Here's an example of a crowdsourced story that I'm particularly proud of, with some writing-for-the-web tips added in along the way.
Large chunks of text hurt!
This post starts with a web-writing tip. Notice how I've got all these subheds? Subheds make reading online easier for the reader to read and digest. Use 'em — ya got the space, right? Not exactly like you have to worry about fitting the page.
Engage in Facebook and they shall come
So when they do ask, we pay attention and we try to answer.
On July 20, a reader used our Facebook wall to post this: "Any progress on finding out why there is a rather useless light south of waldon but no desperately needed light at waldon and M24?"
Check out the Facebook exchange that kick-started the story.
My favorite part, of course, was the nice compliment from reader Robert Vaughan (Thanks, Robert!) attached here as a jpeg.
All that work, why not a write a story?
It was pretty simple to send off an email to one of my contacts and get Barb some answers.
Just before I walked out the door, my MDOT contact emailed me back with the last answer — that a signal request was made by the township years ago and denied, and that future requests should also come from the township.
That sparked another question for me — what does the township think?
And another question — so just how does an intersection qualify for a signal?
I called Orion and emailed MDOT. I didn't get any immediate responses, but wrote the story with the most up to date information that I had.
I used that story to ask for even more opinions, posted the link to Facebook with an additional question and Tweeted the question w/link from both my reporter and The Oakland Press Twitter accounts.
Check out the story, YOU TELL US: Does Waldon Road at M-24 in Orion Township need a signal?
Oh yeah, and I built a Google Map too.
View Waldon Road and M-24 intersection in a larger map
|The final story|
I talked with the Orion Township supervisor.
I did the research on what qualifies an intersection for a signal.
And I heard from people — I heard from my Tweeps, I read the story comments and got even more opinions from Facebook.
I even got an old-fashioned email and an even older-fashioned phone call too! (Click on those links for today's tongue-in-cheek joke)
Finally, I wrapped it all up for one big web story: 'It's dangerous' says Orion Township supervisor of Waldon Road, M-24 intersection
Then, I cut it to hell for print. Ha! Just kidding. But I did do some serious trimming. The web story is nearly 40 inches, the condensed print version is 20 inches but I was very considerate in my cutting.
Prepped for print
The print version included a lot of paraphrasing to get it shorter, but I don't think there are any big holes in it.
We're letting print readers know that our website is host to an expanded version of the story, and we're using a QR code that will take them right to it.
Writing for the web
Here's some things to note about the final story, 'It's dangerous' says Orion Township supervisor of Waldon Road, M-24 intersection
• Bullet point lists are easier to read and digest online. It's been proven that readers like them, so use them. I didn't even list all the warrants for the print version, but online, every warrant sticks out as a bullet point.
• Lots of links — from previous stories to the Facebook conversation to big nouns mentioned, like MDOT or Orion Township, and of course, to the links I used while researching the article.
• Subheds — again, they make reading easier. Web story has a bunch of subheds, print story has none.
• Multi-media — It might just be a Google map, but that's a step in the right direction.