Communication Department

  Ten Commandments for Writing Website News

By Gerry Chudleigh, Communication Director, Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists 

So Moses went down to the people and told them, “You have been delivered from slavery to newspaper editors. From now on you are free to publish on your websites anything you want, even if it is of no interest to anyone, is poorly written, and misrepresents the church. But see that you do it not.”     

 

 

 

1) You shall not publish copyrighted materials without permission, even if you give full credit to the writer and to the publisher who paid the writer. Publishing without permission is a violation of federal and international copyright laws.

 

 

 

2) You shall not advertise products for sale. Exception: if a school or church group sells a product to raise money for a project, announce that in a news story, but direct readers to another place to learn about the product and how to purchase it.

 

  

 

3) You shall not put all your news in the “Abstract” or “Description.” Those are only teasers. The full story goes in the story box.

 

 

 

4) You shall not leave the story box empty. Readers will feel insulted if they click on a link and find nothing. Their opinions of the church leaders’ intelligence will suffer.

 

 

 

5) You shall not shout at the readers. Do not put all your story in upper case, bold or large font. There are two or three fonts in newspaper stories for the headlines, subheads and text. Do likewise.

 

 

 

6) You shall not show off your design talents. As the old-time banjo plucker, Pete Seeger, said of Earl Scruggs, the inventor of bluegrass picking, “I wish I had the ability to pick like Earl, and the good sense not to.” Your editor enables you to underline, highlight, use fancy fonts, colors, align center, etc. Don’t. Keep it clean and uncluttered to make it more readable. 

 

 

 

7) You shall not share every little announcement with other churches. They may like to read about your special events, but if they see too many announcements, such as that the time of your next board meeting has changed, they will cancel your news feed.

 

 

 

8) You shall not write book titles for headlines. Headlines include a subject and a verb. Ex. Use "Church Family Reunites for Baptism", instead of "The Baptism".

 

 

 

9) You shall not insert pictures that are too small. They will look bad when resized.

 

 

 

10) You shall not go on and on. The majority of Web visitors never scroll down. People go to websites to get information quickly, not to read the great American novel.