The Future of News

Ryan Thornburg

Why Journalists Need to Know HTML

I’ve written in a previous post that journalism students should be taught HTML as a way of helping them understand the concept of separating content from formatting. But I ran in to another perfect example today of why even journalists who are working in a CMS and working primarily with text need to know some basic HTML.

A student in one of my classes was posting her story to WordPress, but some of the paragraph alignments were out of whack and we couldn’t figure out why.

She was using the content management system’s visual editor, so everything looked fine and some of the familiar alignment buttons in the toolbar weren’t fixing the problem like we expected. We clicked over to the HTML tab and there, staring us in the face, was the nefarious Word version of HTML.

Now, there are easy ways to fix this without ever touching the code. But what if you get stuck? These tools are still new enough that sometimes you simply have to get under the hood and clean things up.

You don’t want to have to call tech support to clean up bad HTML <p> tags, right? No journalist — fiercely independent, all — would, or should.

With these links — all written for journalists — you can pick up the basics of Web publishing with HTML, FTP and CSS in about an hour.

Written by Ryan Thornburg

February 20, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Posted in Top Menu

Tagged with , ,

One Response

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  1. Thanks for stressing a hands on approach to technology.
    This is really becoming important. The future of news may not include a well-staffed IT department. Also, learning a little CSS and php wouldn’t hurt.

    Kirk Ross

    March 10, 2009 at 10:43 pm


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