An old-style newspaperman.

Why journalists make great content strategists

posted in: Web

WHEN it comes to web copywriting, and web strategy, usability and content production, it’s impossible to go past a trained and experienced newspaper journalist.

As a communication specialist, a seasoned journo excels at:

  • Writing
  • Interviews
  • Fast Learners
  • Structure
  • Accuracy

Writing

Journalists know how to write. Words (and images) are the tools of their trade. Centuries of professional wisdom are beaten into passed on to newspaper journalists like me as we are belted moulded into shape by grumpy cranky caring and sharing curmudgeons older newsroom colleagues.

By necessity, we must write with clarity, brevity and purpose. A newspaper reader can never arrive at the end of an article and ask themselves, “What was that all about?”.

Journalists report on complicated matters, but they make them simple so everyone can understand.

Interviews

An old-style newspaperman.
Getting the scoop, old school.

When a writer is producing content for your website they will ask you questions about your business and your objectives.

That’s an interview. And nobody does interviews better than an experienced journalist.

A big part of being a journalist is the art of the question. A good journo keeps asking them until they get the best answer.

Remember, people buy newspapers and magazines. So a journalist must produce content that’s so good that people will actually pay for it. A big part of achieving that is discovering the best bits of a story through superior interviewing skills.

Fast Learners

A journalist is quick on the uptake. Over the course of a week they’ll speak to many people about a wide variety of topics, and they must quickly grasp what they are being told.

No matter the subject, they must understand and then get it right in print.

That makes the job of explaining your business and your objectives to your content provider much faster, easier and sure-fire.

Structure

Journalists who have spent some of their careers in news production also have an understanding of how to optimally present content.

A production journalist like me (I’ve designed and laid-out literally thousands of news pages over my career, including the front page of The Age) is vastly experienced at structuring content so that it’s a breeze to consume.

That knowledge easily transfers to websites, where it’s applied to everything including sentence structure, headlines, images, sidebars and placements of elements.

Accuracy

Nowadays, mistakes are simply unacceptable on a website.

When the net was fresh and new, people were just so amazed by the whizzbangedness of it all that they were prepared to accept fact errors and spelling mistakes.

Those days are LOOOONG gone.

Mistakes on your website make you look unprofessional and sloppy. Potential customers will judge you by the standard of your website and they will punish any slackness by going elsewhere.

It will cost you sales.

So, with the great downsizing of the traditional mass media in full swing, a lot of journalists will be looking for a career change.

That’s good news for your website and other marketing material.

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Follow Nick Moore:
Nick Moore is a communications specialist in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Nick is also the founder of 'Great Wait', a printed news sheet for waiting rooms.