What’s the Difference Between a Journalist, a Copywriter, and an Author? (And Why it’s Important to Know in the Online Era)

 

This is a question commonly asked but rarer is an answer provided. ‘What is the difference?’ is a question many clients can have when looking to hire, and it is also something many new writers ponder when starting out. Sure, the roles of a journalist, copywriter, and author all involve writing, but the way in which their daily work is approached is very different. Especially in the online age.  

In the era of the Google search engine it’s not news clarity has often come at expense of accessibility. This is true for all parties in the writing business, from the creator, to the publisher, to the distributor. This can be complicated even more of by the rise of eCommerce and online business which makes it possible for someone to be a creator, publisher, and distributor all in one (themselves separate roles, but best discussed in a future article). Wearing many hats is no bad thing. In fact, there are strong arguments to be made for professionals to hold a diverse skill set in the era of disruption.

Where it’s complicated is when these roles are confused. This means broader access to professionals and skills doesn’t deliver greater productivity Click to continue reading

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The Biggest Week in Australian Journalism History? 3 Stories that Tested Principles of Privacy, ‘Off the Record’ and Defamation

By any measure the week prior was a big one for journalism in Australia. Three major stories broke in which the journalists themselves became the story. While Pulitzer Prizes exist for a reason to recognise outstanding journalism, generally speaking, notable episodes prior have shown it is not ideal when the journalists themselves become the story.

That’s why the emergence of three major stories in one week has been so notable. Each one independent on the other, but sharing in common a controversy surrounding whether the stories were ‘fair and free’ in their publication, or instead crossed the bounds of good practice.

Let’s look now at them one by one, see whether the ‘old rules’ of journalism still apply, and what lessons emerge new and upcoming journalists may glean from them.

 

Mia Freedman, Mammamia, and Roxane Gay

 

The Issue: Most Australian shall recognise Mia Freedman’s name. For readers abroad, Mia Freedman is a prominent Australian editor who chiefly presides over the Mamamia empire, while also serving as a media personality and commentator.

Freedman’s was all set to interview Roxane Gay, the American author visiting Australian to promote Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body. Within it, Gay has documented her … Click to continue reading

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Why Hire a Writer Anyway? The Difference between Communicating and Writing

When someone has hired a writer it is pretty straightforward. ‘Hi, with the contract now signed you can begin! Here’s the content outline in full, and I’ll look forward to hearing from you soon’. All is simple and easy when you’ve a brief in-hand like this. That is the stage when all is certain surrounding the needs of a project, but it is the period beforehand that this article will address.

One of the common questions this author gets asked in his daily work his ‘do I really need to hire a professional writer for this project (website landing page, blog, press release etc. etc)? Usually, but not always, this is done by clients who are seeking this author out for something beyond writing, such as for graphic design work, website building, or media relations, who may not yet know this author is also a journalist and ghostwriter – and so could find this question offensive!

Instead of taking offence though, this writer recognises there is indeed a question of value here. Maintaining a number of business interests on the side in tandem to his 9-5 day job, the need to meet a budget, and ensure money spent brings a … Click to continue reading

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The Rise of Fake News Reinvigorates Subscription Model Debate

 

Since inception subscription models for newspapers have been a hard sell. It is also not hard to see why. Sure, there is the question of quality, of brand loyalty, and even incidental spending – a main masthead in the author’s hometown of Melbourne currently campaigns on subscription for just 50c (USD 38c) a day – but the essential challenge to this has been ‘why would I buy access to news when I can get it for free?’

 

In an effort to win subscriptions many newspapers have been receptive to a freemium model. From the Age in Melbourne all the way across the world to the New York Times, many newspapers have given readers a form of free access. This may be 1 article a day (reset every 24 hours), all the way up to 30 articles a month (not reset daily but merely capped at 30), and beyond.

 

While there are those who’ll happy pay for news, or feel incentivised by the promise of new and bonus content, when online news was free for so long, the idea of now needing to pay for it is still something many readers would find unpalatable. The past year has Click to continue reading

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Ghostwriter Ethics: A Quiet Word on Quiet Work for New Writers

Dependent on the sort of company you keep someone hearing you’re a ghostwriter can be met with a variety of responses. Some understand it and know it well off the bat (often other writers). Some have heard of the term but little beyond it. Some even think there’s something sinister about it. Ghostwriting is something of a misunderstood field, and this contributes to the ethics around it.

Yes, ethics. Unless you’re right now in a philosophy department of a university and all set to publish a revelatory thesis – its hard to always make that word sound thrilling. But it is functional. Good ethics can keep you in the clear of trouble, and ethics do indeed apply to being a ghostwriter. For new writers it can be hard to navigate the arena easily with so many unwritten rules.

So, rather than this being any sort of ghostwriter’s public confession (for this writer is bound by ethics and confidentiality agreements) it is instead a outline of a couple of important conventions for those new to the field. May it help a new writer start their career, and avoid the pitfalls throughout.

Click to continue reading
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The Sensory Overload of Content Promotion: How to Navigate ‘the Noise’ of Online

 

Who doesn’t love a good startup? A niche product? A self-funded podcast that sets the world afire? This is all good stuff, and in the era in which we live no longer does a gatekeeper at a publisher’s office or a producer at a local TV station exclusively determine whether the product (or service) you have will sell.

The problem is actually getting it out there, and getting some attention. This is especially so when the choices are not limited, but too often overabundant. For those aspiring to a secret technique or ‘but wait there’s more’ pitch – this article is unlikely to hit the spot.

Instead, for those readers who are trying to do something with a product or service online – yet feel overwhelmed by all the areas you can go through in eCommerce (or feel you need expand your options but don’t know where to start); there are ways to navigate the problems practically.

For those that have arrived here unsure of where to start, perhaps stumbling in the middle, or just about at their wits’ end when it comes to trying to get their product some traction; may the following serve as useful considerations.Click to continue reading

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A Question of Timing: When will Smartwatches be Essential?

Talking watches, trips to Mars, and flying cars. While we’re not quite yet in the era of technology the Jetson’s offered, the world in 2016 is making solid inroads when it comes a renewed space program, the next ‘big leap’ in cars, and in the  smartwatch sphere.

This is illustrated with the latest launch of the Apple Watch 2. Recent years have seen the Cupertino tech company embattled as it seeks to make a decisive shift from the ‘post-post-Steve Jobs’ era.

When the Apple Watch first launched it was met with a bit of bemusement, as a new product line did not come with the same earth shattering angle as products prior. It also set the tone in the minds of many about the company’s overall direction.

Though many gave new Apple CEO Tim Cook a ‘grace period’ once he took the helm of the company, many felt the Apple Watch wasn’t just underwhelming but indicative of a new bland era at Apple.

These criticisms are not uniformly fair, as not only have Apple’s competitors caught on to their winning approach and caught up in market share. No less though, for better or worse Apple remains the flag bearer … Click to continue reading

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