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Excellence in Online Journalism

Excellence in Online Journalism
Exploring Current Practices in an Evolving Environment

September 2010 | 192 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Like the technologies that support it, the craft of online journalism is evolving quickly. This timely book helps students develop standards of excellence, through interviews with more than 30 writers, editors and producers, and dozens of examples of strong work. The author provides a framework of concepts to show how the field is evolving and challenged by competition, staffing limitations, and other pressures. Discussion is organized around four key elements: speed and accuracy with depth in breaking news; comprehensiveness in multimedia content; open-endedness in story development, including public contributions; and conversation with users. Chapter-length treatments of these topics bring home the realities of online work to students, who also come to appreciate how excellence and ethics online go hand in hand.

1. Excellence Online: A Work in Progress
Excellence in Old and New Media

Excellence Online: Four Developing Standards

2. An Ethical Lens for Looking at Excellence
A Practice: The Social Context

Telos: The Big-Picture Goal

Internal Goods: Distinctive Achievements of the Practice

Standards of Excellence: Setting the Bar for the Field

Virtues: The Qualities of Good Character

External Goods and Institutions: Danger Lurking

3. Speed and Accuracy With Depth in Breaking News
The Battle to Be Fast and Right: An Old Challenge With New Pressures

Insights from Online Journalists: Giving Voice to a Standard

Breaking News Through an Ethical Lens

Online Excellence in Development: The Hudson River Jet Landing

Challenges to Maintaining and Enhancing Excellence

Overcoming the Challenges: Virtues in Action

On-the-Job Profile: Mark Stevenson Facing the Daily Challenges

4. Comprehensiveness in Content
Insights From Online Journalists: What Comprehensiveness Means

Challenges to Comprehensiveness

Overcoming the Challenges: Virtues in Action

On-the-Job Profile: Jenni Pinkley Facing the Daily Challenges

5. Open-endedness in Story Development
Excellence in Story Development Online

The Dynamic of Excellence

Challenges to Excellence in Story Development: External Goods Lurking

Attitude Check: Virtues for 21st-Century Journalists

On-the-Job Profile: Robert Quigley Facing the Daily Challenges

6. The Centrality of Conversation
A Longtime Value Takes Center Stage

Standards of Excellence in Online Conversation

The Dynamic of Excellence in Conversation

Now for the Challenges: Stumbling Blocks in the "Conversational Commons"

Virtue and Conversation

On-the-Job Profile: Eric Zorn Facing the Daily Challenges

7. Beyond the Big Guys: Independent and Community Journalism Online
Perspectives from Three Smaller Organizations

Citizen Journalism, Social Media, and Journalism as a Practice

8. The Future of Excellence in Online Journalism: Living in the World of Both-And
The World of Both-And

What It Takes to Work in the World of Both-And

About the Author

The text is an excellent example for students to use as a barometer of industry standards within multimedia journalism and writing online. There are certainly many aspects of online journalism that are evolving, and further research by academics will explore these further, but it opens this arena to many students as they develop as trainee and working journalists in a deadline driven and demanding industry.

Mr Kristian Low
Journalism, Southampton Solent University
February 15, 2011
Key features

Key features:

  • Includes the voices of online journalists from ten news organizations: These experiences allow students to learn directly from professionals in the field. End-of-chapter, on-the-job profiles show examples of a journalist facing the challenges of a particular day.
  • Practical insights are connected with a conceptual framework for understanding excellence in online journalism: Students will see online tools such as interactive graphics, blogs, and social media as part of the bigger picture of growth and change in the practice of journalism.
  • Focuses on the personal qualities, or virtues, that make for excellent work: These discussions show what it takes to be successful in online journalism, beyond basic skills.
  • A Student Study Site at provides links to the examples of online journalism work discussed in each chapter.

For instructors

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