One of the great things about journalism today is that the Internet offers writers so many opportunities to provide additional information to readers beyond what the printed page can realistically hold. In a sense, it expands the printed page, but in a virtual way, which makes it possible for writers to take off the handcuffs and write to their heart's content, knowing that in some form all their words will get to the reader.
It's not that type is getting smaller, printed pages are getting less expensive, or that copy editors are being any less forgiving about extra wording in stories. What's making it possible for writers to provide more information are the URLs they can put in their stories to drive readers to various websites where they can find more detail that takes them deeper into the subject matter.
In a way, it's like the technique used at Amazon.com. Go there to buy a book, and more often than not you'll get a message that tells you that others who have bought that book have also bought a variety of books on seemingly related topics. If you're interested in one subject, you'll probably be interested in the others too, and if so, the website gives you the opportunity to follow your interests wherever they go.
In magazines, we do the same thing, but we do it a little differently. One option is for us to write a general story for the printed page that gives the highlights of a topic, and then provide the technical detail in a web version of the story or through links to related stories. Or, we can provide full details in print and a broader perspective on the web.
For example, in many articles you read in Design News, you'll find a web icon near the end of the article that refers you to web pages where you can get additional information on the technology discussed. Take our February 23 Awards issue, for example. In "The Man With The Fan," our cover story in that issue on Engineer Of The Year Paul Bevilaqua, you'll find a URL for the JSF X-35 program. Type in http://rbi.ims.ca/3845-561 and you'll get to a Lockheed Martin web page that gives you background on the Joint Strike Fighter and other combat aircraft, such as the F-117 Nighthawk, F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-2 Defense Fighter, F/A-22 Raptor, and the T-50 Golden Eagle. There's enough information there to practically qualify you for flight pay.
In the same issue of the magazine, two other stories point readers to interesting additional information. "One Hip Doc," which profiles the work of the magazine's Special Achievement Award winner, Tony DiGioia, contains a URL that will take readers to separate technology stories on servopneumatics for back injuries, lasers for brain clots, and the complex motion of standing still. Some of that material could be required reading in medical school. In "A Driving Force," our report on Ford's Barb Samardzich, named the Woman Engineer of the Year, you'll find the URL http://rbi.ims.ca/3845-563. It takes you to several other stories about the Ford GT as well as a gallery of videos on various aspects of Ford's racing program. A great place to indulge yourself in the excitement of auto racing without paying a track fee.
Links like these make it easier for journalists to tell more of the story and provide different angles. Check them out. And let us know what other information or sites you would like us to link to.
Reach Teague at firstname.lastname@example.org.