Online Journalism Terminology

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Staff development editor Dana Eagles of the Orlando Sentinel created an online journalism glossary in October 2007 for Poynteronline, the website of the Poynter Institute in Florida, a school for journalists, future journalists, and journalism teachers. Since then, she, along with the Sentinel's online producer Danny Sanchez, have defined nearly 50 terms to help improve journalists' comfort with the rapidly changing jargon of online journalism. Here's a sampling of a few of the entries from their 'Web Speak' glossary, which can be found at Poynteronline.org.

Blogroll
A blogroll is a list of links in which a blogger points readers to related blogs. It says, in effect, if you liked my blog, you might be interested in these others, too. A blogroll typically runs down the side of a blog page.



Micro-blogging
Micro-blogging is a variant of traditional blogging in which users write brief text messages over the Web. Micro-blogging was popularized by the website Twitter, which launched in July 2006 and limits users to 140-character updates. The updates can be made using mobile devices, email, and other tools. On Twitter, users commonly refer to their postings as tweets. Several news sites, including the New York Times, USA Today, the BBC, and the Orlando Sentinel, have a presence on Twitter, where they post breaking news and other updates. Popular micro-blogging sites include Twitter, Jaiku, and Pownce.

Micro-journalism
Micro-journalism describes the new phenomenon of reporting via text messages that are distributed by micro-blogging services such as Twitter. Some reporters have used these postings, known as tweets in Twitter-land, to provide the latest news from the presidential campaign trail. Given that these updates are limited to 140 characters and are usually filed on tiny Blackberry keyboards, they provide an especially rough draft of history.

Mojo
A mojo is a ''mobile journalist'' who works out of a car, using laptop computers, digital cameras, and audio recorders to file intensely local, Web-first news reports. Notably, Gannett Co. has pushed the mojo concept at its Fort Myers News-Press, where the term apparently came into use. Mojos there contribute continuously to microsites that are devoted to coverage of suburban communities.

Spider
A spider, also known as a crawler or ant, is a program that makes methodical searches of the World Wide Web to provide information about pages for search engines. Spiders use hyperlinks from pages they find to identify even more pages, and all the information is returned to a central point for indexing by the search engine.

The glossary also includes links under each entry to relevant news articles and further reading about each term. For instance, under the Micro-journalism entry, there was a link to a January New York Times article, ''Campaign Reporting in Under 140 Taps,'' which chronicled former print journalists’ moves to text messaging as their new form of reporting.

''One of the things we are supposed to do as journalists is take people where they can’t go. [Text messaging] is much more authentic because it really is from inside the room,'' said John Dickerson, chief political correspondent for the online magazine Slate.

As journalism becomes a more and more immediate medium, from print to online and now instantaneous text messaging, it is essential for aspiring and current journalists to keep up with the latest lingo.
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