Here’s a quick run through of the process I go through to write news articles for various web sites on the Internet. This article isn’t a resource to find news writer jobs, a quick Google search for “online news writer jobs,” should generate those results for you, if that is what you are after.
Pulling all news sources together
There are several ways in which I find news to report on, the primary one involves pulling RSS feeds together and subscribing to them through Feedly. Organizing the feeds by category will allow focus in certain sectors. A miscellaneous category is also helpful for feeds that contain a wide variety of news. In the past I would have recommended Google Reader but since it is being closed by Google, Feedly is a great alternative for both a web-based and mobile reader. If you are using Google Reader currently and want to switch to Feedly all you have to do is login to your Google Account from the Feedly web site and it will synch your Google Reader feeds and settings across.
Here are some ideas for news sources:
1) Press Release web sites – To start with, subscribing to a variety of press release web sites will provide you with a plethora of news. This can also help you understand better how to write news properly as you will see lots that are just advertising fabricated as news (so you can avoid that). You can subscribe to individual categories, “hot” news, or even all news. PRWeb, and PR Newswire are great places to start. Just locate the directory of releases and look for the “feed” and copy the feed URLs into Feedly.
2) Manufacturer web sites – Many manufacturers in the industry you are reporting on will have blogs that they submit news to. Subscribing to the feeds of those blogs will keep you in touch with what’s happening with these companies, in terms of new product releases, mergers, etc. that you can report on.
3) Niche news sites – Many web sites provide industry specific news, and are often the source of the news. The staff at these web sites go to trade shows and industry related events and provide as a great source for news to report on.
4) Global news sites – Large sites like Reuters.com and Foxnews.com provide as a great source for global news. Subscribing to individual category feeds will provide you with daily news.
5) Google news search feeds – You can use this approach manually or automated (with feeds). For this approach, you visit news.google.com and search for industry related keywords to see the “latest” articles that made the news. Near the bottom will be a feed URL that can be brought into Google Reader to follow regularly without having to manually enter the search term each time.
6) Industry forums and video – Many individuals create news in forums and videos daily, often without realizing it. Visiting and subscribing to the feeds at industry forums, or individuals who post content related to the industry you seek news for, can bring up some interesting content to report on. In this case, you would essentially be the “creator” of the news and not reporting on existing news like with the other methods. It’s a more unique approach with added value for your web site, or your client’s web site. As an example, I found a forum of a woman talking about her success with blood sugar levels and diabetes after switching to a vegan diet. I had my writer source that forum post in a news article she wrote called: Diabetes sufferer switched to vegan diet, blood sugar stabilized after 10 days
Citations and sources
As a “cover your butt” precaution and out of respect, it’s important to cite the sources of your findings. Many sites require it, others disallow it. There are several ways to site sources, and some sites have specific rules about how to do it for consistency. Here’s a web site that aims at a standardized way of “honoring the creative and intellectual labor of information discovery by making attribution consistent and codified.”
Online news writers and reporters aren’t that difficult to come by if a web site owner knows where to look. Knowing that, it is important to stand out from the crowd. Including images (unique or public domain), basic HTML (or BBCode), and embedding videos (or other multimedia) when relevant might be some “extras” you want to offer your client. Also, being a trusted publisher (or putting content to draft) may be a bonus in your favor. It’s important to hire an editor or be diligent about your editing.
Editing is easiest when you write the content in a plain text editor, then paste into a browser based CMS afterwards. Writing in plain text avoids “funky” characters, and pasting in a web browser multi-line text box should point out any spelling errors, plus provide an accurate word count. And always follow title, subtitle, tag, etc. formatting rules provided by the client. Subscribe to the site you publish to as well in an effort to avoid overlapping content.