The main difference between primary and secondary sources is how you collect it. Primary sources is material you gather yourself, for example quotes from interviews that you conducted in person or quotes you have gotten directly via social media or email. Secondary sources on the other hand is something you have not gathered yourself, for example quotes from other articles, background information from social media or reports.
Primary sources are important because they are the essence of journalism. Without primary sources, no one would ever write something new but only copy each other. When you use primary sources in your articles, you introduce new points of view to the reader. Also, primary sources is more reliable than secondary sources. When using secondary sources, it is harder to check the facts and verify the information, and the risk of spreading false information is higher.
The best practice is to use a mix of both primary and secondary sources, but to try and keep secondary sources to a minimum. You should mostly use them as background information, and always make sure to get your own quotes and check the information before publishing.
The main difference I’ve noticed between printed content and online content is that online articles are so much shorter. This actually surprised me. I always figured that you would use the same article you had for print and just adapt it to online, for example by adding multimedia content and more cross headings to break up the text. Something else that surprised me is that you treat the language differently as well; when writing for online you use shorter sentences and simpler words. However it does make sense when I think about it, since people are more easily distracted when reading online.
Web users simply scan content, more than actually read it. Instead of reading the page from top to bottom, they use it as they use social media: scroll quickly and look for something to catch their interest. That is why we need to adapt our content to online: we need to add pictures, break up paragraphs and try to add as many elements as possible that will catch the readers interest while scanning and make them stay and read.
It does leave me with a question: if more and more people get their news from online sources, and journalists adapting their writing to online publishing – will the “traditional” way of writing completely cease to exist?
I did not have any major difficulties setting up my site. Probably because I have worked both with WordPress and other blog sites before, so I am used to it. However I found it tricky to add my introduction page to the navigation bar at first, but with a bit of googling and help from Karls handy guide I managed to solve it. Other than that I think that WordPress is fairly easy to work with once you have gotten used to it, it is clearly structured and logically organised.
Regarding the appearance of my site, I will admit it could be better. It would be more fun if I would add a picture for example, but after working at a few bigger newspapers and getting a lot of less friendly emails I am very careful about what i post online. I realised how easy it is for people to track you down and therefore I don’t want to post any pictures or too personal information. So my site is pretty anonymous, but since that is what I want I am happy with it. To improve it I have changed the theme, the colour of the background and the font.
My view of the journalism industry has been confirmed over the last week. I knew that printed newspapers are dying and that digital is growing, and I also knew that niched magazines and sites are growing since the readers are becoming more fragmented. However, since I’m mostly familiar with the Swedish journalism industry, it was still somewhat of an eyeopener that the situation is so similar in the different countries. For example: the fact that The MailOnline is the most popular website in the world. That was both surprising to me, as I didn’t expect it to be THAT big, but at the same time I knew that Swedish tabloids are doing very well online. So that was both the most surprising information I learned this week, but at the same time it confirmed what I already knew.
In the next 10 weeks I look forward to the lectures and workshops about curation, since it’s a concept I’m not familiar with. But most importantly I’m looking forward to the assignments and actually writing the articles. Both because that’s what I enjoy doing the most, and also because I’m eager to practice and learn how to do it well in English.