumers opt for stores with good customer service and personalization.

A rose by any other name…

We use the term web editor. But, as with so many things on the web, you’ll see the same job described in many ways. So be careful when looking for a job.

Don’t discount a good possibility because of the job title. When the web started, we just borrowed job titles from the magazine and newspaper worlds.

Then, as the web evolved to include audio and video, we started taking job titles from the movies and TV.

Finally, the web said, “Hey, we want our own job titles,” so we got a whole new set of terms.

Here are some titles that you should check out on the job boards to see if the job really is Web editing or not:

  • Content developer
  • Content strategist
  • Executive producer
  • Information manager




You have already covered many photojournalism courses. Therefore, this is a summarized lesson touching on photojournalism for the web. The literature has been compiled from various source of information (both print and online).


Pictures are worth 1,000 words – in the newspaper business that equals about 25 inches of print. Images are one of the most powerful forms of communication, especially in journalism. One image or sound can summarize an event or person or motivate a nation; one image can upset people more than endless pages of print on the subject. Kenneth F. Irby from the Poynter Institute describes photojournalism as “the craft of employing photographic storytelling to document life: it is universal and transcends cultural and language bounds.” Photojournalism is a particular form of journalism (the collecting, editing, and presenting of news material for publication or broadcast) that creates images in order to tell a news story. It is now usually understood to refer only to still images, and in some cases to video used in broadcast journalism.


Digital  photography is  a form of photography that utilizes digital technology to make digital images of subjects. Until the advent of digital technology, photography used photographic film to create images which could be made visible by photographic processing. Digital images can be displayed, printed, stored, manipulated, transmitted, and archived using digital and computer techniques, without chemical processing. Digital photography is one of several forms of digital imaging. Digital images can  made through digital imaging equipment such digital cameras, camcorders,  scanners, etc.

Digital cameras

A digital camera is a camera that takes video or still photographs, or both, digitally by recording images on a light-sensitive sensor.Many compact digital still cameras can record sound and moving video as well as still photographs. Digital cameras are incorporated into many devices ranging from PDAs and mobile phones (called camera phones) to vehicles.

Digital cameras can include features that are not found in film cameras, such as:

·          Displaying an image on the camera’s screen immediately after it is recorded.

·          Tthe capacity to take thousands of images on a single small memory device, the ability to record video with sound.

·          The ability to edit images, and deletion of images allowing re-use of the storage they occupied.

Classification of digital cameras

Digital cameras can be classified into several categories:

1. Video cameras

Video cameras are classified as devices to record moving images.

In addition, many live-preview digital cameras have a “movie” mode in which images are continuously acquired at a frame rate sufficient for video.

2. Live-preview digital cameras

The term digital still camera (DSC) usually implies a live-preview digital camera, which uses an electronic screen, usually a rear-mounted liquid crystal display, as the principal means of framing and previewing before taking the photograph, and for viewing stored photographs. All use either a charge-coupled device (CCD) or a CMOS image sensor to sense the light intensities across the focal plane.

Many live-preview cameras have a movie mode, and many camcorders can take still photographs. However, still cameras take better still photographs than camcorders, and vice versa; there is still a need for distinct still and motion picture cameras.

Images may be transferred to a computer, printer or other device in a number of ways:

·          The USB mass storage device class makes the camera appear to the computer as if it were a disk drive

·          The Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP) and its derivatives may be used; Firewire is sometimes supported; and the storage device may simply be removed from the camera and inserted into another device.

Live-preview cameras may be compact or subcompact, or the larger and more sophisticated bridge cameras.

3. Compact digital cameras

Compact cameras are designed to be small and portable; the smallest are described as subcompacts. Compact cameras are usually designed to be easy to use, sacrificing advanced features and picture quality for compactness and simplicity; images can usually only be stored using Lossy compression (JPEG). Most have a built-in flash usually of low power, sufficient for nearby subjects. They may have limited motion picture capability. Compacts often have macro capability, but if they have zoom capability the range is usually less than for bridge and DSLR cameras. They have a greater depth of field, allowing objects within a large range of distances from the camera to be in sharp focus. They are particularly suitable for casual and “snapshot” use.

4.  Bridge cameras

Bridge or SLR-like cameras are higher-end live-preview cameras that physically resemble DSLRs and share with them some advanced features, but share with compacts the live-preview design and small sensor sizes. Bridge cameras often have superzoom lenses which provide a very wide zoom range, typically 12:1, which is attained at the cost of some distortions, including barrel and pincushion distortion, to a degree which varies with lens quality. These cameras are sometimes marketed as and confused with digital SLR cameras since the appearance is similar. Bridge cameras lack the mirror and reflex system of DSLRs, have so far been fitted with fixed (non-interchangeable) lenses (although in some cases accessory wide-angle or telephoto converters cannot be attached to the lens), can usually take movies with sound, and the scene is composed by viewing either the liquid crystal display or the electronic viewfinder (EVF). They are usually slower to operate than a true digital SLR, but they are capable of very good image quality while being more compact and lighter than DSLRs. The high-end models of this type have comparable resolutions to low and mid-range DSLRs. Many of these cameras can store images in lossless RAW format as an option to lossy JPEG compression. The majority have a built-in flash, often a unit which flips up over the lens. The guide number tends to be between 11 and 15.

5. Digital single lens reflex cameras

Digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLRs) are digital cameras based on film single-lens reflex cameras (SLRs), both types are characterized by the existence of a mirror and reflex system.

6. Digital rangefinders

A rangefinder is a user-operated optical mechanism to measure subject distance once widely used on film cameras. Most digital cameras measure subject distance automatically using acoustic or electronic techniques, but it is not customary to say that they have a rangefinder. The term rangefinder alone is sometimes used to mean a rangefinder camera, that is, a film camera equipped with a rangefinder, as distinct from an SLR or a simple camera with no way to measure distance.

7. Professional modular digital camera systems

This category includes very high end professional equipment that can be assembled from modular components (winders, grips, lenses, etc.) to suit particular purposes. Common makes include Hasselblad and Mamiya. They were developed for medium or large format film sizes, as these captured greater detail and could be enlarged more than 35 mm.

Typically these cameras are used in studios for commercial production; being bulky and awkward to carry they are rarely used in action or nature photography. They can often be converted into either film or digital use by changing out the back part of the unit, hence the use of terms such as a “digital back” or “film back”. These cameras are very expensive (up to $40,000) and are typically not used by consumers.


8. Line-scan camera systems

A line-scan camera is a camera device containing a line-scan image sensor chip, and a focusing mechanism. These cameras are almost solely used in industrial settings to capture an image of a constant stream of moving material. Unlike video cameras, line-scan cameras use a single array of pixel sensors, instead of a matrix of them. Data coming from the line-scan camera has a frequency, where the camera scans a line, waits, and repeats. The data coming from the line-scan camera is commonly processed by a computer, to collect the one-dimensional line data and to create a two-dimensional image. The collected two-dimensional image data is then processed by image-processing methods for industrial purposes.

Line-scan technology is capable of capturing data extremely fast, and at very high image resolutions. Usually under these conditions, resulting collected image data can quickly exceed 100MB in a fraction of a second. Line-scan-camera–based integrated systems, therefore are usually designed to streamline the camera’s output in order to meet the system’s objective, using computer technology which is also affordable.

Line-scan cameras intended for the parcel handling industry can integrate adaptive focusing mechanisms to scan six sides of any rectangular parcel in focus, regardless of angle, and size. The resulting 2-D captured images could contain, but are not limited to 1D and 2D barcodes, address information, and any pattern that can be processed via image processing methods. Since the images are 2-D, they are also human-readable and can be viewable on a computer screen. Advanced integrated systems include video coding and optical character recognition (OCR).

Conversion of film cameras to digital

When digital cameras became common, a question many photographers asked was whether their film cameras could be converted to digital. The answer was yes and no. For the majority of 35 mm film cameras the answer is no, the reworking and cost would be too great, especially as lenses have been evolving as well as cameras. For the most part a conversion to digital, to give enough space for the electronics and allow a liquid crystal display to preview, would require removing the back of the camera and replacing it with a custom built digital unit.

Many early professional SLR cameras, such as the NC2000 and the Kodak DCS series, were developed from 35 mm film cameras. The technology of the time, however, meant that rather than being a digital “back” the body was mounted on a large and blocky digital unit, often bigger than the camera portion itself. These were factory built cameras, however, not aftermarket conversions.

A notable exception was a device called the EFS-1, which was developed by Silicon Film from c. 1998–2001. It was intended to insert into a film camera in the place of film, giving the camera a 1.3 MP resolution and a capacity of 24 shots. Units were demonstrated, and in 2002 the company was developing the EFS-10, a 10 MP device that was more a true digital back.

A few 35 mm cameras have had digital backs made by their manufacturer, Leica being a notable example. Medium format and large format cameras (those using film stock greater than 35 mm), have users who are capable of and willing to pay the price a low unit production digital back requires, typically over $10,000. These cameras also tend to be highly modular, with handgrips, film backs, winders, and lenses available separately to fit various needs.

The very large sensor these backs use leads to enormous image sizes. The largest in early 2006 is the Phase One’s P45 39 MP imageback, creating a single TIFF image of size up to 224.6 MB. Medium format digitals are geared more towards studio and portrait photography than their smaller DSLR counterparts, the ISO speed in particular tends to have a maximum of 400, versus 6400 for some DSLR cameras.

Advantages of consumer digital cameras

The advantages of digital photography over traditional film include:

  • Instant review of pictures, with no wait for the film to be developed: if there’s a problem with a picture, the photographer can immediately correct the problem and take another picture
  • Minimal ongoing costs for those wishing to capture hundreds of photographs for digital uses, such as computer storage and e-mailing, but not printing
  • If one already owns a newer computer, permanent storage on digital media is considerably cheaper than film
  • Photos may be copied from one digital medium to another without any degradation
  • Pictures do not need to be scanned before viewing them on a computer
  • Ability to print photos using a computer and consumer-grade printer
  • Ability to embed metadata within the image file, such as the time and date of the photograph, model of the camera, shutter speed, flash use, and other similar items, to aid in the reviewing and sorting of photographs. Film cameras have limited ability to handle metadata, though many film cameras can “imprint” a date over a picture by exposing the film to an internal LED array (or other device) which displays the date.
  • Ability to capture and store hundreds of photographs on the same media device within the digital camera; by contrast, a film camera would require regular changing of film (typically after every 24 or 36 shots)
  • Many digital cameras now include an AV-out connector (and cable) to allow the reviewing of photographs to an audience using a television
  • Anti-shake functionality (increasingly common in inexpensive cameras) allow taking sharper hand-held pictures where previously a tripod was required
  • Ability to change ISO speed settings more conveniently in the middle of shooting, for example when the weather changes from bright sunlight to cloudy. In film photography, film must be unloaded and new film with desired ISO speed loaded.
  • Smaller sensor format, compared to 35mm film frame, allows for smaller lenses, wider zoom ranges, and greater depth of field.
  • Ability to use the same device to capture video as well as still images.
  • Ability to convert the same photo from color to sepia to black & white

Advantages of professional digital cameras

  • Immediate image review and deletion is possible; lighting and composition can be assessed immediately, which ultimately conserves storage space.
  • The ability to shoot in a raw image format, containing data directly from the sensor. However, as of this writing, there are a number of proprietary RAW formats, some of which require specific software to manipulate.
  • Faster workflow: Management (colour and file), manipulation and printing tools are more versatile than conventional film processes. However, batch processing of RAW files can be time consuming, even on a fast computer.
  • Digital manipulation: A digital image can be modified and manipulated much easier and faster than with traditional negative and print methods. The digital image to the right was captured in RAW format, processed and output in 3 different ways from the source RAW file, then merged and further processed for color saturation and other special effects to produce a more dramatic result than was originally captured with the RAW image.

Disadvantages of digital cameras

  • Dependence upon spare batteries which are heavy to carry and whose lack makes equipment unusable. Batteries used by some film cameras are smaller and not drained as quickly.
  • Many digital sensors have less dynamic range than color print film. However, some newer CCDs such as Fuji’s Super CCD, which combines diodes of different sensitivity, have improved this issue.
  • When highlights burn out, they burn to white without details, while film cameras retain a reduced level of detail, as discussed above.
  • High ISO image noise manifests as multicolored speckles in digital images, rather than the less-objectionable “grain” of high-ISO film. While this speckling can be removed by noise-reduction software, either in-camera or on a computer, this can have a detrimental effect on image quality as fine detail may be lost in the process.

Tips for taking your photos from your camera to the Web (http://graphicssoft.about.com)

If you use a digital camera to take pictures for a Web page, there’s a few things you’ll need to do with your images to prepare them for the Web. At the very least the photos will need to be rotated, cropped, and resized. Most digital cameras save your pictures in the JPEG format. JPEG is known as a “lossy” format, because the compression scheme causes the image to lose detail and clarity each time the image is edited and saved. Here’s a few things you can do to combat this loss in quality:

1.        If possible, perform as many edits as possible in one session so you’re not saving to the JPEG format repeatedly.

2.        When resaving a JPEG, use the same compression setting that was used for the inital save. With digital cameras, this is not always possible, since the camera uses settings such as Basic, Normal, and High instead of numerical settings. If the numerical equivalent for the quality settings are available in your camera’s user manual, keep these numeric values handy so you can refer to them when you need to resave the JPEG images. You’ll still have some loss in quality even when you use the same compression settings, however, it will result in less damage than if you were to use different settings with each save.

3.        The best solution is to convert your images to a lossless format as soon as you download them from your camera. Leave the images in the lossless format through the editing process and only convert to JPEG as the last step before putting the images on the Web (again, use the same compression settings as the initial save, if at all possible). It’s a good idea to archive your images in a lossless format since you never know if you’ll need to edit the images for another purpose in the future. The most common lossless image formats to use are Bitmap (BMP), TIFF, and PNG. Bitmap is a uncompressed format so the images will be quite large. TIFF and PNG will result in smaller file sizes, although not as small as JPEG format. Obviously, the down side to this solution is the additional storage space required as a result of the larger file sizes.

4.        To learn more About JPEG compression issues, see Myths & Facts About JPEG.

Rotating, cropping and resizing your images is the bare minimum of steps you should take to prepare your images for the Web. In addition, your images may need color correction and other touch-ups. Resizing your images always results in some blurring, so if you’ve resized the images you’ll definItitely want to sharpen them. Sharpening photos should be the last step and you should use your software’s Unsharp Mask filter, as this gives you much greater control over the one-click sharpen command in many programs.

At this point your images should look pretty good and be ready to put onto the Web as they are. But why stop there? Images that merely look good aren’t always enough to really grab your visitors’ attention. Continue on to embellishing your photos for several examples of simple things you can do in a variety of software to make your images more memorable.

Post It!
If you’ve followed along, you’ll soon have a passel of pictures prepped and ready to post.


A camcorder is a portable electronic device for recording video and audio using a built-in recorder unit. The camcorder contains both a video camera and a video recorder in one unit, hence its portmanteau name. This compares to previous technology where an acquisition and recording devices would be separate.

The earliest camcorders, developed by companies such as JVC, Sony, and Kodak, used analog videotape. Since the 1990s recording onto digital tape became the norm. Starting from early 2000s tape as storage media is being gradually replaced with tape-free solutions like optical disks, hard disk drives and solid-state memory.

All tape-based camcorders have removable media in form of video cassettes. Solid-state camcorders can have either removable media in form of memory cards, or built-in memory, or both. HDD-based camcorders usually have non-removable media in form of a hard disk drive.

Camcorders that do not use magnetic tape are often called tapeless camcorders. Camcorders that use two different types of media, like built-in HDD and memory card, are often called hybrid camcorders.

Major components of camcorders

Camcorders contain 3 major components: lens, imager, and recorder. The lens gathers and focuses light on the imager. The imager (usually a CCD or CMOS sensor on modern camcorders; earlier examples often used vidicon tubes) converts incident light into an electrical (video) signal. Finally, the recorder encodes the video signal into a storable form. More commonly, the optics and imager are referred to as the camera section.

The lens is the first component in the camera-section’s “light-path”. The camcorder’s optics generally have one or more of the following adjustments: aperture (to control the amount of light), zoom (to control the field-of-view), and shutter speed (to capture continuous motion.) In consumer units, these adjustments are automatically controlled by the camcorder’s electronics, generally to maintain constant exposure onto the imager. Professional units offer direct user control of all major optical functions (aperture, shutter-speed, focus, etc.)

The imager section is the eye of the camcorder, housing a photosensitive device(s). The imager converts light into an electronic video-signal through an elaborate electronic process. The camera lens projects an image onto the imager surface, exposing the photosensitive array to light. The light exposure is converted into electrical charge. At the end of the timed exposure, the imager converts the accumulated charge into a continuous analog voltage at the imager’s output terminals. After scan-out is complete, the photosites are reset to start the exposure-process for the next video frame. In modern (digital) camcorders, an analog-to-digital (ADC) converter digitizes the imager (analog) waveform output into a discrete digital-video signal.

The third section, the recorder, is responsible for writing the video-signal onto a recording medium (such as magnetic videotape.) The record function involves many signal-processing steps, and historically, the recording-process introduced some distortion and noise into the stored video, such that playback of the stored-signal may not retain the same characteristics/detail as the live video feed.

Other devices with video-capture capability

Video-capture capability is now available in selected models of cellphones,digicams, and other portable consumer electronic devices such as media players.


Uses of camcorders


Camcorders have found use in nearly all corners of electronic media, from electronic news organizations to TV/current-affairs productions. In locations away from a distribution infrastructure, camcorders are invaluable for initial video acquisition. Subsequently, the video is transmitted electronically to a studio/production center for broadcast. Scheduled events such as official press conferences, where a video infrastructure is readily available or can be feasibly deployed in advance, are still covered by studio-type video cameras (tethered to “production trucks.”)

2.Home video

For casual use, camcorders often cover weddings, birthdays, graduation ceremonies, and other personal events. The rise of the consumer camcorder in the mid to late ’80s led to the creation of shows such as the long-running America’s Funniest Home Videos, where people could showcase homemade video footage.


Political protestors who have capitalized on the value of media coverage use camcorders to film things they believe to be unjust. Animal rights protesters who break into factory farms and animal testing labs use camcorders to film the conditions the animals are living in. Anti-hunting protesters film fox hunts. Tax protesters provide live coverage of anti-tax demonstrations and protests. Anti-globalization protesters film the police to deter police brutality. If the police do use violence there will be evidence on video. Activist videos often appear on Indymedia.

The police use camcorders to film riots, protests and the crowds at sporting events. The film can be used to spot and pick out troublemakers, who can then be prosecuted in court.

4.Entertainment and movies

Camcorders are often used in the production of low-budget TV shows where the production crew does not have access to more professional equipment. There are even examples of movies shot entirely on consumer camcorder equipment (see Blair Witch Project and 28 Days Later). In addition, many academic filmmaking programs have switched from 16mm film to digital video, due to the vastly reduced expense and ease of editing of the digital medium as well as the increasing scarcity of film stock and equipment. Some camcorder manufacturers cater to this market, particularly Canon and Panasonic, who both support “24p” (24 fps, progressive scan; same frame rate as standard cinema film) video in some of their high-end models for easy

Image scanner

In computing, a scanner is a device that optically scans images, printed text, handwriting, or an object, and converts it to a digital image. Common examples found in offices are variations of the desktop (or flatbed) scanner where the document is placed on a glass window for scanning. Hand-held scanners, where the device is moved by hand, were briefly popular but are now less common due to the difficulty of obtaining a high-quality image. Mechanically driven scanners that move the document are typically used for large-format documents, where a flatbed design would be impractical.

Modern scanners typically use charge-coupled device (CCD) or Contact Image Sensor (CIS) as the image sensor, whereas older drum scanners use a photomultiplier tube as the image sensor. A rotary scanner, used for high-speed document scanning, is another type of drum scanner, using a CCD array instead of a photomultiplier. Other types of scanners are planetary scanners, which take photographs of books and documents, and 3D scanners, for producing three-dimensional models of objects.

Another category of scanner is digital camera scanners, which are based on the concept of reprographic cameras. Due to increasing resolution and new features such as anti-shake, digital cameras have become an attractive alternative to regular scanners. While still having disadvantages compared to traditional scanners, digital cameras offer advantages in speed and portability.


Graphics are visual presentations on some surface, such as a wall, canvas, computer screen, paper, or stone to brand, inform, illustrate, or entertain. In the 1990s, Internet speeds increased, and Internet browsers capable of viewing images were released, the first being Mosaic. Websites began to use the GIP format to display small graphics, such as banners, advertisements and navigation buttons, on web pages. Modern web browsers can now display JPEG, PNG and increasingly, SVG images in addition to GIFs on web pages. SVG, and to some extent VML, support in some modern web browsers have made it possible to display vector graphics that are clear at any size. Plugins expand the web browser functions to display animated, interactive and 3-D graphics contained within file formats such as SWF and X3D. Most modern web graphics are made with either Adobe Photoshop, the GIMP, or Corel Paint Shop Pro. However, users of Microsoft Windows mostly have MS Paint, which many find to be lacking in features.

Some commonly used web graphics formats

1. GIF Format

Pronounced jiff or giff (hard g) stands for Graphics Interchange Format, a bit-mapped graphics file format used by the World Wide Web, CompuServe and many BBSs. GIF supports color and various resolutions. It also includes data compression, but because it is limited to 256 colors, it is more effective for scanned images such as illustrations rather than color photos. GIF images are commonly used on the Web for buttons, headings, and logos. GIF files are best for images with fewer, flatter colors. Use this for “presentation graphics” type images: charts, graphs, or text set as graphics. The fewer colors you use, the more efficient GIF files are.

 You can easily convert most images to the GIF format in any image editing software. Keep in mind that photographic images are better suited for the JPEG format. Here’s how to convert most images to the GIF format:

1.        Open the image in your image editing software.

2.        Go to the File menu and choose Save As.

3.        Type a file name for your new image.

4.        Select GIF from the Save as Type drop down menu.

Advantages of GIF files

  • GIF is the most widely supported graphics format on the Web. it is supported by practically all web browsers, 
  • GIFs of diagrammatic images look better than JPEGs
  • GIF supports transparency and interlacing . It can include transparent backgrounds, GIF files can be “interlaced” so they appear to fade in, from lower to higher quality, while loading. This gives your visitors something to look at while they’re waiting.
  • It is ideal for images with a few colors, flat cartoon like images for example. This is why ads on Web pages use GIF. Small photographs (say 300 by 300 pixels max) can also look good in GIF format.
  • It is one of the few file formats which can contain animation. Again this is why ads on Web pages use GIF. GIF files can be transparent. This means you can select one color to “not show” causing your browser’s background color to show through. This keeps your graphics from looking as if they’re in boxes and visually makes them more a part of the page.

Disadvantages of GIF files

  • Lack of colours (only 256) makes it unsuitable as a storage format for large photographs with many colours.
  • Even though the file size is smaller, it can sometimes be bigger than in JPEG files.
  • Since it is a compressed file format you will almost certainly lose detail and colours if you use it for large photographs. By large photographs I mean the size of photos modern digital cameras produce, starting ay 1024 pixels wide.

2. JPEG Format

Short for Joint Photographic Experts Group, and pronounced jay-peg. JPEG is a lossy compression technique for color images. Although it can reduce files sizes to about 5% of their normal size, some detail is lost in the compression.  JPEG stands for “Joint Photographic Expert Group” and, as its name suggests, was specifically developed for storing photographic images.  It has also become a standard format for storing images in digital cameras and displaying photographic images on internet web pages.  JPEG files are significantly smaller than those saved as TIFF, however this comes at a cost since JPEG employs lossy compression.  A great thing about JPEG files is their flexibility. The JPEG file fomat is really a toolkit of options whose settings can be altered to fit the needs of each image.

JPEG files achieve a smaller file size by compressing the image in a way that retains detail which matters most, while discarding details deemed to be less visually impactful.  JPEG does this by taking advantage of the fact that the human eye notices slight differences in brightness more than slight differences in color.  The amount of compression achieved is therefore highly dependent on the image content; images with high noise nevels or lots of detail will not be as easily compressed, whereas images with smooth skies and little texture will compress very well.


Advantages of JPEG images

JPEG compression offers the following advantages and strengths:

  • It provides support for full 24 bit colour images. In contrast, GIF only support 8 bit images.
  • Tthe compressed image size and image quality trade of can be user determined. JPEG produces excellent results for most photographs and complex images
  • Iit is ideally suited to images of real world scenes, or computer generated images which are complex.
  • It is platform independent for displaying 24 bit images. It is currently the most widely adhered to standard, with the algorithm, source code implementations and public domain viewers readily available
  • Huge compression ratios mean faster download speeds. it provides fast compression speed compared to fractal compression

Disadvantages of JPEG images

The weaknesses and disadvantages of JPEG are:

  • JPEG compression is a tradeof between degree of compression, resultant image quality and time required for compression/decompression. Blockiness results at high image compression ratios.
  • It produces poor image quality when compressing text or images containing sharp edges or lines. Gibb’s effect is the name given to this phenomenon where disturbances/ripples may be seen at the margins of objects with sharp borders.
  • It is not suitable for 2 bit black and white images.
  • The degree of compression is greater for full colour images then it is for grey scale images.
  • It is not suitable as a strategy for images that are still being edited, because every compression/decompression cycle continues to lose information.
  • It is not intended for moving images/video.
  • It is not resolution independent. Does not provide for scalability, where the image is displayed optimally depending on the resolution of the viewing device.


TIFF stands for “Tagged Image File Format.” This is a standard in the printing and publishing industry.  TIFF files are significantly larger than their JPEG counterparts, and can be either uncompressed or compressed using lossless compression.  Unlike JPEG, TIFF files can have a bit depth of either 16-bits per channel or 8-bits per channel, and multiple layered images can be stored in a single TIFF file. TIFF files are an excellent option for archiving intermediate files which you may edit later, since it introduces no compression artifacts.  Many cameras have an option to create images as TIFF files, but these can consume excessive space compared to the same JPEG file.  If your camera supports the raw file format this is a superior alternative, since these are significantly smaller and can retain even more information about your image.

4. PNG

PNG stands for Progressive Network Graphics. PNG is the newest graphics file format for the Web, but it’s only supported by newer browsers. These files will not appear in older browsers, so using this format will cause some of your site visitors to be unable to see your graphics .PNG files are compact and versatile and can combine the best features of GIF and JPG, such as the ability to have transparent backgrounds or the ability to contain images with millions of colors. Despite this, the PNG format is still not widely used, mostly because it’s not supported by older browsers. While it’s an efficient and useful file format, you may want to hold off using it until fewer people use older browsers.


The most common graphics mistake people make on the Web is to use the wrong file format for their images. But the choice is really quite simple:

  • If a graphic has few colors, choose GIF.
  • If a graphic has a lot of colors (such as a photo), choose JPEG.


That’s it.

Choosing the right format can ensure that your graphics look good and appear quickly on your visitor’s computer. Choosing the wrong format makes your graphics look bad and take forever to download. So if you can’t remember these two simple rules, then consider having them tattooed somewhere on your person.

For the sake of discussion, let’s separate all possible image content into either photographic or simple categories. A simple image generally consists of text, charts, and diagrams, anything with sharp edges or large bodies of continuous color. A photographic image can be anything from a picture of your pet, Sigmund the Wonder Dog, to a painting, basically anything with a large amount of noncontinuous

colors. As a general rule, “simple” content should be saved as GIF files and “photographic” as JPG files.

The images in this paragraph demonstrate the give and take struggle between file size and image quality that you will find yourself dealing with often. This image is correctly saved as a GIF in the left image and incorrectly on the right as a JPG. They are equal in file size, but it is easy to see which wins out in the quality race–GIF is better for non-photographic images.

But JPG is virtually always more efficient (and better looking) for photos, as seen below. But JPG file sizes and image quality can vary, so you need to understand a little about JPG compression.

JPG compression and file sizes: If uncompressed, this image would be almost 100K. When saved as a JPG with quality set to 80, the file is reduced to 10K. Raising the JPG compression to 30 (middle image) gives you a file that’s only 5K, yet the loss of quality is not too obvious. The image on the right is saved with JPG compression set at 10, and while the file is only 3K, there is a clear loss of image quality. In this case, it’s worth the extra 2K (1 second) of download time to use the image with 30 compression rather than 10 compression. The image on the right was saved as GIF, not only is it larger than it needs to be (at 12K), but the quality is also not as good. While you can get good quality photos from GIF files, the file sizes will be much larger than JPG files of the same images. In this case, a GIF version that looked closest to the JPG/80 image would be 29K, three to six times bigger than necessary (which means it would take three to six times longer to download than necessary).

Compression and quality will vary from image to image, so it’s best to use software that gives you a preview before you save—this allows you to experiment with various levels of compression to choose the best compromise between quality and file size.

Your original graphics files

While you must use either GIF or JPG on the Web when you’re creating graphics, you should save your original work in a format such as TIF (Tagged Image File Format) or the native format of your graphics program. Why? Because both GIF and JPG compromise image quality for the sake of compression.


If deciding individual file types to save your images in isn’t the most misunderstood concept in Web design, resolution is.

The number of pixels that can be displayed on the screen is referred to as the screen resolution. The greater this resolution, the more pixels that can be displayed, which allows for more to be shown on a monitor at once.

But, and there’s this give and take when we deal with on-line design, pixels are smaller at high resolution and detail can be hard to make out on smaller screens. As a rule, graphics for the Web should be no larger than approximately 600 pixels wide as most people view the Web at a screen resolution of 640×480. Graphics wider than 640 won’t fully display without the annoying left and right scrolling.

When designing for the Web, resolution greater than 72 dpi (dots per inch) is a waste. There is no benefit to higher resolutions as computer monitors are unable to display them any better. Files will be larger and take longer to download, but the image quality on screen will not be better.

Finally, it can be confusing to think about resolution at all—so it’s best just to think about the size of your graphic in terms of pixels. When you create a graphic, your graphics program should be able to tell you how many pixels tall and wide it is—that’s what is really important.



Color “depth”

Each pixel of your on-screen image is displayed on a monitor using a combination of three color signals: red, green, and blue. The intensity of these signals determines its appearance.

On a black and white TV or monitor, pixels have only two possible colors: black or white. That’s called “1-bit” because the pixel is either on or off.

On color monitors, it gets more complicated. Each pixel can display a number of colors, from 16 (4-bit) to 16 million (24-bit). Most computer monitors today can display 256 colors (8-bit) per pixel. Newer computers routinely display 65,000 (16-bit) to 16 million colors.

Because most of your Web visitors’ systems display only 256 colors, that’s the number of colors you should design for. This doesn’t apply to photos, however, which should always be saved as 24-bit JPG files. To learn more about color and Web graphics, see Lynda Weinman’s WebColor articles.

Knowing your limitations

Good graphics on the Web are always a compromise between how good a picture looks and how long it takes your Web visitor to download and see it. But if you keep this in mind, you can create fast, good-looking graphics.

To read more about graphic software, what they do, and which one would be best for what you´re doing, click here.

Creating graphics for the Web:


In order to get graphics to behave themselves on the Web, we first have to compress them to take up as little room as possible, so that it takes as little time as possible for the viewer to download them. Opinions vary, but must people reckon that above 50K is getting too big, particularly if you combine several images on a page.

You’ve almost certainly used compression before, probably with a product like StuffIt to pack down a graphic to fit on a floppy before sending it off to a bureau. The two main Internet graphics formats, GIF and JPEG, have such compression built in, but there are major differences between the two, as we shall see.

Side note: although GIF and JPEG are dominant there are other Web graphics formats, such as PNG or Lightning Strike compressed images. We’ll deal with these in later issues of Creating Web Graphics: for now, we’ll assume that GIF and JPEG are universal.


The parameters that influence the display of Web graphics are the user’s display monitor and bandwidth capacity. A good segment of the Web audience accesses the Internet via modem, and many view Web pages on monitors that display only 256 colors. This reality imposes limits on the size of files and number of colours that can be included in Web graphics.

Screen resolution

Screen resolution refers to the number of pixels a screen can display within a given area. Screen resolution is usually expressed in pixels per linear inch of screen. Most personal computer displays have resolutions that vary from 72 to 96 pixels per inch (ppi). The resolution of the display screen is dependent on how the monitor and display card are configured, but it’s safe to assume that most users fall into the lower end of the range, or about 72 to 80 ppi.

Images destined for print can be created at various resolutions, but images for Web pages are always limited by the resolution of the computer screen. Thus a square GIF graphic of 72 by 72 pixels will be approximately one inch square on a 72-ppi display monitor. When you are creating graphics for Web pages you should always use the 1:1 display ratio (one pixel in the image equals one pixel on the screen), because this is how big the image will display on the Web page. Images that are too large should be reduced in size with a sophisticated image editor like Adobe’s Photoshop to display at proper size at a resolution of 72 ppi.

Graphics and network bandwidth

Many Web users currently access their Internet service providers via 56 kilobits per second (KBps) modems from their homes, offices, or remote work sites. At 56 KBps the actual download rate is only about 7 kilobytes (KB) per second (8 bits make a byte). This means that a modest 36 KB graphic on your Web page could take five seconds or longer to load into the reader’s Web browser. Actual data transmission rates will vary depending on the user’s modem, Web server speed, Internet connection, and other factors, but the overall point is clear: the more graphics you incorporate, the longer the reader will have to wait to see your page. A full-screen graphic menu on your home page plus background graphics could leave your modem-based readers twiddling their thumbs for a full minute or more, even if they have a state-of-the-art modem and a good Internet connection. Look at your watch (better yet, hold your breath) for a full minute, then decide whether you’re willing to ask your users to wait this long when they visit your Web site.

A better strategy is to increase the graphics loading of your pages gradually, drawing users into your site with reasonable download times. As readers become more engaged with your content, they will be more willing to endure longer delays, especially if you give them notes about the size of graphics or warnings that particular pages are full of graphics and will take longer to download. At today’s average modem speeds most pages designed for users dialing in from home should contain no more than 50 to 75 kilobytes of graphics.

Graphics and intranets

Luckily for graphic designers, many Web sites are created primarily for educational, organizational, and commercial users who access their local intranets and the larger World Wide Web from the school or office at Ethernet speeds or greater. Also, increasing numbers of home users now have access to higher-speed connections like DSL and cable modems. Graphics and page performance are also an issue for these users, but it makes little sense to restrict Web page graphics arbitrarily in the cause of “saving network bandwidth.” The bandwidth gearheads always miss the point: graphics are what drew most people to the Web in the first place. If you’ve got the access speed, indulge!



Image editing encompasses the processes of altering images, whether they be digital photographs, traditional analog photographs, or illustrations. Before digital scanners and cameras became mainstream, traditional analog image editing was known as photo retouching, using tools such as an airbrush to modify photographs, or editing illustrations with any traditional art medium. However, since the advent of digital images, analog image editing has become largely obsolete. Graphic software programs, which can be broadly grouped into vector graphics editors, raster graphics editors, and 3d modelers, are the primary tools with which a user may manipulate, enhance, and transform images. Many image editing programs are also used to render or create computer art from scratch.

Basics of image editing

Raster images are stored in a computer in the form of a grid of picture elements, or pixels. These pixels contain the image’s color and brightness information. Image editors can change the pixels to enhance the image in many ways. The pixels can be changed as a group, or individually, by the sophisticated algorithms within the image editors. The domain of this article primarily refers to bitmap graphics editors, which are often used to alter photographs and other raster graphics. However, vector graphics software, such as Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape, are used to create and modify vector images, which are stored as descriptions of lines, Bézier splines, and text instead of pixels. It is easier to rasterize a vector image than to vectorize a raster image- how to go about vectorizing a raster image is the focus of much research in the field of computer vision. People like vector images because they are easy to modify, containing descriptions of the shapes in them for easy rearrangement, as well as scalable, being rasterizable at any resolution– to rasterize a vector image is simply to render it, while scaling a raster image up involves guessing at data that isn’t there (see aliasing and other articles on information theory for more), and even scaling a raster image down involves guessing unless the scaling factor is an integer.

Editing programs

Due to the popularity of digital cameras, image editing programs are readily available. Minimal programs, that perform such operations as rotating and cropping are often provided within the digital camera itself, while others are returned to the user on a compact disc (CD) when images are processed at a discount store. The more powerful programs contain functionality to perform a large variety of advanced image manipulations. Popular raster-based digital image editors include Adobe Photoshop, GIMP, Corel Photo-Paint, Paint Shop Pro and Paint.NET. For more, see: List of raster graphics editors.

Digital data compression

Many image file formats use data compression to reduce file size and save storage space. Digital compression of images may take place in the camera, or can be done in the computer with the image editor. When images are stored in JPEG format, compression has already taken place. Both cameras and computer programs allow the user to set the level of compression.

Some compression algorithms, such as those used in PNG file format, are lossless, which means no information is lost when the file is saved. The JPEG file format uses a lossy compression algorithm- The greater the compression, the more information is lost, ultimately reducing image quality or detail. JPEG uses knowledge of the way the brain and eyes perceive color to make this loss of detail less noticeable.


Image editor features

Listed below are some of the most used capabilities of the better graphic manipulation programs. The list is by no means all inclusive. There are a myriad of choices associated with the application of most of these features.


One of the prerequisites for many of the applications mentioned below is a method of selecting part(s) of an image, thus applying a change selectively without affecting the entire picture. Most graphics programs have several means of accomplishing this, such as a marquee tool, lasso, vector-based pen tools as well as more advanced facilities such as edge detection, masking, alpha compositing, and color and channel-based extraction.


Another feature common to many graphics applications is that of Layers, which are analogous to sheets of transparent acetate (each containing separate elements that make up a combined picture), stacked on top of each other, each capable of being individually positioned, altered and blended with the layers below, without affecting any of the elements on the other layers. This is a fundamental workflow which has become the norm for the majority of programs on the market today, and enables maximum flexibility for the user whilst maintaining non-destructive editing principles and ease of use.

Image size alteration

Image editors can resize images in a process often called image scaling, making them larger, or smaller. High image resolution cameras can produce large images which are often reduced in size for Internet use. Image editor programs use a mathematical process called resampling to calculate new pixel values whose spacing is larger or smaller than the original pixel values. Images for Internet use are kept small, say 640 x 480 pixels which would equal 0.3 megapixels.

Cropping an image

Digital editors are used to crop images. Cropping creates a new image by selecting a desired rectangular portion from the image being cropped. The unwanted part of the image is discarded. Image cropping does not reduce the resolution of the area cropped. Best results are obtained when the original image has a high resolution. A primary reason for cropping is to improve the image composition in the new image.

Uncropped image from camera

Lilly cropped from larger image


Image editors have provisions to create an image histogram of the image being edited. The histogram plots the number of pixels in the image (vertical axis) with a particular brightness value (horizontal axis). Algorithms in the digital editor allow the user to visually adjust the brightness value of each pixel and to dynamically display the results as adjustments are made. Improvements in picture brightness and contrast can thus be obtained.

Sunflower image

Histogram of Sunflower image

Noise removal

Image editors may feature a number of algorithms which can add or remove noise in an image. JPEG artifacts can be removed; dust and scratches can be removed and an image can be de-speckled. Noise removal merely estimates the state of the scene without the noise and is not a substitute for obtaining a “cleaner” image. Excessive noise reduction leads to a loss of detail, and its application is hence subject to a trade-off between the undesirability of the noise itself and that of the reduction artifacts.

Noise tends to invade images when pictures are taken in low light settings. A new picture can be given an ‘antiquated’ effect by adding uniform monochrome noise.

Removal of unwanted elements

Most image editors can be used to remove unwanted branches, etc, using a “clone” tool. Removing these distracting elements draws focus to the subject, improving overall composition.

Notice the branch in the original

The eye is drawn to the center of the globe

Selective color change

Some image editors have color swapping abilities to selectively change the color of specific items in an image, given that the selected items are within a specific color range.










An example of selective color change, the original is on the left.

The original car is on the right.

Image orientation

Image orientation: left–original; center–30° CCW rotation; right–flopped .

Image editors are capable of altering an image to be rotated in any direction and to any degree. Mirror images can be created and images can be horizontally flipped or vertically flopped. A small rotation of several degrees is often enough to level the horizon, correct verticality (of a building, for example), or both. Rotated images usually require cropping afterwards, in order to remove the resulting gaps at the image edges.


Perspective correction and distortion

Perspective correction: left–original, uncorrected
right–perspective distortion removed.

Some image editors allow the user to distort (or “transform”) the shape of an image. While this might also be useful for special effects, it is the preferred method of correcting the typical perspective distortion which results from photographs being taken at an oblique angle to a rectilinear subject. Care is needed while performing this task, as the image is reprocessed using interpolation of adjacent pixels, which may reduce overall image definition. The effect mimics the use of a perspective correction lens, which achieves a similar correction in-camera without loss of definition.

Lens correction

Photo manipulation packages have functions to correct images for various lens distortions including pincushion, fisheye and barrel distortions. The corrections are in most cases subtle, but can improve the appearance of some photographs.


Sharpening and softening images

Graphics programs can be used to both sharpen and blur images in a number of ways. Portraits often appear more pleasing when softened (particularly the background, to make the subject stand out more — this is an example of shallow depth of field which can be achieved with a camera by using a large aperture, or artificially within software, by selecting the background portion of an image, and then blurring it). The red-eye effect, which occurs when flash photos are taken when the pupil is too widely open (thus reflecting back the color of the blood-rich retina), can also be eliminated. Edge enhancement is an extremely common technique used to make images appear sharper, although many purists frown on the end result as less natural-looking.

Merging of images

John and Bertha Phillips — 1910

Many graphics applications are capable of merging one or more individual images into a single file. The orientation and placement of each image can be controlled. The two images shown here were once individual studio portraits.

Slicing of images

A more recent tool in digital image editing software is the image slicer. Parts of images for graphical user interfaces or web pages are easily sliced, labeled and saved separately from whole images so the parts can be handled individually by the display medium. This is useful to allow dynamic swapping via interactivity or animating parts of an image in the final presentation.










Special effects

An example of some special effects that can be added to a picture.

Image editors usually have a list of special effects that can create unusual results. Images may be skewed and distorted in various ways. Scores of special effects can be applied to an image which include various forms of distortion, artistic effects, geometric and texture effects, and combinations thereof.

Change color depth

An example of converting an image from color to grayscale.

It is possible, using software, to change the color depth of images. Common color depths are 2, 4, 16, 256, 65.5 thousand and 16.7 million colors. The JPEG and PNG image formats are capable of storing 16.7 million colors (equal to 256 luminance values per color channel). In addition, grayscale images of 8 bits or less can be created, usually via conversion and down-sampling from a full color image.






Contrast change and brightening

An example of contrast correction. Left side of the image is untouched.

Image editors have provisions to change the contrast of images and brighten or darken the image. Underexposed images can be often be improved by using this feature. Recent advances have allowed more intelligent exposure correction whereby only pixels below a particular luminosity threshold are brightened, thereby brightening underexposed shadows without affecting the rest of the image.

Color adjustments

An example of color adjustment using Photoshop

Color retouched photo (cycles every 3 seconds)

The color of images can be altered in a variety of ways. Colors can be faded in and out, and tones can be changed using curves or other tools. The color balance can be improved, which is important if the picture was shot indoors with daylight film, or shot on a camera that with an incorrectly adjusted white balance. Special effects, like sepia and grayscale can be added to an image. In addition, more complicated procedures such as the mixing of color channels are possible using more advanced graphics editors.




Controlling the print size and quality of digital images requires an understanding of the pixels-per-inch (ppi) variable that is stored in the image file and sometimes used to control the size of the printed image. Within the Image Size dialog (as it is called in Photoshop), the image editor allows the user to manipulate both pixel dimensions and the size of the image on the printed document. These parameters work together to produce a printed image of the desired size and quality. Pixels per inch of the image, pixel per inch of the computer monitor, and dots per inch on the printed document are related, but in use are very different. The Image Size dialog can be used as an image calculator of sorts. For example, a 1600 x 1200 image with a ppi of 200 will produce a printed image of 8 x 6 inches. The same image with a ppi of 400 will produce a printed image of 4 x 3 inches. Change the ppi to 800, and the same image now prints out at 2 x 1.5 inches. All three printed images contain the same data (1600 x 1200 pixels) but the pixels are closer together on the smaller prints, so the smaller images will potentially look sharp when the larger ones do not. The quality of the image will also depend on the capability of the printer.

Among the main issues of photojournalism — in newspapers, on TV, or on the Internet — are:

1. Manipulation of digital images

Software such as Adobe PhotoShop and its imitators has created a new age of photography. With the click of a mouse you can create a new ‘truth’ by changing, in an instant, the size, shape and color of the image and the distance between objects. Objects can be removed from the image, or inserted into the picture. For example, if you are a hockey photographer, you could add a puck to the scene of a goalmouth scramble — if the real puck was obscured by a player. If you are a travel photographer, you can reduce the distance of the pyramids in your image so they fit the cover page of your magazine.

Imagine this conversation between the photojournalist and his editor: “Blur her eyes a bit to give the illusion of tears – you know the public loves drama – and while you’re at it, cut out the fourth child, no one has to know about him, three children is enough to make a point.”

It’s the composite character of the digital age. Adobe touts its “groundbreaking creative tools [that] help you achieve extraordinary results.” Extraordinary, they may be, but they may be misused by journalists to alter the truth or to mislead the public.

2. Intrusion into privacy

The development of long-range lens and the demand for attention-grabbing photos combine to make privacy a major ethical issue. When is it legitimate to take pictures of people in private moments? Should photojournalists capture images of politicians, movie stars and other public figures in private spaces? Should photojournalists take shots of families in grief, or victims of tragedy? The public perception of the journalist, and of the news media in general, has suffered from unjustified intrusions into privacy. The ethical question is: When is intrusion justified?

3. Graphic or shocking images

How graphic should — or must — images be to tell the news story? If news outlets use graphic pictures of war, they are accused of exploiting the pain of others. If they avoid graphic photos, they are accused of “sanitizing” the conflict. What criteria should guide photo decisions — local or community standards? Newsworthiness? Dramatic impact? A commitment to tell the whole truth?

According to Al Tompkins from the Poynter Institute in the U.S., when deciding whether a photograph is too graphic for the paper, newsrooms should consider: “What is the real journalistic value of the photographs? What do they prove and why are they news? Do they dispel or affirm information the public had prior to seeing the images?” By looking at the photos in terms of what they add to the news, editors should be able to determine whether publication is appropriate.

Ethical guidelines

Ethical guidelines have begun to address the new problems facing photojournalists. Many editors and responsible news organizations refuse to publish altered photographs. Photos that have been digitally altered are now labeled montages or photo illustrations. The technology of photojournalism may have changed, but its truth-telling essence can still remain.

In the Elements of Journalism, authors Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel wrote that “the purpose of journalism is not defined by technology…for all that the face of journalism has changed, indeed, its purpose has remained remarkably constant.” For photojournalism, this means that journalists need to guide their decisions by the basic principles of journalism — truth-telling, serving the public interest, acting responsibly and being accountable.


Sample cases of the ethical issues in photojournalism

1. Victims of Violence

After a gruesome image of dead or grieving victims of a tragic event is presented to the public in either the print or screen media, many viewers are often repulsed and offended by the picture. Nevertheless, violence and tragedy are staples of American journalism. “If it bleeds, it leads” is a popular, unspoken sentiment in many newsrooms. The reason for this obvious incongruity is that a majority of viewers are attracted and intrigued by such stories. Photojournalists who win Pulitzer Prizes and other international competitions are almost always witness to excruciatingly painful human tragedies that nevertheless get published or broadcast. It is as if viewers want to see violent pictures, but through gaps in the fingers in front of their face.

When television station WSVN, Channel 7, in Miami lost its affiliation with NBC, it joined the FOX network and had to quickly generate high ratings in order to survive. In order to appeal to a younger audience, the station started specializing in gory crime news. The programming change was described as “a continuous barrage of the body bags on the street and the blood coming out of them.” The content of the nightly news cast was so upsetting that nine area hotels banned the station from its television sets, lest out-of-town guests get the wrong impression about Miami (which backwards reads “I maim.”) Complaints about hotel censorship from station executives were framed within a utilitarian context. As one television spokesperson said, “To mask crime stories would not be fair to the viewers.”2 But to be honest, both sides presented hedonistic arguments based on a fear of lost revenue due to a decline in tourism or a decline in viewers.

Editors need to be sure that images of murder or automobile victims are really necessary to tell the story. Journalists often cite the reason for using such visual messages as a way to warn others of the dangers of modern living or to urge drivers to watch the speed limit. Another, perhaps more honest reason, is to avoid being scooped by a rival media organization. Despite well-rehearsed explanations, sensational images of victims of violence are shown as much for economic as utilitarian reasons. The media concentration on criminal activity creates an exaggerated perception of crime in the minds of viewers. Rather than focusing on bloody body bags, journalists need to explain the underlying social forces that cause such tragic events to occur.

2. Right to Privacy

Privacy concerns are almost always voiced by ordinary citizens or celebrities who are suddenly thrust in front of the unblinking lens of a camera because of connection to some sensational news story. Seldom do you hear viewers complain about violating someone else’s right to privacy. Courts in America have consistently maintained that privacy rights differ between private and public persons. Private citizens have much more strictly enforced rights to their own privacy than celebrities who often ask for media attention. Not surprisingly, celebrities bitterly complain when they are the subject of relentless media attention because of some controversial allegation.

O.J. Simpson ran from defensive football players for teams in California and New York and over airport obstacles in Hertz car rental commercials. But when his mostly hidden violent personality was tragically revealed, he couldn’t run from the media. With video cameras set in front of Simpson’s mansion and in helicopters following his bizarre travels throughout Southern California freeways, news personnel were able to broadcast live his every move to a world-wide audience.3

Critics were divided on the media’s obsession with the sensational double murder case. But the attention is easily explained. The story involved one of the most hard-fought and fragile entities of any society — the celebrity. O. J. was beloved and respected by countless fans around the world. His fall from grace is at once shocking and extremely interesting. Such a story simply has to be covered. And part of that coverage involves the key and secondary characters that are caught in the media’s story-telling web. When a news story is so compelling as to draw world-wide attention, a person — whether celebrity or neighbor — has a legal right to privacy that is defined by the height of the fence outside their house.

For private or public citizens, perhaps the most stressful news story is the funeral of a loved one. A guiding principle for journalists in deciding to cover such a story is whether the event is newsworthy. Newsworthiness is not determined by the number of cameras pointed through the gate at the cemetery, but a concept with roots to unemotional, objective and reasoned journalism principles. In 1946, the Hutchins Commission came out with a definition of news that still applies today: A truthful, comprehensive, and intelligent account of the day’s events in a context which gives them meaning. Unfortunately, media officials under pressure from circulation or rating figures make decisions that sensationalize rather than explain complex stories of interest to the public. Live pictures for the nightly newscast of a speculating reporter in front of a brightly lit brick mansion increase the charge of sensational coverage by critics. In an ideal world, journalists tell stories in words and pictures that explain rather than cause a viewer to ask more questions.

3. Picture Manipulations

Picture and subject manipulations have been a part of photography since it was first invented.4 But because of computer technology, digital manipulations are relatively easy to accomplish, hard to detect and perhaps more alarming, alter the original image so that checking the authenticity of the picture is impossible. Some critics have predicted that in a few years, images — whether still or moving — will not be allowed in trials as physical evidence because of the threat to their veracity created by digital alterations.

Tonya and Nancy. Who can (or would love to) forget the Harding v. Kerrigan soap opera that nearly froze the 1994 Winter Olympic games? In the dead of winter, editors at New York Newsday published a slick cover picture of the two cold-faced skaters under a large headline, “Fire on Ice” and above a confusing subhead, “Tonya, Nancy To Meet At Practice.”5 But the color photograph showed the two skating next to each other. Didn’t they meet when the picture was taken? The obvious answer (at least in this context) is that the picture was a lie — it was a composite of two different images manipulated with a computer.

Newspaper editors across the country published a condemnation of the computer technique. How dare Newsday use an altered photo for a news event?6 But lost in the criticism is the fact that the editors for the publication did everything they were suppose to do when turning a news picture into an illustration. For also on the cover in bold, black, sans serif type is the cutline for the image:

Tonya Harding, left, and Nancy Kerrigan appear to skate together in this New York Newsday composite illustration. Tomorrow, they’ll take to the ice together.

In addition, a byline beside the picture identified the photographers of the separate images.

So what’s the problem? Why was there so much criticism from fellow journalists? The answer is that admitting to a lie doesn’t make the lie acceptable.

Cameras and the images they produce are naively thought by many to never lie. But because humans operate the machine, technical, composition and content manipulations are unavoidable. Computer technology did not start the decline in the credibility of pictures, but it has hastened it. Photographic darkrooms are quickly being replaced by computer workstation lightrooms. But as long as photojournalists do not subtract or add parts of a picture’s internal elements, almost any other manipulation once accomplished in a photographic darkroom is considered ethical for news-editorial purposes.

Two factors may guard against a further erosion of credibility in visual messages: Reputation of the media organization that publishes or broadcasts images and the words that accompany the manipulated picture.

Credibility is not an inherent quality of a particular picture, but a concept based on tradition, story choices, design considerations and reader perception of the company or individual that produces the image. Reputation is what separates the difference in picture credibility between The New York Times, the National Enquirer, “CBS Evening News,” or “Hard Copy.”

Words are also vital in assuring the credibility of a news organization and a picture. If a photojournalist or art director is tempted to combine parts from two separate pictures to create a third picture, the reader needs to know that such an action has taken place. The cutline for the image should include the details of the manipulation while the image itself should be labeled an illustration — not a news-editorial picture. Such an addition would at least solve one aspect of the ethical problem — letting the reader know of the illustrative technique.

However, a larger question remains: In this age of digital manipulation and desktop publishing, why do computer operators feel the need to turn news-editorial photographs into illustrations? Journalism professionals need to face the issue of photojournalism images being replaced by illustrations and not concern themselves so much with the tool that makes that ethical problem topical.

4. Stereotyping

African Americans are criminals. Latinos are gang members. Native Americans are alcoholics. Wheelchair-bound individuals are helpless. Gays are effeminate. Lesbians wear their hair short. Older adults need constant care. Anglos from the Southern states are rednecks. Homeless people are drug addicts. These prevalent stereotypes are perpetuated by images presented in the media. Stereotypical portrayals of ethnic, gender, physical characteristic, sexual preference and job-related cultural groups are a result of journalism professionals being lazy, ignorant or racist. As with the printing term from which the word comes, to stereotype is a short-hand way to describe a person with collective, rather than unique characteristics. It is easier and quicker for a photojournalist to take a picture of an angry African American during a riot than to take the time to explore in words and pictures the underlying social problems that are responsible for the civil disturbance. Critics complain that at best ignorance and at worse racism is the reason stereotypes persist. Racism may explain why mainstream media are slow to cover human catastrophes in remote sections of the world such as in Rwanda, Somalia and South-Central.

On April 29, 1992, four LAPD police officers were acquitted by an all-Anglo jury of unnecessarily beating Rodney King the year before. The surprising verdict sparked an orgy of violence, vandalism and looting never before seen in American history. More than 50 lives were lost, over a billion dollars in property damage was reported and hundreds of persons were arrested. On the cover of Newsweek magazine, readers were afforded a close-up picture of a young, angry African American man wearing a turned-around baseball cap and yelling while in front of a building engulfed in flames.7 Although dramatic, the color picture illustrates a problem with the media: African Americans are more often than not shown as criminals to be feared. Research studies have shown that magazines and newspapers publish few photographs of African Americans, but when editors do select pictures that include African Americans, they are almost always concerned with crime, sports or entertainment.8 In fact, most people from diverse cultures are shown as their stereotype and not as ordinary people with everyday hopes and concerns.

Many readers form their opinions about individuals from cultural groups from the pictures they see in the media. Editors should make an assessment of the pictorial coverage of under-represented groups for their own newspaper or television station. If biases are found, photographers, reporters and editors should attend sensitivity training workshops in order to promote more fair and balanced images. For example, to break the stereotypical sports coverage of African Americans, show athletes with interests other than sports. And to avoid reporting errors or omissions, have culturally diverse news-editorial staffs with experts knowledgeable about local and foreign issues and events.

5. Advertising/Editorial Blurring

With names such as “advertorials” and “infomercials,” advertisers mimic the production cues of print and screen journalists to persuade an unsuspecting viewer to purchase a product. With full-page ads in newspapers and magazines that resemble news-editorial pages and 30-minute commercials that look like talk shows, corporate executives rely on the credibility of the media to fool its audience of trusting viewers. Most consumers of the media can easily tell the difference between an advertisement and a news story. But sometimes the distinction is so subtle, only highly observant readers can tell the difference.

In 1992, the Benetton clothing company was criticized so severely for using news pictures in their print advertisements that the campaign was ended. One startling image — AIDS victim David Kirby on his deathbed surrounded by his grieving family — produced a firestorm of media attention.9 AIDS activists denounced the use of a family’s tragedy to sell sweaters. Media critics were alarmed that the photograph spread across two pages in a magazine appeared at first glance to be a news-editorial image.10 An unsuspecting magazine reader is briefly fooled into noticing the powerful visual message because of the perception that the picture is a part of a news story. Once the green Benetton logo and “800” catalog ordering telephone number where a clothes catalogue can be ordered is noticed, it is too late. Advertising and journalism have been intentionally fused into the advertorial. From that moment on, the reader may be skeptical of all the rest of the pictures and stories in the magazine. Credibility — a priceless commodity — is reduced.

With the case of the Newsday cover of Tonya and Nancy, the decision to manipulate the cover image was not made solely for an illustrative reason — in a highly competitive, mostly street-sales environment, an eye-catching cover picture acts as an ad for the publication. If journalism professionals concede the cover or top half of a magazine or newspaper as belonging to the realm of advertising rather than news-editorial content, there will no longer be credibility for any other story, quotation or image within the pages of the publication.


Smaller, lighter cameras greatly enhanced the role of the photojournalist. Since the 1960s, motor drives, electronic flash, auto-focus, better lenses and other camera enhancements have made picture taking easier. New digital cameras free photojournalists from the limitation of film roll length, as thousands of images can be stored on a single microdrive or memory card.

Content remains the most important element of photojournalism, but the ability to extend deadlines with rapid gathering and editing of images has brought significant changes. As recently as 15 years ago, nearly 30 minutes were needed to scan and transmit a single color photograph from a remote location to a news office for printing. Now, equipped with a digital camera, a mobile phone and a laptop computer, a photojournalist can send a high-quality image in minutes, even seconds after an event occurs. Video phones and portable satellite links increasingly allow for the mobile transmission of images from almost any point on the earth.

There is some concern by news photographers that the profession of photojournalism as it is known today could change to such a degree that it is unrecognizable as image-capturing technology naturally progresses. There is also concern that fewer print publications are commissioning serious photojournalism on timely issues.


In the early days of newspaper journalism the photojournalist’s role was relatively straightforward. Armed with a camera he captured a moment in time – a reality. Back at the newsroom he spent hours in the darkroom mixing chemicals and perfecting his art. The photojournalist emerged with a snippet of reality, ready to show the truth to the public. The development of news photography in the 19th century supported claims by newspapers that they reported events as they happened, objectively.

Today, the ethics of photojournalism goes far beyond the ethics of the newspaper photo. It includes the millions of news-related images that appear on our televisions, cell phones, computer screens and other multi-media devices. We are an image-saturated world.

With these advances photojournalism has become more complicated technologically and ethically. The claim that photographs and images simply “mirror” events is no longer plausible. Moreover, photojournalists face tough ethical decisions on what to shoot, what to use, and if and when images can be altered.

In newsrooms, digital technology has all but eliminated the cumbersome process of film developing. Digital images are easily transmitted, raising the demand for images. With fresh demand comes increasing competition for the best, most dramatic photo.

NB: Photoediting software include; Adobe Photoshop, Corel DRAW, Paint Shop Pro, Xara Xtreme Pro



When creating streaming video, there are two things you need to understand: The video file format and the streaming method.There are many video file formats to choose from when creating video streams. The most common formats are:

·          Windows Media: Audio and video formats for the Internet, developed by Microsoft.

·          Real Media: A codec for streaming digital video and sound over the Internet. RealMedia is comprised of RealVideo, RealAudio, and other file formats created by Real Networks.

·          Quicktime: Apple’s audio and video framework for the Macintosh, introduced in 1991 with the Mac System 7 operating system. QuickTime is the underlying engine in QuickTime Player, the media player that comes with QuickTime, as well as iTunes. There are numerous applications that support QuickTime authoring.

·          MPEG (in particular MPEG-4) : Short for Moving Picture Experts Group, and pronounced m-peg, is a working group of the ISO. The term also refers to the family of digital video compression standards and file formats developed by the group. MPEG generally produces better-quality video than competing formats, such as Video for Windows, Indeo and QuickTime. MPEG files previously on PCs needed hardware decoders (codecs) for MPEG processing. Today, however, PCs can use software-only codecs including products from RealNetworks, QuickTime or Windows Media Player. MPEG algorithms compress data to form small bits that can be easily transmitted and then decompressed. MPEG achieves its high compression rate by storing only the changes from one frame to another, instead of each entire frame. The video information is then encoded using a technique called Discrete Cosine Transform (DCT). MPEG uses a type of lossy compression, since some data is removed. But the diminishment of data is generally imperceptible to the human eye. The major MPEG standards include the following:MPEG-1: The most common implementations of the MPEG-1 standard provide a video resolution of 352-by-240 at 30 frames per second (fps). This produces video quality slightly below the quality of conventional VCR videos. MPEG-2: Offers resolutions of 720×480 and 1280×720 at 60 fps, with full CD-quality audio. This is sufficient for all the major TV standards, including NTSC, and even HDTV. MPEG-2 is used by DVD-ROMs. MPEG-2 can compress a 2 hour video into a few gigabytes. While decompressing an MPEG-2 data stream requires only modest computing power, encoding video in MPEG-2 format requires significantly more processing power. MPEG-3: Was designed for HDTV but was abandoned in place of using MPEG-2 for HDTV. MPEG-4: A graphics and video compression algorithm standard that is based on MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 and Apple QuickTime technology. Wavelet-based MPEG-4 files are smaller than JPEG or QuickTime files, so they are designed to transmit video and images over a narrower bandwidth and can mix video with text, graphics and 2-D and 3-D animation layers. MPEG-4 was standardized in October 1998 in the ISO/IEC document 14496. See MPEG-4. MPEG-7: Formally called the Multimedia Content Description Interface, MPEG-7 provides a tool set for completely describing multimedia content. MPEG-7 is designed to be generic and not targeted to a specific application. MPEG-21: Includes a Rights Expression Language (REL) and a Rights Data Dictionary. Unlike other MPEG standards that describe compression coding methods, MPEG-21 describes a standard that defines the description of content and also processes for accessing, searching, storing and protecting the copyrights of content. See MPEG-21.

·          Adobe Flash: Adobe Flash – previously called Shockwave Flash and Macromedia Flash – is a set of multimedia technologies developed and distributed by Adobe Systems and earlier by Macromedia.

There are two ways to view media on the internet (such as video, audio, animations, etc): Downloading and streaming.


When you download a file the entire file is saved on your computer (usually in a temporary folder), which you then open and view. This has some advantages (such as quicker access to different parts of the file) but has the big disadvantage of having to wait for the whole file to download before any of it can be viewed. If the file is quite small this may not be too much of an inconvenience, but for large files and long presentations it can be very off-putting.

The easiest way to provide downloadable video files is to use a simple hyperlink to the file. A slightly more advanced method is to embed the file in a web page using special HTML code.

Delivering video files this way is known as HTTP streaming or HTTP delivery. HTTP means Hyper Text Transfer Protocol, and is the same protocol used to deliver web pages. For this reason it is easy to set up and use on almost any website, without requiring additional software or special hosting plans.

Note: This is not technically “true” video streaming — the best it can do is a passable imitation.


Streaming media works a bit differently — the end user can start watching the file almost as soon as it begins downloading. In effect, the file is sent to the user in a (more or less) constant stream, and the user watches it as it arrives. The obvious advantage with this method is that no waiting is involved. Streaming media has additional advantages such as being able to broadcast live events (sometimes referred to as a webcast or netcast).

True streaming video must be delivered from a specialized streaming server.

Progressive Downloading

There is also a hybrid method known as progressive download. In this method the video clip is downloaded but begins playing as soon as a portion of the file has been received. This simulates true streaming, but doesn’t have all the advantages.

Which Method to Use?

The method you choose will depend on your situation, but most people will opt for HTTP streaming (download or progressive download). This is the easiest and cheapest way to get started. If necessary you can upgrade to a streaming server later.

Still, you will want to understand both options so the next two pages of this tutorial look at each one in a bit more detail. After that we’ll talk about how to create the actual video files.

Streaming Video Servers

A streaming media or streaming video server is a specialized application which runs on an Internet server. This is often referred to as “true streaming”, since other methods only simulate streaming. True streaming has advantages such as:the ability to handle much larger traffic loads, the ability to detect users’ connection speeds and supply appropriate files automatically and the ability to broadcast live events.

There are two ways to have access to a streaming server: One, operate you own server (by purchasing or leasing)  and two, sign up for a hosted streaming plan with an ISP (Internet Service Provider).

Operate your own server

Note: This is a serious step and is well beyond the needs of most websites.

To run your own streaming server, you can either purchase a standalone server machine or purchase a streaming server software package and install it on an existing web server. Streaming software is available for all common server platforms such as Linux, Windows, etc.

Some examples of streaming media software:

·                          Helix Universal Server from RealNetworks. This server supports a variety of formats, including RealMedia, Windows Media, Quicktime and MPEG-4.

·                          Apple Quicktime Streaming Server, supporting a few formats including MPEG-4 and 3GPP.

·                          Macromedia Communication Server, specializing in Flash-based video and interactive multimedia.

Sign up for a hosted streaming plan

In much the same way that you sign up for a website hosting plan, you can get yourself a hosting plan which specializes in streaming media. This is a far more realistic option for most people.

Some examples of hosted streaming media plans:

·                          RealNetworks Managed Application Services (MAS)

·                          Apple Quicktime Streaming Services

·                          Macromedia Communication Server Hosts

Be warned: True video streaming in any form can be an expensive business. Unless you really have a need for it, you are probably better off starting with basic HTTP streaming…

HTTP Streaming Video

This is the simplest and cheapest way to stream video from a website. Small to medium-sized websites are more likely to use this method than the more expensive streaming servers.

For this method you don’t need any special type of website or host — just a host server which recognises common video file types (most standard hosting accounts do this). You also need to know how to upload files and how to create hyperlinks (see our website tutorials for more info).

There are some limitations to bear in mind regarding HTTP streaming:

·                          HTTP streaming is a good option for websites with modest traffic, i.e. less than about a dozen people viewing at the same time. For heavier traffic a more serious streaming solution should be considered.

·                          You can’t stream live video, since the HTTP method only works with complete files stored on the server.

·                          You can’t automatically detect the end user’s connection speed using HTTP. If you want to create different versions for different speeds, you need to create a separate file for each speed.

·                          HTTP streaming is not as efficient as other methods and will incur a heavier server load.

These things won’t bother most website producers — it’s normally only when you get into heavy traffic that you should be worried about them.

To Create HTTP Streaming Video

1.                         Create a video file in a common streaming media format

2.                         Upload the file to your web server

3.                         Make a simple hyperlink to the video file, or use special HTML tags to embed the video in a web page.

That’s essentially all there is to it. When a user clicks the hyperlink, their media player opens and begins streaming the video file. If the file is embedded, it plays right there on the page.

Now let’s look at how to create the necessary video files…


Before putting video on theWorld Wide Web, there are 3 considerations:

1. How big (measured in pixels) do you want the video to be?:

2. What format do you wish to display your video?:

  • two main formats are mpeg and Quicktime
  • it is often a good idea to put both formats on the Web
  • Quicktime and mpeg will play on all platforms but ease of use varies on each platform. It is best to give the end user the option to choose

3. How do you want the end user to view your movie?

  • the movie can be embedded within the web page itself (the movie can be played within a web page)
  • the movie can spawn an application to play the movie (a picture orhypertext link would need to be clicked by the end user to download the movie and spawn an external application to play it)
  • the movie can be played by downloading the movie in it’s entirety before viewing or the movie can be streamed (play as it is being downloaded)

Putting video on the web requires 3 steps:

1. Digitizing the video fromVHS or S-VHS source,fromHi-8 or 8mm source or  auxiliary source
2. Editing the video using Premiere 4.2.1
3. Putting the video on the Web







1. Accuracy of Web Documents

  • Who wrote the page and can you contact him or her?
  • What is the purpose of the document and why was it produced?
  • Is this person qualified to write this document?


·          Make sure author provides e-mail or a contact address/phone number.

·          Know the distinction between author and Webmaster.

2. Authority of Web Documents

  • Who published the document and is it separate from the “Webmaster?”
  • Check the domain of the document, what institution publishes this document?
  • Does the publisher list his or her qualifications?
  • Access of document on the web: How did find the author’s document on the web. If you linked to this document from a source with well-established authority, that in itself is a recommendation.
  • Author’s assessment by peers: What do others (especially people you recognize as authorities) have to say about this author? You can use a search engine to identify if the author is cited by other authoritative authors. What other documents or websites link to the author’s document?
  • Author’s background and credentials: Can you determine the author’s background and credentials from the web page or by following a link from the page? If not, you should be extremely skeptical. Make a background check for author in terms of the following: relevant academic qualifications, work experience and publication history of the author.
  • Author’s institutional affiliation: Is the author affiliated with a particular institution? When looking for scholarly items, you would expect the author to be affiliated with some institution (research, university etc.).
  • Availability of author’s contact information: Is information provided to enable you to contact the author or responsible organization. Be suscipicious of any web page that does not provide contact information that can be used to investigate its credibility.
  • Easy of identifying the website/web page author: Is the author or responsible group for the website readily identifiable? Credible sources assume accountability for what they have published.
  • Presence of bibliographic citations used in compiling the document: Is there a bibliography, does it include authors you have identified elsewhere as authorities in the field?


3. Objectivity of Web Documents

  • What goals/objectives does this page meet?
  • How detailed is the information?
  • What opinions (if any) are expressed by the author?


  • Determine if page is a mask for advertising; if so information might be biased.
  • View any Web page as you would an infommercial on television. Ask yourself why was this written and for whom?

4. Currency of Web Documents

  • When was it produced?
  • When was it updated’
  • How up-to-date are the links (if any)?


  • How many dead links are on the page?
  • Are the links current or updated regularly?
  • Is the information on the page outdated?

5. Coverage of the Web Documents

  • Are the links (if any) evaluated and do they complement the documents’ theme?
  • Is it all images or a balance of text and images?
  • Is the information presented cited correctly?


  • If page requires special software to view the information, how much are you missing if you don’t have the software?
  • Is it free or is there a fee, to obtain the information?
  • Is there an option for text only, or frames, or a suggested browser for better viewing?

Source:  The lecturer and Kapoun, Jim. “Teaching undergrads WEB evaluation: A guide for library instruction.” C&RL News (July/August 1998): 522-523.



1. What can the URL tell you?

Questions to ask:

What are the implications?

Is it somebody’s personal page?

  • Read the URL carefully:
    • Look for a personal name (e.g., jbarker or barker) following a tilde ( ~ ), a percent sign ( % ), or or the words “users,” “members,” or “people.”
    • Is the server a commercial ISP or other provider of web page hosting (like aol.com or geocities.com)

Personal pages are not necessarily “bad,” but you need to investigate the author carefully.
For personal pages, there is no publisher or domain owner vouching for the information in the page.

What type of domain does it come from ?
(educational, nonprofit, commercial, government, etc.)

  • Is the domain extension appropriate for the content?
    • Government sites: look for .gov, .mil
    • Educational sites: look for .edu
    • Nonprofit organizations: look for .org (though this is no longer restricted to nonprofits)
  • Many country codes, such as .us, .uk. and .de, are no longer tightly controlled and may be misused. Look at the country code, but also use the techniques in sections 2 and 4 below to see who published the web page.

Look for appropriateness. What kind of information source do you think is most reliable for your topic?

Is it published by an entity that makes sense?
Who “published” the page?

  • In general, the publisher is the agency or person operating the “server” computer from which the document is issued.
    • The server is usually named in first portion of the URL (between http:// and the first /)
  • Have you heard of this entity before?
  • Does it correspond the name of the site? Should it?
You can rely more on information that is published by the source:

  • Look for New York Times news from http://www.nytimes.com
  • Look for health information from any of the agencies of the National Institute of Health on sites with nih somewhere in the domain name.


2. Scan the perimeter of the page, looking for answers to these questions:

Questions to ask:

What are the implications?

Who wrote the page?

  • Look for the name of the author, or the name of the organization, institution, agency, or whatever who is responsible for the page
    • An e-mail contact is not enough
  • If there is no personal author, look for an agency or organization that claims responsibility for the page.
    • If you cannot find this, locate the publisher by truncating back the URL (see technique above). Does this publisher claim responsibility for the content? Does it explain why the page exists in any way?

Web pages are all created with a purpose in mind by some person or agency or entity. They do not simply “grow” on the web like mildew grows in moist corners.

You are looking for someone who claims accountability and responsibility for the content.

An e-mail address with no additional information about the author is not sufficient for assessing the author’s credentials.

If this is all you have, try emailing the author and asking politely for more information about him/her.

Is the page dated? Is it current enough?

  • Is it “stale” or “dusty” information on a time-sensitive or evolving topic?
  • CAUTION: Undated factual or statistical information is no better than anonymous information. Don’t use it.

How recent the date needs to be depends on your needs.

For some topics you want current information.

For others, you want information put on the web near the time it became known.

In some cases, the importance of the date is to tell you whether the page author is still maintaining an interest in the page, or has abandoned it.

What are the author’s credentials on this subject?

  • Does the purported background or education look like someone who is qualified to write on this topic?
  • Might the page be by a hobbyist, self-proclaimed expert, or enthusiast?
    • Is the page merely an opinion? Is there any reason you should believe its content more than any other page?
    • Is the page a rant, an extreme view, possibly distorted or exaggerated?
  • If you cannot find strong, relevant credentials, look very closely at documentation of sources (next section).

Anyone can put anything on the web for pennies in just a few minutes. Your task is to distinguish between the reliable and questionable.

Many web pages are opinion pieces offered in a vast public forum.

You should hold the author to the same degree of credentials, authority, and documentation that you would expect from something published in a reputable print resource (book, journal article, good newspaper).

3. Look for indicators of quality information:

Questions to ask:

What are the implications?

Are sources documented with footnotes or links?

  • Where did the author get the information?
    • As in published scholarly/academic journals and books, you should expect documentation.
  • If there are links to other pages as sources, are they to reliable sources?
  • Do the links work?

In scholarly/research work, the credibility of most writings is proven through footnote documentation or other means of revealing the sources of information. Saying what you believe without documentation is not much better than just expressing an opinion or a point of view. What credibility does your research need?

An exception can be journalism from highly reputable newspapers. But these are not scholarly. Check with your instructor before using this type of material.

Links that don’t work or are to other weak or fringe pages do not help strengthen the credibility of your research.

If reproduced information (from another source), is it complete, not altered, not fake or forged?

  • Is it retyped? If so, it could easily be altered.
  • Is it reproduced from another publication?
    • Are permissions to reproduce and copyright information provided?
    • Is there a reason there are not links to the original source if it is online (instead of reproducing it)?

You may have to find the original to be sure a copy of something is not altered and is complete.

Look at the URL: is it from the original source?

If you find a legitimate article from a reputable journal or other publication, it should be accompanied by the copyright statement and/or permission to reprint. If it is not, be suspicious.

Try to find the source. If the URL of the document is not to the original source, it is likely that it is illegally reproduced, and the text could be altered, even with the copyright information present.

Are there links to other resources on the topic?

  • Are the links well chosen, well organized, and/or evaluated/annotated?
  • Do the links work?
  • Do the links represent other viewpoints?
  • Do the links (or absence of other viewpoints) indicate a bias?

Many well developed pages offer links to other pages on the same topic that they consider worthwhile. They are inviting you to compare their information with other pages.

Links that offer opposing viewpoints as well as their own are more likely to be balanced and unbiased than pages that offer only one view. Anything not said that could be said? And perhaps would be said if all points of view were represented?

Always look for bias.

Especially when you agree with something, check for bias.

4. What do others say?

Questions to ask:

What are the implications?

Who links to the page?

  • Are there many links?
  • What kinds of sites link to it?
  • What do they say?

Sometimes a page is linked to only by other parts of its own site (not much of a recommendation).

Sometimes a page is linked to by its fan club, and by detractors. Read both points of view.

Is the page listed in one or more reputable directories or pages?

Good directories include a tiny fraction of the web, and inclusion in a directory is therefore noteworthy.

But read what the directory says! It may not be 100% positive.

What do others say about the author or responsible authoring body?

“Googling” someone can be revealing. Be sure to consider the source. If the viewpoint is radical or controversial, expect to find detractors.

Also see which blogs refer to the site, and what they say about it. Google Blog Search is a good way to do this; search on the site’s name, author, or URL.

5. Does it all add up?

Questions to ask:

So what? What are the implications?

Why was the page put on the web?

  • Inform, give facts, give data?
  • Explain, persuade?
  • Sell, entice?
  • Share?
  • Disclose?

These are some of the reasons to think of. The web is a public place, open to all. You need to be aware of the entire range of human possibilities of intentions behind web pages.

Might it be ironic? Satire or parody?

  • Think about the “tone” of the page.
  • Humorous? Parody? Exaggerated? Overblown arguments?
  • Outrageous photographs or juxtaposition of unlikely images?
  • Arguing a viewpoint with examples that suggest that what is argued is ultimately not possible.

It is easy to be fooled, and this can make you look foolish in turn.

Is this as credible and useful as the resources (books, journal articles, etc.) available in print or online through the library?

  • Are you being completely fair? Too harsh? Totally objective? Requiring the same degree of “proof” you would from a print publication?
  • Is the site good for some things and not for others?
  • Are your hopes biasing your interpretation?

What is your requirement (or your instructor’s requirement) for the quality of reliability of your information?

In general, published information is considered more reliable than what is on the web. But many, many reputable agencies and publishers make great stuff available by “publishing” it on the web. This applies to most governments, most institutions and societies, many publishing houses and news sources.

But take the time to check it out.

Source:UC Berkeley -Teaching library internet workshops 


The World Wide Web can be a great place to accomplish research on many topics. But putting documents or pages on the web is easy, cheap or free, unregulated, and unmonitored (at least in the USA). There is a famous Steiner cartoon published in the New Yorker (July 5, 1993) with two dogs sitting before a terminal looking at a computer screen; one says to the other “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” The great wealth that the Internet has brought to so much of society is the ability for people to express themselves, find one another, exchange ideas, discover possible peers worldwide they never would have otherwise met, and, through hypertext links in web pages, suggest so many other people’s ideas and personalities to anyone who comes and clicks. There are some real “dogs” out there, but there’s also great treasure.

Therein lies the rationale for evaluating carefully whatever you find on the Web. The burden is on you – the reader – to establish the validity, authorship, timeliness, and integrity of what you find. Documents can easily be copied and falsified or copied with omissions and errors — intentional or accidental. In the general World Wide Web there are no editors (unlike most print publications) to proofread and “send it back” or “reject it” until it meets the standards of a publishing house’s reputation. Most pages found in general search engines for the web are self-published or published by businesses small and large with motives to get you to buy something or believe a point of view. Even within university and library web sites, there can be many pages that the institution does not try to oversee. The web needs to be free like that!! And you, if you want to use it for serious research, need to cultivate the habit of healthy skepticism, of questioning everything you find with critical thinking.


These six criteria deal specifically with the content of Web sites rather than the graphics or site design. The design features may contribute to the value of a site or they may be just for show.


Authority reveals that the person, institution or agency responsible for a site has the qualifications and knowledge to do so.

How to evaluate a web site for authority? Consider the following questions:

  • Is it clear who developed the site?
  • Has the author clearly provided all contact information including: e-mail address, snail mail address, phone number, and fax number?
  • Has the author clearly stated their qualifications, credentials, or provided some personal background information, that gives them the authority to present the information on the site?
  • Is the site supported by an organization or a commercial body?


The author should be clear about the purpose of the information presented in the site. Some sites are meant to inform, persuade, state an opinion, entertain, or parody something or someone.

How to evaluate a web site for purpose? Consider the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of the site and does the content support it?
  • Is the information geared toward a specific audience (students, scholars, general reader)?
  • Is the site well organized and focussed?
  • Are the links appropriate for the site?
  • Are the links evaluated at all?
  • The domain of the site may also indicate its purpose. The URL can provide useful information about the type of site.


It is often difficult to assess the extent of coverage since the depth in a site, through the use of links, can be infinite. However, one author may claim to present comprehensive coverage of a topic while another may cover just one aspect of a topic.

How to evaluate a web site for coverage? Consider the following questions:

  • Does the site claim to be either selective or comprehensive?
  • Are the topics explored in depth?
  • How valuable is the web site compared to others on the same topic?
  • Is the site filled with links to other sites rather than its own content and information?
  • Is the site static in that it provides information with no relevant outside links?


The currency of the site refers to: 1) how current the information presented is, and 2) how often the site is updated or maintained. It is important to know when a site was created, when it was last updated, and if all of the links are current.

How to evaluate a web site for currency? Consider the following questions:

  • Is the following information clearly provided?

1) date the information was first written
2) date the information was placed on the web
3) date the information was last revised

  • Are the links up-to-date? All of the links provided should be reliable. Dead links or references to sites that have moved are not useful.
  • Is the information provided so trend related that its usefulness is limited to a certain time period?
  • Has the site been under construction for some time?


The objectivity of the site should be clear. Beware of sites that contain a certain bias. Objective sites will present information with a minimum of bias, without the intention to persuade.

How to evaluate a web site for objectivity? Consider the following questions:

  • Is the information presented with a particular bias?
  • To what extent, if any, does the information try to sway the audience?
  • Does the site contain advertising that may be a conflict of interest with the content?
  • Is the site trying to explain, inform, persuade, or sell something?


There are few standards available on the web to verify the accuracy of information. It is the responsibility of the reader to beware of the information presented. Be sure to differentiate fact from opinion.

How to evaluate a web site for accuracy? Consider the following questions:

  • How reliable is the information? If the author is affiliated with a known institution, this could be a clue.
  • If statistics and other factual information are presented, are proper references given for the origin of the information?
  • From the reading you have already done on the subject does the information on the site seem accurate?
  • Is the information provided comparable to other sites on the same topic?
  • Does the text follow basic rules of grammar, spelling and composition?
  • Is a bibliography or reference list included?


Design and Presentation

Web site’s design and presentation are professional, logical and provide multiple ways to access or view information

  • Is the information presented in a logical manner?
  • Is the site easy to navigate?
  • Do the graphics serve a purpose?
  • If the web site is extensive, does it offer search capability?

Does the web site have a text-only option?

Allina Library Services asks the following questions when judging quality in a web site.

1. Content

  • What is the basic purpose of the site ?
  • Is the intent primarily to educate, advertise, advocate, etc.?
  • Does the site provide general coverage on a topic or detailed coverage?
  • Are there any glaring inaccuracies in the information on the site?
  • Does the information appear to be credible and objective?
  • Can the source of the information be verified? Is it clearly attributed to someone or some group?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • What is the level of presentation?
  • Are the links to other sites appropriate and carefully chosen?

2. Authority/Source

  • Who is the producer, developer, and/or creator of the site?
  • Who is the sponsor (i.e., drug company, advocacy group, etc.)? This is often NOT the same as the creator of the web site.
  • What can you determine about the expertise and/or authority of the source of the information?
  • Does the information appear to have a bias or slant to its orientation?
  • Is there clear contact information on the author(s) of the information, as well as the web developer? Is there a feedback button?

3. Date/Timeliness

  • What is the date of the production of the web site? When was it last modified?
  • Does the information itself on the web site appear to be current? Are dates indicated?
  • Does the site appear to be maintained regularly?


4. Organization/Design

  • Is there a logical organization to the site?
  • Can it be easily navigated?
  • Is there a search capability at a top level?
  • Is the site interactive?
  • Are icons representational of their functions?
  • Is the graphic design and layout appropriate and attractive for the content?
  • Is the load time in your browser reasonable?

5. Accessibility

  • Is the site routinely available?
  • Does the web address change frequently?




Additional Comments



Make it easy to verify the accuracy of the information on your site.

You can build web site credibility by providing third-party support (citations, references, source material) for information you present, especially if you link to this evidence. Even if people don’t follow these links, you’ve shown confidence in your material.



Show that there’s a real organization behind your site.

Showing that your web site is for a legitimate organization will boost the site’s credibility. The easiest way to do this is by listing a physical address. Other features can also help, such as posting a photo of your offices or listing a membership with the chamber of commerce.



Highlight the expertise in your organization and in the content and services you provide.

Do you have experts on your team? Are your contributors or service providers authorities? Be sure to give their credentials. Are you affiliated with a respected organization? Make that clear. Conversely, don’t link to outside sites that are not credible. Your site becomes less credible by association.



Show that honest and trustworthy people stand behind your site.

The first part of this guideline is to show there are real people behind the site and in the organization. Next, find a way to convey their trustworthiness through images or text. For example, some sites post employee bios that tell about family or hobbies.



Make it easy to contact you.

A simple way to boost your site’s credibility is by making your contact information clear: phone number, physical address, and email address.



Design your site so it looks professional (or is appropriate for your purpose).

We find that people quickly evaluate a site by visual design alone. When designing your site, pay attention to layout, typography, images, consistency issues, and more. Of course, not all sites gain credibility by looking like IBM.com. The visual design should match the site’s purpose.



Make your site easy to use — and useful.

We’re squeezing two guidelines into one here. Our research shows that sites win credibility points by being both easy to use and useful. Some site operators forget about users when they cater to their own company’s ego or try to show the dazzling things they can do with web technology.




Update your site’s content often (at least show it’s been reviewed recently).

People assign more credibility to sites that show they have been recently updated or reviewed.



Use restraint with any promotional content (e.g., ads, offers).

If possible, avoid having ads on your site. If you must have ads, clearly distinguish the sponsored content from your own. Avoid pop-up ads, unless you don’t mind annoying users and losing credibility. As for writing style, try to be clear, direct, and sincere.



Avoid errors of all types, no matter how small they seem.

Typographical errors and broken links hurt a site’s credibility more than most people imagine. It’s also important to keep your site up and running.




Fogg, B.J. (May 2002). “Stanford Guidelines for Web Credibility.” A Research Summary from the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab. Stanford University. http://www.webcredibility.org/guidelines






Journalism ethics and standards comprise principles of ethics and of good practice as applicable to the specific challenges faced by professional journalists.Historically and currently, this subset of media ethics is widely known to journalists as their professional “code of ethics” or the “canons of journalism.” The basic codes and canons commonly appear in statements drafted by both professional journalism associations and individual print, broadcast, and online news organizations.


Primary issues in reporting for online journalism

Among the traits necessary for journalism are the following:

Accuracy: In traditional journalism, accuracy means getting the facts straight. In online journalism, this trait goes a notch higher because the person reading, viewing and using the news and information can add to the media product. Standards for accurate reporting have gone higher and therefore journalists need to be more accurate than before.

Attribution: Reporters make the readers, viewers and listeners know the source of news. In an online news environment, attribution is more significant than ever before because the web is filled with sites purporting to have authoritative information. Journalists must evaluate such sources before using them.

Multiple sourcing: It is closely related to attribution. A good story need more sources including people, documentation and data. In an online word, sources can be piled on with a simple link. But this linkage presents even more trouble to the journalist. But a link can make a reader never to come back to your story. A solution to this problem is to put all links that matter at the end of the story on a separate source page, allowing the audience to see how the journalist used the multiple sources. Alternatively,is to link to what is called a pop-up window.

Fairness: In traditional journalism, journalists have been limited by time and space constraints.They believe their audience understand that stories are thus incomplete, but fair. In OJ the limits are less confining. With hyperlinks the journalist can create a bottomless well of facts, opinions, vantage points. Would it  fair for a story on children rape be linked to a pedophile website..                           

Thoroughness: What multiple sourcing is to attribution , thorougness is to fairness; one cannot be complete without the other. On the web the challenges of providing a truly thorough story are even greater. The journalists still face the challenge of time and on the amount of space available on the server’s hard drive, as well as limits to what editors and producers and publishers will allow. It  is imperative for the journalist to err on the side of too much, rather than just enough. Always visit the links you provide in a story for accuracy.

Freshness: News like bread is served best when fresh and it quickly goes stale. OJ provides the best chance for freshness because of the characteristic of immediacy. There is also talk on the pros and cons of breaking a story online before going online. Does that take  the value of the  newspapers or does it take away its demand.

Originality: Shovelware is a common tem in OJ. It is essential that online journalists engage in originality instead of shovelware. After all, its only those websites that present original information that have high traffic of access.

Compassion: Emotions not easily captured on the web due to low download times.

Indepedence: Without fear without favour. OJ should not use the power of multimedia on the web to tip the story to one side or the other.

Relevancy:Stories must be interesting or important or  preferably both. The web has too much for the journalist to select what is relevant and this poses time challenges. Some basic rules for gathering information online are as follows:

Never take for granted the authenticity or quality of information on the web.Contact the people responsible for the site and check it.

Spend a serious amount of time getting familiar with some of the basic information available online. Bookmark and organize your basic sites and have them ready to go  to in a pinch.

Stay  up to date on what is new and what is gone on the web. Invest sometime on the web to achieve this.

Understand fully that there are limits on what can be done online and sometimes better and faster ways of getting information.


No matter what the platform, the primary mission of journalism is to provide information that gives meaning and context to the events that shape our lives, our communities, our world. In doing so, we hold powerful interests accountable and remain true to our mission of public service through fair and accurate reporting.

But in an age in which new forms of communication are emerging, we must adapt and grow to meet this challenge if we are to remain relevant. Our journalistic mission carries with it the responsibility to reach audiences in formats that extend beyond the printed word. We must capitalize on emerging technologies to provide an even deeper news experience through multimedia and interactivity. We must embrace the fact that the public wants to choose the ways in which they are informed and to sculpt the conversations of the day. By failing to accept this new reality, we run the risk of losing our credibility and vital role in creating an informed populace.

Professional journalism requires resources to execute its mission, meaning that the enterprise has to make money to sustain itself. As the nature of journalism is changing, so too are the economic models that finance the work. As a result, the old conflicts between news and advertising have been magnified and new ones created. That requires more conversations between news and advertising about whether and how new boundaries should be created and how they should be communicated to the audience and advertisers.


  • Editorial integrity is crucial in maintaining the trust of the public and the credibility of the brand.
  • The editorial and business sides of the operation need to communicate openly about how best to capitalize on the growing
    economic opportunities online.
  • Market research and metrics are important tools to help guide content decisions but shouldn’t be the only criteria. There must be a balance between revenue-driven content and public service work.
  • The consumer’s experience is paramount. Advertising models and sponsorships should be evaluated closely to determine their impact on consumer experience. The consumer should be clear about content produced by editorial or commercial interests. Advertising and sponsorships should be labeled.


·          How do you balance content certain to drive traffic to your site against content that serves the public interest? Where does public-service journalism fit in?

Building audience and serving the public interest are both essential to relevant journalism. News and advertising each should establish standards and communicate those standards to each other.

·          How do you resolve conflict and disputes between news and advertising?

Every organization should have a defined process for decision-making, with the resolution based upon the principles above.

·          How should metrics and market research influence news judgment?

Staff should be trained in how to interpret metrics and traffic measurements as they apply to the whole product and the new discipline. Statistics can be misleading. Data analysis requires training and expertise. Leaders have a responsibility to interpret metrics and apply them in the context of the journalistic mission.

·          How do journalists stay abreast of the changes in emerging technologies and consumer habits?

Newsrooms must invest in training so staff has the skills to meet the needs of the audience. We must use technology in a meaningful way — in a way that is truly valuable to stakeholders. We must be flexible in the way we produce and present content for new patterns of consumption.



 In a world with multiple sources of information, much of it indistinguishable one from another, credibility is our most precious asset. Credibility is earned over time by continually delivering on promises of accuracy, transparency and fairness. We consider listening and participating essential tools to achieve credibility. We intend this document to be useful to anyone publishing — or consuming — information in any medium.


  • How do we handle corrections?
  • How do we handle links?
  • How do we make sure we provide adequate context, including the presentation of conflicting views?
  • How do we decide when to edit and when not to? Before publishing, afterwards, never?
  • How much do readers and viewers care about the values of the people producing the content?
  • What value do anonymity and pseudonyms have in emerging media?
  • What standards should be applied to multimedia content? What levels of authentication should be required before posting raw video? To what extent should professional journalistic production standards be applied to multimedia?

Principles & Values

We commit to presenting as accurate and as complete a picture of our world as possible. This means taking full advantage of emerging media and technology. In order to do that, we will:

  • Use multimedia to show dimensions of our world that words alone cannot convey.
  • Be clear about the nature of the content presented, its sourcing and the extent of verification.
  • Correct what we get wrong as promptly and as clearly as possible. Establish systems to enable readers to alert us to mistakes and hold us accountable.
  • Explain our decision making in terms of our process and our relationships, both institutional and personal.
  • Maintain open channels of communication with our audience.


We will never knowingly publish or air falsehoods.

The quality of publishing decisions — from how to report a story, to what elements to include, to issues of linking — can be significantly improved by responding to a set of questions. These questions include:

  • What purpose will be served?
  • What harm might be caused?
  • How much of this content is verified?
  • How reliable and comprehensive are the sources?
  • Are we giving proper context?

Decisions about how much editing should be applied to various content should be guided by such considerations as:

  • The nature and context of the content
  • The author(s) of the content (staff, users, etc.)
  • The editors’ level of trust in the author(s)

When we discover that we’ve distributed an error, we will consider the following:

  • What has been the likely impact of the error and how can we most effectively address that?
  • How appropriate is it to retain a record of the error for readers who return to the story or bloggers who have linked to it in its original form?
  • What publishing conventions might work best (for example: strikethroughs, appended corrections, corrective posts by readers, an editor’s note)?

We will seek to display as much transparency as possible in regard to our processes and our relationships, both institutional and personal. Before publishing, we will consider a series of questions regarding transparency:

  • What might the consumer want to know?
  • What publishing conventions might address these questions (for example, online personal pages for journalists revealing as much about themselves as they are willing to share, links to previously published or aired work, etc.)?
  • How much detail might be provided about the sources pursued in the course of reporting and dimensions of the story still unknown?
  • How might the audience be enlisted to fill in some of the story’s gaps?
  • How might such devices as transparency buttons be employed as links to stories behind the story that explain controversial or difficult decisions and provide details that readers might find relevant.

That said, here are some basic qualities that any good online writer ought to demonstrate. Online Journalism Review goes on to list 5 core ethical principles for online journalism:

·          No plagiarism

By now, you’ve likely discovered that writing is hard work. You certainly don’t want someone else swiping your effort and presenting it as his or her own.So don’t steal others’ work. Such theft is plagiarism. It includes not just cutting and pasting whole articles, but copying photos, graphics, video and even large text excerpts from others and putting them on your web page as well. If you want to reference something on another website, link it instead.If you are concerned that the page you’re linking to will disappear, give your readers the name of the publication that published the page, its date of publication and a short summary of its content. Just like news reporters used to reference other content before the Web. (“In a Sept. 20 report, the Wall Street Journal reported….”). When in doubt, do both. There’s no such thing as too much supporting information.

·          Disclose, disclose, disclose

Tell your readers how you got your information, and what factors influenced your decision to publish it. If you have a personal or professional connection to people or groups you’re writing about, describe it. Your readers deserve to know what has influenced the way you reported or wrote a story. Don’t hide whom you work for, or where the money to support your site comes from. If your site runs advertising, label the ads as such. Let readers know if you are making money off links elsewhere on your site, as well.

·          No gifts or money for coverage

One common way journalists avoid conflicts of interest is by refusing gifts or money from sources they cover. Writers who accept gifts, payments or honoraria from the people or groups they cover open themselves up to charges that their work is a paid advertisement for those sources. Or, at the very least, that those writers are too “close” to these sources to cover them honestly. You can avoid controversy by politely declining such offers.

Most major news organizations do allow their writers to accept free admission to events for the purpose of writing a feature or review. But most of those organizations bar their writers from “junkets,” where groups provide free travel and hotel rooms in addition to attendance at their event.

Many companies also send items such as books and DVDs to writers who review them. Items of significant value ought to be returned after the review. Less expensive items, such as books, can be donated to a local school or charity.

If you are writing about your employer, obviously you are accepting money from it. But let your readers know that. Identify yourself as an employee, even if you are writing anonymously, so people know enough about your background that they can make their own judgment about your credibility.

As writers should not accept money from sources, they also should not ask for it. If your site runs ads, do not solicit people or groups you cover to buy ads or sponsorships on your site. Find someone else handle your ad sales.

·          Check it out, then tell the truth

Just because someone else said it, this statement does not make it true. Reward your readers with accurate information that stands up to scrutiny from other writers. Check out your information before you print it.

Find facts, not just others’ opinions, to support your comments. Start with sites such as our guide to reporting to learn how to find real data, not someone else’s spin. Make sure that what you are writing isn’t merely repeating some urban myth, either.

If you are writing about someone else, call or e-mail them for a comment before you publish. If your subject has a blog, link to it. That link will notify the subject that you’ve written about them, and will allow your readers to click-through and read the subject’s side of the story.

If you want to write satire or spoofs, fine. But make sure your audience knows that what you are writing is not literal truth. Tricking readers won’t help you develop the respect, credibility or loyal audience that truthful writers enjoy and rely upon.

Be honest

In summary, be honest with your readers and transparent about your work. If people wonder for a moment about your honesty or your motives, you’ve lost credibility with them. Don’t let them do that. Answer those questions even before readers ask.


The recent shift towards online journalism, however, has left some gaps and grey areas in journalistic ethics. The Journalists Code of Ethics and other ethical guidelines are yet to be updated to reflect modern technology and the changes it has brought to the world of journalism. A number of existing ethical dilemmas have been exacerbated by the online environment of internet journalism.


The benefit of immediacy can give rise to some serious ethical issues. The desire to publish brand new information and the ease of which it can be altered may cause information to be made accessible before it is verified. This undermines the journalistic principle of accuracy and can lead to misinformation.


One dilemma is the question of speed versus accuracy. In all forms of journalism there is conflict between choosing to publish immediate information or waiting to verify facts and ensuring accuracy. This is exacerbated by the online environment, as one of the major features of this medium is its immediacy. News updates are often posted as they happen which allows early access to information but which can risk the accuracy of the content.


Another issue that comes up is that while one of the major advantages to online journalism is the speed with which news can be pumped out to the public the rate of errors increases. When information is flowing through so fast, and stories are being pounded out in a hurry, carelessness and oversight can come into play. It has been said that in the need for speed, steps can be missed, and copy editing can go down the tubes. This leads to distrust and a loss of credibility from the public.

Another ethical consideration in online journalism is the way information and pictures can be archived indefinitely and accessed from around the globe. This means that any mistakes and ethical breaches would be more damaging and widespread. Incorrect information may be archived and the misinformation passed on to web-users accessing the archives.

Advertising pressure is another ethical issue for internet publications. This is significant as independence is a critical component of journalistic ethics. In print and broadcast media it is easier to distinguish advertisements and editorials from news than it is online.This is further exacerbated in online news and internet users are resistant to paying for online information, forcing online news organisations to gain their entire revenue from sources like advertising.  SHOULD THERE BE LINKS TO ADVERTISERS IN NEWS STORIES? Ads in stories must be clearly defined as ads and must be distinct from news, but those ads will have to serve as a link or the advertiser will not participate. There is the pressure of click-through rate where advertisers pay for ads depending on the people of people who click on it, taking the audience away from the newsites. Worse off, advertisers want OJs to use the best multimedia technology to design attract audience to their newsites and this technology is time consuming to build, slow to dowload and distracting when it appears.

The shift to online journalism has also created new medium-specific ethical dilemmas. Hyperlinks, for example, are a valuable tool in online journalism but can lead to potential problems, as the web pages they link to may be inaccurate, offensive or inappropriate. To deal with this ethically, the content and quality of linked websites should be monitored and internet users should be warned that the pages they visit are not part of the news website.

Another potential problem is the dilemma of breaking a news story immediately on the internet and therefore alerting rival news outlets, or waiting to break the news in another medium and have an exclusive.

Should newsites accept expensive new technology in return for favourable  ad placement? NO.

Should news sites allow company logos in news stories? (NO, these are ads)



NB: Academics suggest retaining the one code of ethics but updating it regularly to reflect   

       ethical issues in the growing medium of online.


Information overload and confusion

The immense size of cyberspace and the extent of information available may intimidate audiences and cause information overload. Furthermore, it may be difficult for audiences to distinguish between credible news websites and other non-official news websites. This can lead to confusion and misinformation.


The concern that an increase in online niche publications could create social divisions.


Issues of surveillance, censorship and privacy



Should journalists be allowed to keep personal blogs?

Yes, but journalists who work for journalistic organizations should acknowledge that role. They should also recognize their responsibility to the organization, and review the plans for the blog with an editor, so that any potential conflicts can be discussed. It’s always best to operate on the premise of “no surprises” for your editor or your organization — or your readers.

Is it ever appropriate for a reporter to write anonymously on someone else’s blog or site? Is it appropriate for a reporter operate a blog under an alias?

No. Professional journalists should not write or comment on other blogs anonymously or run an anonymous blog. Reporters are expected to own responsibility for their work, and commenting or blogging anonymously compromises that core principle. If a reporter believes that some anonymity of similar tactic is required — possibly as part of a reporting assignment or a restaurant review — the strategy should be used carefully and in consultation with an editor. And if you decide it is appropriate, consider the plan for eventual disclosure and transparency. This same rule applies to any “journalist”: bloggers, editors, photographers, etc.

How do you decide what to link to in the work you publish online?

We start by asking the questions listed in the publishing protocol above. The linking decision requires more specific considerations, including the relevance and reliability of the material that might be linked. The decision to link or not — especially to controversial content that the audience could find on its own — creates an opportunity for explanation and discussion. Linking decisions should be based on serving the audience with as accurate and as complete a picture of the world as possible. Such decisions should not be limited by commercial concerns about sending customers to others’ sites.

When is it appropriate to publish material that has not been reviewed or edited?

Decisions about when to edit — and how much — are best made along a risk/benefit scale that includes such considerations as the nature of the information, the relative importance of speed versus accuracy, the relative importance of quantity vs. quality of the material to be published, the availability of resources, and the skill, experience and track record of the person producing the content. Just as live shots increased the likelihood of unedited content appearing on television news broadcasts, various digital formats now emerging will create platforms for content subjected to a range of editing – from none to rigorous. Whatever level of editing is applied, the variety of new platforms underscores how important it is for publishers to communicate clearly just what level of editing has been applied.

Why would you ever allow people to publish something without their real identity attached to what they say?

There are times when withholding the full name of an author could serve a useful purpose. A news organization might publish unsigned editorials in an effort to express a view meant to represent that of an entire editorial board. A civil servant adding a comment to a blog might sign only as Ticked Off in Tallahassee in order to add useful information to a political debate without jeopardizing his or her job. Even more significant is the need to provide protected anonymity to whistle blowers whose information can be independently verified. For the most part, though, it’s difficult to make the case that the credibility of anonymous content can ever match that of material whose author is known. As journalists, our default position is to publish material only with full names attached. We make exceptions only in rare cases, only for compelling reasons, and only with explanations attached explaining the reason for the anonymity.

How do you decide when a user should be banned from publishing on your site?

This question raises a fundamental tension for journalists working in digital media: the need for a news organization to accommodate conflicting views at the same time it creates and maintains a community of civil discourse and debate. News organizations should create terms of service for users contributing content to the news organization’s digital editions. Such terms cover such issues as the use of obscenity, personal attacks, etc. in material published by non-staffers. Publishers should also be clear about the consequences for violating terms of service, e.g. immediate banning from further posting, suspension, etc.

How do you decide when the editorial significance of an event overrides the limited quality of the video or audio?

Journalists should be guided by three main principles: telling the story as fully and truthfully as possible, acting as independently as possible, and causing as little harm as possible. Low production quality — whether video or audio or something else — diminishes the credibility of the material presented. Journalists need to weigh that consideration against the importance and interest level of the event that’s being reported. The greater the importance and interest level, the greater allowance for limited quality production values.




Be Honest and Fair
Bloggers should be honest and fair in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
Bloggers should:
• Never plagiarize.
• Identify and link to sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources’ reliability.
• Make certain that Weblog entries, quotations, headlines, photos and all other content do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.
• Never distort the content of photos without disclosing what has been changed. Image enhancement is only acceptable for for technical clarity. Label montages and photo illustrations.
• Never publish information they know is inaccurate — and if publishing questionable information, make it clear it’s in doubt.
• Distinguish between advocacy, commentary and factual information. Even advocacy writing and commentary should not misrepresent fact or context.
• Distinguish factual information and commentary from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.

Minimize Harm
Ethical bloggers treat sources and subjects as human beings deserving of respect.
Bloggers should:
• Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by Weblog content. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects.
• Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief.
• Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of information is not a license for arrogance.
• Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy.
• Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.
Be cautious about identifying juvenile suspects, victims of sex crimes and criminal suspects before the formal filing of charges.

Be Accountable
Bloggers should:
• Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
• Explain each Weblog’s mission and invite dialogue with the public over its content and the bloggers’ conduct.
• Disclose conflicts of interest, affiliations, activities and personal agendas.
• Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence content. When exceptions are made, disclose them fully to readers.
• Be wary of sources offering information for favors. When accepting such information, disclose the favors.
• Expose unethical practices of other bloggers.
• Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.

July 2001 By J.D. Lasica, Senior columnist for the Online Journalism Review and served as editorial director of two Internet startups.

When the Web first blasted onto the public’s radar screen back in 1994, the grand pooh-bahs of journalism wondered what it meant for the profession: Would journalists become obsolete in the new Net order? Would the Internet’s anything-goes dynamic dilute journalism’s core values and standards? What were the rules, and who would write them?

Things have settled down a bit since the Web’s Kitty Hawk days. Now that the high-tech bubble has burst and we’re moving into a period of retrenchment and reassessment, it seems appropriate to pause and consider how the Internet is shaping journalism ethics, and how the Internet ethic is steering journalism in new directions.

Every day we read about ethical lapses fostered in cyberspace: the stealth drug company site masquerading as a health information center, misleading stock tips made in financial chat rooms, electronic shopping bots whose results are skewed to favor retail clients, e-commerce sites’ egregious violations of users’ privacy. Compared to this sorry track record, online news sites have performed admirably.

That’s not to say that journalism on the Web has been flawless. Both traditional news operations and newcomers like Slate and Salon have encountered their fair share of ethical controversies. It strikes me that online journalism ethics might be grouped into three broad categories:

•   Gathering the news. Journalists face a new host of ethical considerations related to the online medium, ranging from a reporter concealing her identity in a chat room to quoting from bulletin board postings to recording and streaming digital footage without the subject’s permission.

•   Reporting the news. Speed is one of the Internet’s greatest virtues — and vices. In the current saturated media environment, the Internet heightens the intense competitive pressures to be first while a story is still developing and key facts remain unknown. Is there a looser standard for reporting in a medium where information wants to be free and where speed reigns supreme?

•   Presenting the news. While print publications have long been governed by an implicit separation of church and state, the line between editorial and business interests is often blurred in a Web universe where the No. 1 rule is to survive. Online editorial staffers face questions about their Web sites’ ad placement, the influence of e-commerce on editorial decisions, and related questions that affect credibility and editorial independence. When is it permissible for corporations to sponsor editorial content? Do news organizations compromise their independence by partnering with companies that have a vested interest in gathering information about readers in ways that could compromise their privacy? Should news organizations post their ethics policy on an online disclosure page?

Let’s examine each area briefly.

News gathering on the Net

Thus far, it strikes me that online news gathering has enhanced rather than detracted from journalism’s credibility. The online medium gives journalists the powerful tools of context and authentication.

Reporters and editors use the Net’s links-based architecture to provide users with important background information, resources and archived articles that allow users to glimpse the trajectory of a news story over time. Consider coverage of the Microsoft antitrust trial or Florida vote recount, for example.

Equally important — and still underused, in my view — is the ability to link to source materials, transcripts, public records and other original documents to buttress an article’s reporting. In this age of public mistrust of the media, such steps enhance a news organization’s credibility. In my freshman year at college my journalism professor told us that the first rule of good journalism is: Show, don’t tell. So: Don’t tell readers to trust you. Show them the goods.

News gathering techniques on the Net do present some new challenges for journalists. If your gut tells you that you’re heading into ethically gray territory, consult with other journalists but also with non-journalists who may be better steeped in the hallowed tradition of Netiquette, or acceptable behavior online.

Here’s my own take on a few of these: Is it OK for reporters to lurk in chat rooms without identifying themselves? (Rarely, and only when the subject is of significant public importance.) Can reporters quote from bulletin board postings or chat transcripts without asking the user’s permission? (Among the Net set, it’s considered bad form at best and unethical at worst, and it may violate some sites’ terms and conditions. In my experience, the great majority of users were flattered that I wanted to quote their postings and pleased that I had asked permission, and they gave it.) Do news subjects have the right not to be subjected to ambushes by online journalists carrying camcorders, digital cameras or live Webcams? (Until broadband arrives, it falls into the realm of hypothetical, but “60 Minutes” largely abandoned the practice years ago and I see no reason why the online medium should hew to a lower standard.)

You might recall one dubious news-gathering incident that received press coverage: Salon published a first-person account by a writer who described licking office doorknobs in an effort to spread cold germs to derail the 2000 presidential campaign of GOP hopeful Gary Bauer. Salon’s editor defended the piece, saying it merely described events that took place before Salon was contacted by the author, but the decision drew criticism in mainstream media circles. (You’ll have to do your own ethical gut check on this one.)

Microsoft’s Slate ran into trouble, too, for being hoodwinked this summer by a free-lance writer who detailed a day of “monkeyfishing” — using baited fishing poles to catch rhesus monkeys — in the Florida Keys. After doubts were raised about the story’s veracity in online circles and a New York Times reporter uncovered facts that contradicted key elements of the account, Slate editor Michael Kinsley issued a statement on the site June 25, saying, “Slate … now acknowledges that it published falsehoods and we apologize to our readers.” The hoax could have been perpetrated online or in print, but the self-correcting machinery of the Internet makes it that much harder for fabricated accounts to stand unchallenged.

Prediction: The decade ahead promises to thrust online news gathering techniques into the spotlight far more prominently as untold thousands of Net users take on the mantle of amateur reporters and begin lone-wolf operations to cover stories in their back yards and neighborhoods, complete with Weblogs and video footage online but absent the standards of professional newsrooms. Stay tuned.

Excessive speed kills credibility

Much of the concern about the Internet’s impact on journalism centers on the new medium’s emphasis on speed and immediacy, which properly remain central tenets of online publishing. Not long ago, news sites were content to publish only stories from the morning paper. For most large and mid-sized online newspapers, those days are thankfully gone, as users demand timely details about news events as they occur. Countless thousands of us have signed up for e-mail alerts whenever major news breaks. Millions of us flock to our computer screens for the latest developments whenever a big story hits.

As Dave Kansas, former editor in chief of TheStreet.com, wrote in the New York Times last month: “People want information faster than they did ever before. The ‘news cycle’ seems a quaint idea when stories can erupt, spread and die in a matter of hours.”

The challenge facing online journalists is to balance the legitimate desires of the online audience for up-to-the-minute reports with the profession’s traditions of fairness, completeness, balance and accuracy. There’s an inherent tension built into such an equation, but instantaneous reporting is a skill set mastered long ago by wire service reporters and by television and radio news professionals covering live events.

The guidepost must always remain: What best serves the interests of the reader and the public while remaining fair to those named in the story? Not: Can we beat our competitors even though we haven’t nailed down this story? Online news sites that continually update their breaking-news reports with new information have generally done a good job in bringing bulletins to the masses.

But sometimes competitive pressures win out. Two of the more memorable examples came during the investigation of President Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky:

•   The Dallas Morning News’ Web site reported in January 1998 that a federal employee had seen Clinton and Lewinsky in a “compromising situation” in the White House and had agreed to testify as a government witness. The report proved to be false, but not before it flooded the airwaves and landed on the front pages of dozens of major newspapers. It appears the culprit here was not the online medium but a shaky source.

•   A week later The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition published allegations that a White House steward had seen Clinton and Lewinsky alone together and had “disposed of tissues with lipstick and other stains.” The Journal published the story on its Web site without waiting for a response from the White House. The paper defended its actions by saying other news organizations were closing in on its exclusive. The account turned out to be false.

In his first interview on the subject of Internet reporting, Ted Koppel told me a few years ago that the primary responsibility of journalists in any medium is to separate truth from rumor. He said: “Reporting is not really about, `Let’s see who can get the first information to the public as quickly as possible.’ It should be about `Let’s see who can get the first information to the public as quickly as possible – as soon as we have had a chance to make sure the information is accurate, to weigh it against what we know, to put it in some sort of context.’ ”

There will be news sites that pay overly slavish attention to speed at the expense of accuracy. Those sites, in my judgment, will lose out in the end.

Church and state online

While magazines, newspapers and broadcasters abide by traditions governing the separation of editorial and advertising, and trade association guidelines establish rules for the display of ads and advertorials, and publications have adopted standards covering conflicts of interest and the like, few such rules have very deep roots on the Web.

The New York Times was roundly criticized by journalism academics in 1998 when it began offering a link to barnesandnoble.com on its Web site’s books pages. But my sentiments lie with the ranks of Internet users who believe online news sites do us a disservice if they publish book reviews without offering the ability to click and buy the book. (Of course, offering links to several commerce sites is better than offering only one.) In recent years other online publications, such as washingtonpost.com, have entered the e-commerce marketplace, selling goods on its Web site. All these efforts bear close scrutiny to ensure that editorial decisions are not influenced by financial considerations, just as has long been the case in print newsrooms.

Other news sites, such as CNET’s News.com, earlier this year began running oversized ads smack in the middle of editorial copy in an effort to induce users to click on them. Other online news sites are expected to follow suit in the coming months. Visibility is fine; obfuscation is not. And online publishers need to do more work to ensure that users do not become confused by the intrusion of commercial content into the editorial space.

Sponsorships have the potential to become a trouble spot for financially struggling news sites. What happens to your site’s credibility when its Travel section is sponsored by United Airlines, its Autos section sponsored by Honda, and its Technology section sponsored by Intel? So far, online news sites by and large have resisted such direct conflicts of interest, but as online advertising continues to slump, Web business managers may take a harder look at sponsorships, tiered subscriptions that wall off premium content from non-paying readers, and other sources of income.

All these practices cry out for a disclosure page detailing the publication’s rules governing news coverage, employee behavior, acceptance of freebies and other ethical questions. But only a few news sites, such as the San Antonio Express-News, CNET and TheStreet.com, have done so, and the number of sites with ethics codes has barely budged from three years ago.

The state of online ethics in perspective

Online journalists have taken some hard knocks and learned some tough lessons over the past few years. While press coverage has cast blame on “the Internet” for many of journalism’s sins and shortcomings, perhaps a little perspective is in order.

Only three years ago, the journalism world shuddered at the prospect that Matt Drudge was chiseling the new rules of the road for Internet reporting. At conferences, in newsrooms and at corner taverns, reporters bemoaned a world in which a celebrated purveyor of rumor and innuendo plied his trade without bothering to verify the allegations he zapped off into cyberspace each day. Others wondered whether traditional journalism had a home in a medium in which speed was often valued above verification, where first-person diatribes trumped balanced reporting, where noise crowded out signal.

As the Net has gone mainstream, so too has it matured. With well over 100 million American adults now online, compared with about half that number three years ago, the Internet now much more closely reflects society’s values. The principles and values that matter to Americans in print and broadcast news — fairness, accuracy, balance, even-handedness — also matter to them in the online medium.

In April, MSNBC appointed the first ombudsman of an online news organization: Dan Fisher, a respected former editor and foreign bureau chief at the Los Angeles Times. Fisher told me: “The thing that has surprised me most is that the kinds of concerns readers have on the Web track pretty closely with their concerns in traditional media.” The top concerns expressed by online users? They want to hold the news site accountable by hewing to the high standards of mainstream journalism: balanced reporting, accuracy, fairness, keeping political bias out of the news pages.

Studies by the Pew Research Center and others find that Americans are increasingly turning to the Internet for their news, with more than one in three Americans using the Net to routinely get their news. In fact, the Pew’s most recent survey on the subject, released in June 2000, made this surprising discovery:

“As Americans grow more reliant on the Internet for news, they also have come to find online news outlets more credible. Despite the controversy over news-gathering techniques employed by some Internet sites, those who go online generally give Internet news operations high marks for believability. In fact, the online sites of such well-known news organizations as ABC News get better ratings from Internet users than the ratings accorded the traditional broadcast or print outlets.”

Why do Americans give somewhat greater credence to CNN.com than CNN, to MSNBC than NBC News, and to USAToday.com than USA Today? Because these news operations have transferred their greatest assets — their credibility and trustworthiness — to the online medium, while at the same time taking advantage of some of the Net’s key assets: its nonlinear nature (we like to call up stories, or drill down to related stories, on our own time frame); its instantaneity and convenience (breaking news lies only a mouse click away); its authentication value (reporters can point users to source documentation rather than tell readers to just trust us); and its interactivity (though this is generally limited to users interacting with each other rather than journalists and readers having a two-way dialogue).

None of this would have been possible had online journalism jettisoned the values of traditional journalism and embraced a Drudge-like mindset of looser standards in which a reporter is obligated to pass along any rumor or accusation that comes across his desk, without verifying its veracity.

If they’re to remain relevant in our increasingly digital society, online news operations need to experiment with new communication forms, to abandon the sheltered mindset of newsroom professionals and embrace a culture of true interactivity, to break some rules and offer idiosyncratic, fresh voices (especially young voices) to the public. But they must not abandon the standards of fairness, balance and trustworthiness that have served us so well.

In the end, journalists — both print and online — must never forget that, ultimately, we’re in the business of truth-telling, that service to our community is an essential underpinning of our craft, that our guiding principle should be less about getting the story first than getting it right, and that no amount of advertising dollars will rescue a news site that abandons its credibility.



A Question of Ethics

Bonnie Meltzer

This article was first published in the December 1995/January 1996 issue of Leading and Learning with Technology ©1996 all rights reserved.

While walking down a street in a big city, a newspaper cover caught my eye. From 100 feet away I said to myself, Somebody’s been using Photoshop. The picture on the front page was of a noted personality all dressed up in the latest grunge—–not her usual style. What caught my eye was not the celebrity but the obvious use of photo manipulation. The hair was drawn on with bilious yellow and of a texture that was not real. As I got closer I could see that the artist who made the cover of this weekly paper wanted you to know that he had tampered with the original photo. It was very obvious.

I snatched up a copy of the paper to use at my next lecture on imaging. I now had a perfect visual example of badly executed, very clumsy photo manipulation. But why did I want such a bad photo? Because this cover, especially juxtaposed with a skillfully manipulated photo, raises two of the most important questions about photo manipulation. Why are photographs edited, anyway? Does it make a difference if you can tell that a photo has been edited?


The Importance of Reading Images

Computer-edited photographs are ubiquitous. Even if we weren’t teachers we have to know the issues surrounding imaging. We live in an increasingly visual world. As individuals and as a culture, we need to know how to read and interpret visual images.

As teachers we need to help our students be aware of the uses and abuses of imaging. Photo manipulation is not just about using the technology — is about understanding our society. We have to prepare our students as users of the technology because they will become adults who will be working in the newsrooms, laboratories, and graphic studios.

They are also going to be on the receiving end of all this manipulated visual information. We have to help them navigate through it all so they can become thinking adults. All this raises more questions. How do we tell what’s real and What’s not? How do we keep from believing everything that is printed? How do we keep from believing nothing?

Manipulating Photographs

I will probably raise more questions in this article than I will answer. I can, however, give you a good idea of why people edit photographs. All of you who read this publication already know that computers are wondrous machines. When it comes to photography it seems even more magical. I can redecorate my whole house, loose ten pounds or even ten years, and leap tall building at a single bound all while sitting at my Mac. As an artist I am entranced by the creative things I can do. I can make a visual landscape replete with icons and symbols. I can stretch reality to create new meaning by mixing images that don’t normally appear together. I can make reality unreal and, conversely, make fantasy seem real.

Artists sometimes need to work with the mundane. We have to take the bad photographs that our clients give us and make them printable. I recently received a newsletter that had a picture of a group of board members on the front page. I don’t think it was an editorial comment that the members of the board were gray and faceless. Whoever was responsible for putting the newsletter together didn’t know that a photo can be made lighter and brighter, be given more contrast, and have the image sharped. With a computer and photo manipulation software, the contrast in the photo could have been adjusted turning this photo into a nice group portrait instead of a faceless blob.

Family pictures that are so faded that you are afraid that the image won’t last until next year, much less the next generation, can also be made more visible with imaging. Even after all these years of working with enhancement software, I am amazed at how much can be made visible with the right techniques and, of course, software. Grandma’s features reappear!

And speaking of family pictures, what about the one in which you look really cute but it appears that a parking meter is growing out of your head? Aunt Sally could never master the view finder! Again, photo imaging software comes to the rescue. Not only can you erase the parking meter but you can extend the rest of the background to fill in where the meter stood.

It used to be that you needed zillions of dollars worth of hardware and complicated software to accomplish these feats. Now, however, our fourth grade students can achieve these miracles with even LC’s and low cost software like Color It!

The Ethics of Manipulation

Why do you think that Oprah Whinfrey’s head on Ann Margaret’s body appeared on the cover of August 26, 1989 issue of TV Guide? Try to imagine a final production meeting in which an editor might have tried to explain the decision to use that photo:

I need a picture of Oprah, a new one now that she is thin but we don’t have one and we go to press too soon to get one. What shall we do? Let’s see, we have an old picture of her. Let’s but her head on a thin body. We can do that now, right? Who will know? We just have to match the direction of the head and the body. We don’t even have to worry about color. We can match any skin tone. We need to do this now .

Is a deadline a good enough justification for this solution? Is laziness a good enough reason? Is cost a good enough reason?

The Oprah example may seem rather trivial—Unless, of course, the picture was of you. The intent may be different, but is there any difference in the editor’s solution and painting a mustache and beard on a poster? Both are violations of the person pictured. Does it matter that in one instance the attempt was made to make the person look good while the other was made to discredit the person? Answering the questions begets more questions

The matter of intent must be discussed. In the Oprah example, we have surmised that “truth” may sometimes be distorted because of laziness. But there are other reasons images are manipulated. The two headed goats on the cover of the supermarket tabloids are made to deceive. Can a can of pop be removed electronically from a table without being deceptive? Should a person ever be added or subtracted from a photo? Again we must consider intent. Is the photo of people going to be used at a trial? Is it for a newsletter or class picture? Does it appear in a reliable newspaper as a news item? What makes the difference between a positive use of photo manipulation and an abuse of it?

Even positive intent can lead to distortion. A person editing photographs must always be aware of the way our soviet reads symbols. You have seen the June 27,1994 covers of Newsweek and Time with two different versions of the same mug shot of O. J. Simpson. The Time cover make Simpson’s face darker, blurrier, and unshaven. Matt Mahurin, the illustrator at Time Magazine who manipulated the police photo of O. J., at his word, he said that he “wanted to make it more artful, more compelling.” He forgot to ask the following questions:

  • Should a police photo be manipulated? A news photo be manipulated?
  • Are certain kinds of images symbols for complicated attitudes and issues.
  • Are certain symbols or images understood differently by different ethnic groups or segments of society.
  • Will my intent be misinterpreted? Will I be unsuccessful as a visual communicator?

We are left asking ourselves the question: Was Mr. Mahurin a racist, an unthinking person or a bad artist?

Newsweek published the same mug shot without altering it. It was the juxtaposition of both the Time and Newsweek covers that really points to the issues. No other example of photo manipulation gives us as much to talk about as these two covers. The issues are present with other examples from the media but they aren’t as clearly defined.

Student Awareness

The question you are probably asking at this point is, What can I do? One way of helping students to understand the issues surrounding photo manipulation is to have them ask questions. Make them aware of all the issues involves when they create images for the school newspapers, art class, term papers and other school work. You can start with Where? When? Why? How? and What?

  • Where did I get this photo? Is it mine to use?
  • When can I use a copyrighted photo?
  • Why am I changing this photo?
  • How will the readers interpret this photo?
  • How would they have interpreted it without editing?
  • What is the context of the photo? Is this photo supposed to be truth (journalism) or fantasy (art)?

For those of you who don’t teach imaging the same questions can be asked of newspaper and magazine photos, TV advertisements, and even mail. The idea is to enable your students to observe, analyze, evaluate, and yes, think critically about the tons of visual material that come their way.

The manipulation of photographs is not new. In 1903 Edward Steichen said . . .

In the very beginning, when the operator controls and regulates his time of exposure, when in the dark room the developer is mixed for detail, breath, flatness or contrast, faking has been resorted to. In fact every photograph is a fake from start to finish, a purely impersonal, unmanipulated photograph being practically impossible. When all is said, it still remains entirely a matter of degree and ability. Adobe Magazine 6(3), 104)

It is also true that photographers touch up photographs, but it was a long and arduous process. Digital editing is faster and easier. The tools are within economic reach for institutions and individuals. Thus more photographs can be and are manipulated.

My intent in writing this article is to make you aware of the issues–to get you to ask questions–to stimulate discussion and to encourage debate with your students and your peers. Some questions can’t be answered easily. Others can’t be answered at all. But to not ask the questions is to miss a great opportunity.

Reprinted with permission from Learning And Leading With Technology, vol. 23 no. 4, published by the International Society for Technology in Education and Bonnie Meltzer ©1996. All rights reserved.

Bonnie Meltzer is an artist and an educator. She uses a computer to design her work. Not only does she make digital collages but she uses recycled computer parts for jewelry and sculpture. As an educator she is available for computer workshops and lectures on digital photography and making visual arts on the computer. Her specialty is teaching artists and teachers.She has taught every age group and ability level from pre-school kids to 94 yer old senior citizens and from computer novice to computer wizzard.




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