Complementary Content on the Web

Anyone who has taken a journalism class knows about writing in inverted pyramid style – most important facts at the top, with the rest of the information in descending order of importance. Conventional wisdom says that’s how to write for the web also.

So I was fascinated to find that a professor at the Missouri School of Journalism has gone in a different direction when assessing effective web content. Kevin Wise, an assistant professor of strategic communication, wants to understand how people process information they get from combined media. What happens when you add video to a web article, as so many news organizations do?

He found that narrative writing, which has more of a storytelling quality to it than the list-the-facts inverted pyramid style, worked better in tandem with video. People recalled more information when reading a narrative story. “It’s more vivid, and puts things in a sequential order that makes the transition to video easier on the reader, cognitively speaking,” Wise said.

This is just one study, and of course much web content still should be concise, with the most important facts at the top. And Wise is looking at this so that news organizations can deliver their product most effectively. But as more types of content go digital and incorporate videos, his findings are worthwhile for any type of business.