No excuses for less than excellent execution of three basic e-news components
When e-news sites are scored during Editorial Solutions, Inc. consulting assignments, allowances might be made for heavy workloads due to daily frequency or lack of adequate staff support. But if it comes to evaluating basics, there are no excuses for earning minimum scores on factors such as Fog Index, at least one solid long-form article per issue or introductory story-telling value. Nevertheless, many sites miss the boat, leaving them much more vulnerable when exposed to opposition’s competitive analysis superiority claims. Here is a quick refresher on three basic practices you probably could improve immediately.
- Foggy writing. Fog Index is a well-established readability measure I rely on when making judgments about editorial pace. A Fog Index grade level for a passage of text is derived by calculating average sentence length (ASL) plus percentage of “hard” words (generally three syllables or more) — HWP. Adding ASL and HWP, then multiplying by 0.4, produces a grade level. The desired grade level range is 10-12. For my studies, I stretch the grade level range to 10-12.5. Articles falling within that range earn a full score of ten points. Articles fogging out at 16 or higher earn zero points.
- Evidence of depth. If article delivery relies primarily on 200-400-word rewrites of PR announcements, you’ll rarely be able to offer insight afforded by, say, 750-1200 words. Some staffed- up sites develop several long-form articles every day. But if that’s beyond you, at least your opening article should clearly reflect in-depth enterprise reporting as well as exclusivity. When my eight-factor e- news scoring system is applied during annual studies, in-depth coverage usually stands out in a crowd of lesser efforts.
- Fast-paced lede. Introductory paragraph efficiency reflects number of words used before arriving at the “take-away” value or reader benefit. The fewer the words used, the better. An article reaching the ikey point within ten words (shown as -10 on my scoring form) earns a full ten-point valuation. The key pitfall that produces a zero grade is “source first, news second” lede format. This format often is used in PR announcements. Unfortunately, many editors allow this sequence to stand because time doesn’t seem to allow “news first/source later” reconstruction.