The 5 C's of writing news for mobile audiences

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The 5 C's of writing news for mobile audiences Free

By Linda Austin | Reynolds Journalism Institute
10 Lessons
4.3
(40 reviews)

In five-minute lessons, learn how to be conversational, considerate, concise, contextual and chunky – even if you've never written for mobile before.

From the author:In five-minute lessons, learn how to be conversational, considerate, concise, contextual and chunky – even if you've never written for mobile before.

The 5 C's of writing news for mobile audiences Lessons

Click through the microlessons below to preview this course. Each lesson is designed to deliver engaging and effective learning to your team in only minutes.

  1. Be conversational
  2. Be considerate: PYIRP tip 1
  3. Be considerate: PYIRP tips 2-3
  4. Be concise: PYIRP tips 4-5
  5. Quick review: Be considerate and Be concise
  6. Be contextual
  7. Be chunky
  8. Final review
  9. Test
  10. After-course survey

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What you will learn

  • How to be conversational
  • Putting yourself in the readers place and shaping your writing to serve them
  • Providing context that makes readers feel smarter
  • Why and how to chunk text

The 5 C's of writing news for mobile audiences course excerpts

Be conversational

Imagine you're talking to someone you know: Mom!
The 5 C's of writing news for mobile audiences Course - Lesson Excerpt

Be conversational

What does this soaring audience for mobile news expect?

Be conversational

The 1st C: Be conversational. Imagine you're talking to someone you know.

Like your mom

Be conversational

Be conversational. Like this

Be conversational

Like this

Be conversational

Or like this

Be conversational

Or this

Be conversational

Which headline sounds more like you're talking to mom?

Be considerate: PYIRP tip 1

Put yourself in the readers' place (PYIRP) and shape your writing to serve them.
The 5 C's of writing news for mobile audiences Course - Lesson Excerpt

Be considerate: PYIRP tip 1

Please think about the last time you read news on your phone.

Be considerate: PYIRP tip 1

Were you filling a few minutes of down time while you were doing something else?

Be considerate: PYIRP tip 1

Were you distracted? Was your phone buzzing with alerts? Were you watching for your ride or your stop?

Be considerate: PYIRP tip 1

Were you reading on a small screen? The tweet says: "If this were your iPhone screen, would you want to read and engage?"

Be considerate: PYIRP tip 1

The 1st PYIRP tip: “Tell people why the story is about them.” -- Mark Jacob, former metro editor, Chicago Tribune

Be considerate: PYIRP tip 1

Read this head.

Be considerate: PYIRP tip 1

And read this one.

Be considerate: PYIRP tip 1

Which headline tells people why the story is about them? The Politico headline tells people why the story is about them: 5 cases to watch as Supreme Court term begins It has an implied "you." It could be written: 5 cases for you to watch as Supreme Court term begins. Unlike the other head: Supreme Court prepares to take on politically charged cases

Be considerate: PYIRP tip 1

Which headline tells people why the story is about them? The Politico headline tells people why the story is about them: 5 cases to watch as Supreme Court term begins It has an implied "you." It could be written: 5 cases for you to watch as Supreme Court term begins. Unlike the other head: Supreme Court prepares to take on politically charged cases

Be considerate: PYIRP tip 1

Be considerate: PYIRP tips 2-3

Put yourself in the readers' place (PYIRP) and shape your writing to serve them.
The 5 C's of writing news for mobile audiences Course - Lesson Excerpt

Be considerate: PYIRP tips 2-3

The 2nd PYIRP tip: Start strong Only a few words show up on small screens. Start with the most important stuff.

Be considerate: PYIRP tips 2-3

Which headline starts stronger?

Which headline starts stronger?

Which headline starts stronger?

The 3rd PYIRP tip: Prompt a reaction Make readers curious, mad, sad, happy or smarter. Just don't make them bored. And deliver what you promise.

Be considerate: PYIRP tips 2-3

Write a short tweet for your story first. That might also be the headline. This tweet says, "Audi's new $20,000 carbon fiber bike weighs just 12 pounds." Why write a tweet?

Be considerate: PYIRP tips 2-3

This headline was ignored by most Chicago Tribune readers.

Be considerate: PYIRP tips 2-3

Tap the quote bubble at upper right, and tell us why this head was being ignored.

Be considerate: PYIRP tips 2-3

This head was ignored because it does not prompt a reaction It lacks specifics to make readers curious, mad, sad, happy or smarter. It makes them bored.

Be considerate: PYIRP tips 2-3

This head prompts a "wow" reaction Editor Kurt Gessler went to the 11th paragraph to find specific, interesting details to prompt a reaction with this head, and the story became the second-most read that day.

Be considerate: PYIRP tips 2-3

Be concise: PYIRP tips 4-5

Put yourself in the readers' place (PYIRP). Avoid wordiness. Keep headlines short.
The 5 C's of writing news for mobile audiences Course - Lesson Excerpt

Be concise: PYIRP tips 4-5

The 4th PYIRP tip: Avoid wordiness. Pretend each word will cost you $100.

Be concise: PYIRP tips 4-5

“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” -- French mathematician Blaise Pascal

Be concise: PYIRP tips 4-5

Take the time to choose each word carefully.

Be concise: PYIRP tips 4-5

The 5th PYIRP tip: Write short headlines. Scanners want to know in SECONDS whether to read your story.

Be concise: PYIRP tips 4-5

How short? 55 characters, the BBC says. This head is 52.

Be concise: PYIRP tips 4-5

This head, at 69, verges on too long.

Be concise: PYIRP tips 4-5

Quick review: Be considerate and Be concise

Remember the 5 tips to Put Yourself in the Readers' Place (PYIRP).
The 5 C's of writing news for mobile audiences Course - Lesson Excerpt

Quick review:

Pick the better headline

Pick the better headline

Pick the better headline

Pick the better headline

Be contextual

Provide context that makes readers feel smarter.
The 5 C's of writing news for mobile audiences Course - Lesson Excerpt

Be contextual

"The context of the stories is often more important than the event itself." -- David Halberstam, (left) 1964 Pulitzer winner for covering Vietnam for The New York Times

Be contextual

Which head provides context?

Which push alert provides context?

This New York Times story reports how North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's half-brother was slain. What questions could context answer? Tap the quote bubble at upper right and provide them in the comments.

Be contextual

This New York Times Q-and-A provides context on nerve agents.

Be contextual

How else to give context a family-tree diagram a bulleted list of what we know and don't know chunky bios* of the half-brothers. *More in the next lesson: Be chunky.

Be contextual

Be chunky

Break out of the inverted pyramid and banish walls of text.
The 5 C's of writing news for mobile audiences Course - Lesson Excerpt

Be chunky

Examine this paragraph How many sentences long is it?

Be chunky

How inviting was that paragraph of 5 sentences? Paragraphs of five sentences or more form an uninviting wall of text.

Be chunky

How inviting was that paragraph of 5 sentences? Paragraphs of five sentences or more form an uninviting wall of text.

Be chunky

Why else should you chunk text? Which phone number is easier to remember?

Be chunky! Let's look at techniques to organize text and help readers.

Be chunky

What are 3 techniques to chunk this story?

A last tip on story length from the editor who co-founded the news start-up, Quartz, in 2012 and sold it for $75-$110 million in 2018.

Be chunky

"Between 500 and 800 words is the place you don't want to be." For greater reader engagement: Go short, focused and shareable, OR Go long, in-depth and insightful. Avoid the middle

Be chunky

Final review

Review the previous lessons on being conversational, considerate, concise, contextual and chunky before moving on to the course test.
The 5 C's of writing news for mobile audiences Course - Lesson Excerpt

Final review

Pick the best headline

Pick the best headline

Pick the best headline

Pick the best headline

Pick the best headline

Pick the best headline

Pick the best headline

Pick the best headline

Pick the best headline

Pick the best headline

Pick the best headline

Which text alert provides context? The Quartz alert provides context: Jeb Bush's departure follows Donald Trump's win. The Washington Post alert does not: Jeb Bush suspends his presidential campaign

Final review

Which text alert provides context? The Quartz alert provides context: Jeb Bush's departure follows Donald Trump's win. The Washington Post alert does not: Jeb Bush suspends his presidential campaign

Final review

Which of these techniques could you use to chunk news stories? Pick as many as apply.

Test

Finish all mandatory lessons and score at least 80 percent on this test to complete the course.
The 5 C's of writing news for mobile audiences Course - Lesson Excerpt

Test

Pick the best headline

Pick the best headline

Pick the best headline

Pick the best headline

Pick the best headline

Pick the best headline

Pick the best headline

Pick the best headline

Pick the best headline

Which of these techniques could you use to chunk news stories? Pick as many as apply.

After-course survey

Please answer these 6 questions to help us improve the course.
The 5 C's of writing news for mobile audiences Course - Lesson Excerpt

After-course survey

The 5 C's of writing news for mobile audiences Course Author

Linda Austin | Reynolds Journalism InstituteLinda Austin is a rare hybrid of award-winning top editor and inspirational educator who is schooled in instructional design and experienced in developing e-learning, training and curriculum. She created this course as a Reynolds Journalism Institute Fellow at the University of Missouri.

Cool

How effectively can complex information be better managed in a conversation. When data is critical and dates are fixed?

Easy way to learn what works in writing news for the mobile reader which is all of us!!!

Last question was weird tbh

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