The complexity of online media means that there has never been more to inspect.
Chapter 6 of Brian Carroll’s Writing for Digital Media discusses the ins and outs of online editing. He points out that previous to the digital age, the composition of print media (newspapers and magazines) fell largely to several different groups. First, there were writers and the layout designers who produced the content and appearance of the page, and then the editors and copyeditors would come behind and review the designs and copy respectively. These groups that came together to produce the final product were specialized and focused on their particular area.
However, the development of digital media has blurred those lines. All of these jobs have been wrapped into one, that of the web editor. A web editor must be able to not only write and edit copy, but also design layouts and make sure the design is consistent and aesthetically pleasing. In addition, online editing requires attention to detail in both the broad aspects of web design such as navigation and style and the minute details like lines and hyphenation. Even within the written content, the organization and logic of the text must be verified as well as the spelling of individual words.
But the innovation that the digital sphere provides has brought the unlimited possibilities of multimedia to the forefront of communication, which adds a whole new dimension to online editing. Web editors must also determine what forms of media would be most effective in communicating a message and creating an interactive experience for the reader.
One of the more important decisions an online editor makes is the medium or media through which to tell a story.
Carroll points out that if the use of multimedia does not incorporate different mediums that a TV report uses, for example, then the multimedia is not being employed to its fullest. Instead of only combining video and audio, several other mediums that can be used include: personal testimonials, interactive maps, quizzes, and lists of useful links.
Lastly, Carroll points out the importance of rapid adaptability. Not only is the role of an editor changing, but so are the digital technologies that are available. In the world of digital media, the web editor must be prepared for anything.