An example of good online news writing

A recent article carried by  Evansville Courier & Press on a new assisted-living home caught my eyes as a good example of online writing:

1. Be succinct. Remove non-essential adjectives and adverbs; keep the subject-verb-object sentence structure. Use short paragraphs, one idea per paragraph. NOTE that I do not necessarily recommend one-sentence-per-paragraph style in this article though.

2. Separate background information from the story copy. In this article, the “facts about the old” assisted-living home is contained in a sidebar and, as a common online writing practice, presented in a bulleted list.

3. The inverted-pyramid style in print writing still holds true in the online copies, if not all the more important. The reason is simple: online readers are even more impatient than print readers.

4. A less obvious point about this article is being specific in the headline. The headline is where search engines such as Google look at when an online user is searching for relevant information. This article has a headline of “New assisted-living home will be built on Knights of Columbus property.” A specific headline, like this one, is more likely to be presented to people googling for information about “assisted-living home” or “Knights of Columbus.” In contrary, a more print-like headline, such as ” A New Destiny for an Old Landmark,” is less likely to reach people interested in the information we just mentioned.

5. The writing of this article still have room for improvement though. The text copy is a bit long: it’s four pages down, on my 1280*800 display, to the end of the article. To better keep the attention of readers, the writer better use two or three subheadings in the copy. Be aware that subheading is also a typical online writing tip.

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About Mu Lin

Dr. Mu Lin is a digital journalism professional and educator in New Jersey, United States. Dr. Lin manages an online marketing company. He also manages MulinBlog Online J-School (, a free online journalism training program, which offers courses such as Audio Slideshow Storytelling; Introduction to Social Media Marketing; Writing for the Web; Google Mapping for Communicators; Introduction to Data Visualization; Introduction to Web Metrics and Google Analytics.
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