Online journalism – the news with infinite possibilities

No matter what the medium, there are always indispensable requirements for building good news. However, what differentiates online journalism from others? What are its main features and advantages? Understand this post!

The internet has transformed the way we do journalism, revolutionizing the process from production to publishing. There are several denominations used for this most current tendency of news production, among the main ones are cyberjournalism, digital journalism, webjournalism and online journalism.

The changes have been continuous. Online journalism has gone through several phases. Initially, the sites simply reproduced the same news from their printed versions.

Gradually, the writers began to experiment with new possibilities with the text. For example, the use of links to other materials or different portals and some interactive features (such as comment space).

The online news reader audience grew so much that the texts started to be created exclusively for the digital medium. The Internet has come to be seen as the great news distributor, occupying more and more the space of other media.

Characteristics of online journalism

This modality of journalism presents peculiarities that unlike the other forms of vehicular communication. The researcher Marcos Palacios (UFBA), reference in journalism in digital networks, proposes the following characteristics:


The possibility of enriching the content of the news and making it even more attractive, using complementary resources of different media, such as videos, audios, illustrations and infographics increasingly sophisticated and complex.


The public’s reaction was never so immediate and visible, adding values to the news according to the number of shares, likes and dislikes. It is also worth emphasizing the importance of the space for comments – many of them become the continuation of the news itself.

For example, a site publishes a story about a hospital that suspends SUS care. Just below the news, a reader reports how much your family member expecting care was impaired. This testimony adds strength to the facts narrated.


The online news is full of links to other texts. This expands the content (deepening the news) and enables non-linear access to information. Instead of reading “running text,” the reader can, when he chooses, click on a link that leads to another page, redirecting his reading. The discourse becomes more fragmented. There is a mosaic of complementary information, which presents different angles and perceptions in relation to the same theme.


Much linked to the previous feature: with the hypertextual access of the information, the reader is no longer required to follow a linear reading order. He chooses which links he will access, in his own interest, outlining a personalized reading. Unlike the printed newspaper that is ready in his hands, on the web he navigates the news in a non-linear way, according to his own selection.

Also in the portals, he can make a registration and select which types of content he wants to receive, according to his profile.

Continuous update

The printed newspaper goes to the printing press at night to be distributed the next morning; in this way, can not contemplate the news that happens, for example, after 10 pm. On the other hand, the online newspaper can be updated continuously, bringing what’s new at first hand. The ease of feeding the web makes readers aware of the latest facts almost instantaneously.


The internet, with its wealth of search engines, forms an immense database that provides quick access to multiple historical and journalistic archives.

(At the end of this post we will provide an infographic with the characteristics of online journalism mentioned above).

Construction of the text in practice

All of these features are deeply intertwined. Let’s see how they work in practice, for example, in the writing of a news about the dam break in Brumadinho (MG).

The news is constantly updated as new information on the number of victims, calculations of environmental damage, judicial and governmental decisions (characteristic of continuous updating) arise.

In the article, there is an infographic that shows how the dam operated (multimedia) and, therefore, there is a hyperlink that leads to a technical explanation about the operation of a mining dam that uses the upstream (hypertext) method.

The same story mentions a similar tragedy that occurred three years ago, and in this part of the text there is another hyperlink that opens the news about the disaster of Mariana (MG) – here we see hypertext and memory.

The reader has the option to select this link and deepen their knowledge according to their interest (personalization). Readers can comment, share and rate with likes and dislikes (interactivity).

Journalistic writing techniques for web

In whatever medium, good journalism (accuracy in writing and proper writing) must be maintained. In another post, we have already shown how the journalistic text works.

As Professor Ramón Salaverría (University of Navarra, Spain), author of the book Redacción jornalista en internet (Eunsa, 2005), the style of the journalistic text does not change, what changes in cyberjournalism is the structure of the text.

It is often said that the text of online journalism is halfway between print and TV. It is explanatory, but more concise than the print; presents the colloquiality of TV and radio, however, in more detail.

Particularities of the structure

The big difference now is that the traditional and unitary text is replaced by a “fragmented” text. That is, the news is broken in booms, boxes, inclusion of links and other media (as we saw in the example of the news about the Brumadinho disaster).

There is also no restriction of space and time as in other means. TV and radio fight against the minutes; just as the print is limited to the number of lines on the page. This freedom of the web brings infinite possibilities to contextualize the subject and to deepen the subject.

The good lead remains fundamental!

Most readers do not read the text completely and often change sites already at the beginning of the text. Therefore, it is fundamental to contextualize the information and to know how to rank what is the most important of the news: always start writing with the most relevant aspect. The first paragraph should correspond to the journalistic lead, which answers the questions: what, who, where and when.

The new pyramid

In a previous post, we explained the technique of the inverted pyramid used in print journalism, in which the news is written in descending order: from the most important information to the least important.

This logic of printed journalism makes no more sense for online journalism, according to Maura Oliveira Martins, author of the book Journalist Profession – a guide to live news in the next decade (Intersaberes, 2018): “Because web space is unlimited – especially in relation to the very limited space of the print – to restrict itself to the traditional technique would be to stop making use of the potentialities brought by cyberspace. “

In order to explain the new context, João Canavilhas, a researcher who studies the journalistic web narrative, from the University of Beira Interior in Portugal, proposes the lying pyramid.

In this case, the pyramid evolves at different levels of reading, starting with the most current and important information, going to the levels of greater complexity and deepening of the content.

Base unit: lead information, answering the basic questions (what, when, who and where).

Level of explanation: answers the following lead questions, ie: how and why. It presents more information and also the speech of experts who bring a deeper understanding of the fact.

Contextual level: Adds more information to multimedia formats such as video, audio, or graphics.

Level of exploitation: uses the hypertext to link the news to external files, such as reports related to the topic, useful links, legislation, state pages where complaints can be made …

Construction of the text in practice

Imagine news about a building collapsing. The first paragraph, the base unit, should present the basic information: which building collapsed, when, where, and information about the victims.

The second paragraph corresponds to the level of explanation. The reader needs to understand how it happened and what the causes were. Here we can add the speech of firemen, engineers, architects … And also the story of survivors.

Soon, the level of contextualization begins, in which the news is enriched with multimedia formats: photos or some video that captures the moment the building collapsed. It is possible to put an art, for example, a three-dimensional illustration that shows the architecture of the building and how it happened the collapse.

Finally, the level of exploitation corresponding to the last part of the text, which will provide links to useful sites, such as the Civil Defense and also links to other archive reports of buildings that also collapsed.

The following is the infographic we promise with the main features of online journalism:

Did you like to know the latest in journalistic production? If you also produce texts – online or print – and need help or review, we have a specialized team here in the Written World. Contact us or use our online quote tool.

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