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Public Sample of the
Online Ministries Community Blog

The following are the three most recent postings to this community's blog. It is only the blog's abstract. To read the full text of the blog, add comments and discussion and participate in all of the community's features and functions, please register into this community.

Mar 04
2015

How to Write for Web Pages - Part 13 – The Curation of Story Ideas

By Bill Anderton on 3/4/2015 11:41 AM

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Story ideas can be plentiful. However, the resources to develop story ideas into words, pictures and other media ready to place onto a web page are always in short supply. Webmasters never have enough editorial resources to develop everything they wish they could.

As a result, all editorial departments must have a process to select from the many possible story ideas those few that are worthy of using the limited developmental resources. The problem is a classical one of contention for valuable (and often scarce) resources and is similar to the contention for capital or other budget resources. Which set of story ideas will yield the best possible result for the websites’ missions, objections and strategies?

The homily, “getting the most bang for the buck” comes to mind.

The selection process is called curation and judges the relative merits of story ideas to determine if the idea is worthy of investing in the development of the idea into a finished story. One can’t develop everything, so which ideas, if developed, best fulfill our missions, objections and strategies?

Curation should be intentional, not accidental. Curation should be thoughtful, not based on whimsy. Curation is serious business and is worthy of some gravitas not just implementing the first story idea that come to mind or is the next on some list. The more limited a church’s editorial resources, the more thoughtful the curation process has to be.

Curation is not nearly as subjective as you might first think. While some subjective judgment does come into play, there are also plenty of objective criteria one can apply to the curation process.


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Feb 05
2015

How to Write for Web Pages - Part 12 – The Ideation of a Story

By Bill Anderton on 2/5/2015 4:09 PM

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Deciding what to publish on a church website is often a gut-wrenching experience for many web teams, particularly for rookie church webmasters. To some, there never seems to be anything to write that would make an interesting story.

Nothing could be further from the truth of the situation.

Many rookies often don’t realize the number of content opportunities that are within all churches and surrounding them … everyday!

Churches using a journalistic approach to building websites must learn how to identify, appraise and select potential high-quality stories within their churches and around their communities. Webmasters must learn how to pick the best of the story opportunities and development them into great stories for their websites.

Again, as I have often mentioned in this tutorial, websites can use the established editorial analogs used in newspapers and magazines for guidance about how to select story ideas for development. There is no better example of this than if websites adopted the same processes that newspapers and magazines use to find stories to write. If so, webmasters would select stories in an intentional process perfected by the editors printed publications. The same craft that publication editors use to select stories for publication can also select stories for any website.

The process of selecting stories to publish on a church website is one of the most important functions performed by a webmaster and is critical to the website’s success. If the content is king, as the homily goes, the selection of stories for content development is a king-maker, the power behind the throne.

Stories come from story ideas. In the best practices of all successful websites, coming up with story ideas is an intentional process. Sources for story ideas within a church environment can be rich and diverse. Web teams have to be able to recognize potential idea sources and develop them into a steady flow of new content.

Websites' editorial staff collects stories ideas from all sources. In some internal process, all story idea are collected and, typically, formed into lists.

However, all ideas put on lists don’t automatically become stories. The selection of which story ideas to develop and publish derives from curation processes that evaluate the potential of each idea. From a list of collected story ideas, the editorial team of the website curates the ideas to select those for development. The curation process separates wheat from the chaff. The curation process allows the always limited resources that can develop ideas into stories to be expended only on the best ideas. The curation process isn’t as subjective as one might initially suppose. There are some widely-accepted objective criteria the editorial team can use to curate story ideas objectively. While one typically uses a certain amount of subjective judgment, stories should always be intelligently curated with sound journalistic criteria.

The stories ideas selected for development in the curation process are then ready for assignment. Once an idea is curated, the editorial team of a website doesn’t assign the story without first preparing the idea for the writer-reporter. In the assignment preparation phase, the editorial staff prepares a set of “givens” for the assignment and passes them along to the writer. The “givens” provide any available background materials as well as insight into the expectations of the editorial team. The givens of an assignment serve to get writers-reporters off to a good start as well as make the writers-reporters aware of the editors’ objectives for the story.

Next, the editorial staff gives the assignment package to writers-reporters or photographers for development of the idea into a story.

Taken together, all of these processes are the ideation phase of a story in the overall editorial lifecycle. In this installment of the tutorial, I will write about the entire ideation phase and how to use it effectively.


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Aug 22
2014

How to Write for Web Pages - Part 11 – The Lifecycle of a Story

By Bill Anderton on 8/22/2014 2:40 AM

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In previous installments of this tutorial, I have written about various phases of content development and how the story moves through pages to it completion.

In this installment, I am writing about the entire lifecycle of a story and where each phase and process fit a complete birth-to-death model.

I have written about some of this material has been discussed elsewhere in this tutorial, with pieces often provided in depth. However, I am going to summarize the phases and process here to make it easy to see the whole lifecycle within one installment.

I believe understanding of the entire lifecycle model for content will help writer-reporters better understand the web publishing process. Most writer-reporters only work on the content creation phase of the lifecycle and have no visibility into what is happening beyond the submission of the completed manuscript.

In this installment of the tutorial, I will describe a conceptual model of the lifecycle and describe each of the major phases of the lifecycle and the processes contains in each phase.


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Aug 16
2014

How to Write for Web Pages - Part 10 - The Pagination of a Story

By Bill Anderton on 8/16/2014 12:39 AM

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In the previous installment of this tutorial, I have written about the processes for developing a story for publication on the website. The story is written by one writer working as a solo writer-reporter or two or more people working as a collaborative team. The resulting work-product is a finished manuscript that is ready for publication.

Placing a story on a web page is a key part of the web publishing process but the story itself isn’t the sole content component on a web page. The story is only one component of a web page, albeit the most-significant component, but here are others too.

In this tutorial, I’m going to define the term “pagination” as the process of making a unit of content called “a web page” and the placement of all of the content components that makeup the page. Pagination is also about the synergy that results from the interworkings of the various components.

It will help writers-editors to know how their stories will work with the other elements of the page and other pages within the website.

In this installment of the tutorial, I will write about the components of the web page and how the pieces fit together.


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Aug 13
2014

How to Write for Web Pages - Part 9 - Write for Your Calendar

By Bill Anderton on 8/13/2014 8:07 PM

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In the previous installments of this tutorial, I have written about the techniques best-practices of writing and the editorial process of that put stories onto web pages.

People typically think of writing only in the context of developing traditional web pages.

However, there are other ways that you can harness the ability to write in order to accrue additional benefits for your church.

In this installment, I will be writing about an almost totally overlooked area of church websites that offer great opportunities for writing: writing for your calendar!


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