There’s always room for more details on the web

Note: the following is a short essay for One Web Day on how the web has impacted my profession. You can see a video of me reading an abridged version here.

In print, my words had no hope of reaching an audience.
Online, there was always room for my voice.
As a college undergraduate working for The Daily Tar Heel at UNC-Chapel Hill, space was tight to publish stories from the dozens of staffers working each day. But thanks to the paper’s website, space was plentiful to give every qualified story a platform. The web provided assurance that everything staffers wrote could reach an audience, while simultaneously motivating writers to improve their craft.
No matter how far we progress in the communications field, that appeal of the web remains just as strong.
In many ways, the benefits only grow with experience.
A good communicator, be they in journalism, public relations or filmmaking, will produce a volume of quality content that easily eclipses the available space in print. Photographers take hundreds of pictures at an event, filmmakers record hours of footage, advertising campaigns produce dozens of related marketing pieces. In the pre-Internet days, only the absolute cream of the crop could be viewed by the general public.
The Internet blew open the door of in-depth content for those curious about a particular topic, while at the same time empowering those compiling the information. Rather than just post the bare minimum that will fit in print, communicators strive to create as much compelling content as possible, knowing it can have life on the web.
It’s enlivened our consumption of media based upon specific interests. Rather than just hope the latest edition of Slate has a piece by insightful political writer John Dickerson, readers can quickly go back and access all his past stories or tweets. When entertaining sportswriter Bill Simmons hits on a great topic at, he’s not constrained by word counts and can link us to his sports and pop culture inspirations. While fans are waiting for the captivating television show Lost to start a new season, they can go to official sites or fan message boards for new content built around past episodes. When inspiring news columnist Nicholas Kristof posts a compelling piece in the New York Times, readers can check up on his blog or Facebook page to see all the news gathering and the thought processes that went into the writing.
This doesn’t ensure that all content reaches a mass audience, or even that it won’t just be ignored once posted online. But the web provides assurance that nothing of quality need ever remain buried, and that fans of any fictional or non-fictional piece can always dig beneath the surface for more details. No matter how constrained or restricted access to a traditional platform remains for up-and-coming media professionals, they always have a place to share their knowledge and let their talents shine through.

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