Writing well online: a Mashable example

On occasion, I hear someone ask: What makes for a good news story in digital media? As I read this Mashable article on my smartphone over the weekend, I thought that this example helped answer that question.

The story is about Airbnb, a service that allows people to rent out their homes and apartments to visitors. That business model is under scrutiny in New York and other states.

I was faintly aware of Airbnb, but after reading this story, I felt much more knowledgeable on the topic. That’s because the story is written and edited in a way that anticipates the reader’s questions. It does so head-on, like so:

airbnb

The story is written in an inviting, conversational tone. Sentences are short and to the point. The story is free of typos and other errors, giving it greater credibility. Links are used as footnotes to allow the reader to click and learn more.

There’s still room for improvement, however. The captions for the photos state the obvious, and the use of stock art at the top of the story doesn’t contribute much to the story.

Despite those shortcomings, Mashable’s story communicates information and context quickly. It’s an example of effective writing and editing for digital and mobile media, and one I will likely use in class next semester.