The DNA for web journalism

Jim Brady

“It’s NOT like Field of Dreams: If you Build it, they will come.” In fact, it’s quite the opposite, according to Jim Brady, former Washingtonpost.com editor. In this day and age, reporters have to build it, sell it, and spread it to make it in the world of online journalism.

Brady saw the age of the Internet come before most of his print colleagues. He started at The Post as a sports editor in 1996, but he decided to move towards a more internet-based media, AOL, three years later. He will say, however, that The Post had the right idea launching their Web site as early as 1996.

“Back then, newspapers didn’t care about the web,” he said, also adding that many print journalists resisted the change to multimedia. Today, print journalists have to embrace the web medium if they want to be versative in the job market.

By 2004, he says, The Post caught up to speed and was among the first to include interactive media. Readers could post comments and writers starting featuring their own blogs. He says the most important quality a paper can have is its willingness to try new things.

“We were very experiemental,” he said in regards to the addition of interactive media. Nowadays, the ability to comment and write is vital to the site’s success. Basically, comments=loyalty, he explained.

The web is a meritocracy, meaning you will succeed if you give people what they want to see. If you adapt to the “web DNA,” people will view you as their go-to source for information. Because people usually go to the web for a specific search rather than general interest, this concept is vital to understand.

He stressed the importance of entrepreneurship and the business side of journalism that comes with creating your own Web site. He sees hope mostly in the mobile medium rather than in online classified ads.

The money comes from the products a) convenience and b) ability to give you information before anybody else.

Brady says he’s tired of evangelizing the importance of online journalism. By now, we all need to implement it and take the risks, he said.

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