Maira Garcia officially has one of the coolest journalism jobs in the world. As a senior staff editor for the New York Times, Garcia works at The Culture Desk where she thinks about how to frame web content for an increasingly mobile and social audience. On a typical day, Garcia has to make decisions on how digital content is promoted and placed, ensuring it is pushed out on time and in the right places, and she reaches deep into the depths of the Times’ rich archive of content to give it new blood and views like this engaging interactive after rock star Prince’s passing.
As someone who is well versed with developing digital and online strategy, we asked Garcia to provide some advice for aspiring journalists and content creators. If you’re jump-starting a news website or blog, or would like to learn how to create effective online content, take a look at some of Garcia’s advice:
Write for a mobile audience.
No matter where you’re starting with online content creation, Garcia says it’s important to think about how your audience is consuming media. And increasingly, that’s from a mobile device.
“One of the things we realized [at the New York Times] is that we often wrote leads that were way too long, and when you look at it on a mobile device, it can be a while before there’s a break in text or a photo appears,” said Garcia.
Writing concisely is also key. Reading long blocks of text on a mobile device can be cumbersome, so it’s becoming increasingly important to use frequent paragraph breaks and get to the point sooner in a story meant for mobile.
Think about your visuals.
Let’s be honest: audience attention spans online seem to be getting shorter and shorter. This means visuals often play a key role in whether or not someone will read a story or stay engaged throughout an article. Garcia advises content creators to incorporate high quality visuals as much as possible to complement an article. However, the image or video should not detract from the story but instead contribute to it. Also, when articles are automatically posted to social media sites like Twitter or Facebook, those sites automatically choose featured images on that social network. So, image selection can become a very valuable part of the article in terms of sharing and dissemination.
Edit your work.
With all the content online today, it can seem impossible to rise above the noise. Having a unique voice is one way to stand out, but Garcia goes a step further than simply being distinctive.
“Be factual and accurate,” said Garcia. “Find someone to edit your content, and give it a second look. Often times, it’s easy to overlook a grammatical error or confusing statements, but having a second pair of eyes on your work might help clarify content for the reader.”
With the increasing ease of digital publication, publishing a blog post too early can be a major pitfall. Ensuring your work is correct the first time goes a long way in a reader’s eyes.
Finally, Garcia advised anyone starting out in content creation to get their social media profiles in order. People love personality, and letting that shine through on your many social platforms can really help your stories reach more people.