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Public Sample of the
Online Ministries Community Blog

Apr 11

Minimal Editorial Skills Needed For A Church Webmaster To Thrive

Posted by Bill Anderton

In yesterday’s blog posting, I discussed organizing an online ministry team around a traditional publication model. Today, I’m going to drill down into the functions of the editorial department and the department's leader: the webmaster.

webmaster_400w.jpgPlease note that a webmaster might perform additional functions in other departments too, like production and circulation. However, today, I’m only going to discuss the editorial-department functions. Also, in this posting, I will only discuss entry-level skills for a webmaster or the minimum skills need to do well in the position.

Ideally, webmasters will come into their positions with all of these skills and perhaps more. However, in the real world, often church volunteers will arrive in their positions without a full complement of these skill or some skills not fully developed. In these cases, entry-level webmasters must learn through on-the-job training. This is certainly possible but it does put the entry-level volunteer under a certain amount of stress to learn these skills as quickly as possible. It is important that the church support webmasters during their learning phase.

Information Engineering Skills

A minimally functional webmaster must be able to organize the content of a website into appropriate sections and build an appropriate taxonomy for a website.

The webmaster must then be able to take the resulting taxonomy and translate it into various navigation methods that will be used in the site.

Executive Editor Skills

The first editorial skills that a webmaster should possess are analogous to an Executive Editor. Much of the responsibilities of being a webmaster involve certain skills typical of journalists who make decisions about what content and stories should appear in the website in order to meet the grand strategic goals of the publisher. Also the webmaster will make decisions about the placement of stories within the website: what stories should be more prominently featured over other stories, how stories should be rotated in the story’s lifecycle, improving content of items submitted for publication, etc. Also, decisions about how stories are linked into both pages and navigation components are closely related to other editorial skills.

Even entry-level webmasters should be capable of making these types of decisions.

A minimally functional webmaster must be able to recruit other people to contribute content for the website (copy, photos, illustrations, etc.), evaluate their capabilities and skills and their suitability for certain specific assignments.

A minimally functional webmaster should be able to make assignments to produce content, provide supervision and guidance of the person given the content develop assignment and manage the process of the assignment’s completion and submission to the website for publication.

Web Developmental Editing/Authoring

Web Developmental Editing/Authoring is the process by which content is proactively developed to meet the publishing objectives of the website. It includes the consultation before the writing begins. The developmental editor may help plan the organization, features, and other aspects of the work, and prepare developmental reviews or analyses.

Duties often include the following:

  • Suggesting formats to communicate the message
  • Rewriting and restructuring the text to fit the format
  • Moving entire paragraphs and sentences to improve flow
  • Ensuring consistent structure by adding or deleting headings
  • Identifying gaps in content, and supplying or describing the needed copy, so the author can resolve them
  • Deleting content that is outdated or that does not achieve the desired publishing focus or tone
  • Developing an effective system for handling trademarks and notes

Developmental editing/authoring may also involve altering the content to meet the recommendations of reviewers and determining the style and general content of the illustrations and/or diagrams.

Webmasters should also be able to author and complete a story from scratch if needed.

Copy Selection and Repurposing

Webmasters in churches and ministries are often presented with copy (text) from other sources such as newsletters, bulletins, press releases and other sources. Webmasters must be able to select the most pertinent stories to include into the website and rewrite the copy as needed so it can be repurposed for use in the website.

Skilled webmasters have “news sense” to help them pick the best stories that further the publishing objectives of the website.

Headline Writing

Webmasters must be proficient in writing headlines for the stories included in the website. Submitted stories often are furnished without headline or the headline provided can be greatly improved upon to make the story fit the publishing objectives and policies of the website.

Headline-writing skills are invaluable to a webmaster.

Placement Determination

Deciding which story to feature more prominently than others is an important skill for a webmaster. Again, as in other cases, “news sense” plays an important role.

Copyediting Skills

Copyediting is the editorial work that an editor does to make changes and improvements to a text manuscript before it is published in a web page. The text ("copy" as a noun) is often provided to the webmaster in imperfect form, possibly from a writer without much writing skills or experience. Also, copy is often provided by multiple writers, each their own writing style and inconsistent with each other.

Copyediting is done prior to work of proofreaders, to improve or enhance the copy prior to its publication.

The goals of the copyediting process are to make the copy:

  • Clear
  • Correct
  • Concise
  • Comprehensible
  • Consistent

The copyeditor is expected to ensure that the text flows, that it is sensible, fair, and accurate, and that it will provoke no legal problems for the publisher.

Typically, copyediting involves correcting spelling, punctuation, grammar, math, terminology/jargon and semantics; ensuring that the copy adheres to the selected house style (such as the AP Stylebook or the Chicago Book of Style); and adding headlines and standardized headers, footers, etc.

Copyeditors can also reduce redundancy of wording or add simpler words or phrases. A copyeditor may abridge a text, by "cutting" and "trimming" it, to reduce its length to fit publishing limits or to improve its meaning. This usually requires omitting parts of the text and rewriting (abridging) the remainder to bridge the gaps created by the omission.

Photo/Illustration Selection

Often, webmasters receive multiple pictures and/or illustrations for a story. Selecting the most impactful picture to be featured from the available lot can greatly enhance the story.

Also, selecting photos or illustrations from stock photo sources that will enhance the story is very important.

Image Editing Skills

Like text, images are often furnished to the webmaster in less than ideal form. An entry-level webmaster must be able to alter the supplied images to work within the web page being built.

Image editing encompasses the processes of altering images by deliberate manipulation to enhance and transform images to make them suitable for the use on web pages.

Typical manipulations include:

  • Cropping an Image - Cropping creates a new image by selecting a desired rectangular portion from the image being cropped. The unwanted part of the image is discarded. A primary reason for cropping is to improve the image composition in the new image.
  • Image Size Alteration - Resizing images, in a process often called image scaling, makes images larger, or smaller. High image resolution cameras can produce large images which are often reduced in size for Internet use.
  • Noise Removal - Noise removal uses an image editor programs and its featured algorithms to add or remove noise in an image. JPEG artifacts can be removed; dust and scratches can be removed and an image can be de-speckled. Noise tends to invade images when pictures are taken in low light settings.
  • Removal of Unwanted Elements - Occasionally, the original image furnished for use on a web page may have an unwanted element in the picture that cannot be cropped out of the area of the image to be published. Image editing can remove unwanted branches, etc, using a "clone" tool. Removing these distracting elements draws focus to the subject, improving overall composition.
  • Image orientation - Often, pictures supplied to an entry-level webmaster will need to be rotated in some direction and to some degree. Mirror images may need to be created and images can be horizontally flipped or vertically flopped. A small rotation of several degrees is often enough to level the horizon, correct verticality (of a building, for example), or both. Rotated images usually require cropping afterwards, in order to remove the resulting gaps at the image edges.
  • Sharpening and Softening Images - The images furnished to use in a web page may need to be sharpened or blurred in a number of ways, such as unsharp masking or deconvolution. Portraits often appear more pleasing when selectively softened (particularly the skin and the background) to better make the subject stand out.
  • Selecting and Merging of Images  - Composite images many need to be made by merging two or more individual images into a single file. The orientation and placement of each image be able to be controlled.
  • Contrast Change and Brightening - Photos taken by amateur photographers in available light will often need enhancement before being published. Change the contrast of images and brightening or darkening the image is common.
  • Color Adjustments - Photo also often need color adjustments. The color of images can be altered in a variety of ways. Colors can be faded in and out, and tones can be changed using curves or other tools. The color balance can be improved, which is important if the picture was shot with a camera that with an incorrectly adjusted white balance.

Category: (04-13) April 2013   Tag:

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