The Online Journalism Handbook: Glossary of Useful Journalism, Blogging and New Media Terms

On January 24, 2018 By newswala Topic: Internet and Websites, Onlinejournalismhandbook, Glossary, New media

This catch-all glossary covers all the useful journalism, blogging and new media terms that you would find useful. This is the first version. Later versions will offer more opinion and analysis on each term.

adsense: Google's dominant contextual advertising network that allows publishers to automatically publish relevant advertisements near their content and share the profits from those ad clicks with Google. Putting adsense on your site is as easy as pasting a few lines of javascript code that Google provides to your blog/site. Advertisers opt for one of these two ad auctions: a. cost per click - advertisers are only charged when ads are clicked on b. CPM (cost per thousand impressions)- advertisers are charged a certain amount per ad impression. Adsense allows advertisers to target sites based on keyword, category, or demographic information.

adwords: Google's advertisement and link auction network. Advertisers put out ads on adsense using adwods. Many publishers use adwords to publish ads related to their topic on others sites and blogs to bring traffic to their site.

advocacy blog: A blog pushing some political or social agenda. Does not necessarily have to be non-partisan. Sides are taken and a tone of an activist is adopted - passionate, relentless, promoting the ideas everywhere, using all tools necessary. Since writers are pushing their agenda, good or bad, do not expect for great reading, just informational reading.

affiliate marketing: form of internet marketing in which marketers and site owners share revenues based on sales or lead generation resulting from especially displayed ads on site owners' pages. Most common affiliate marketing is the Amazon book ads you see on book review blogs.

API: Short for Application Programming Interface - an interface called by a program. Web services are often referred to as APIs and are accessible over the Internet.

attention economy: The idea propagated first by Herbert Simon that Human attention is a scarce commodity. Amidst an ocean of information and everything in general, experts like Kevin Kelley suggest we add the 'intangibles' to our offering to increase heir value in the yes of the beholder.

authority: In case of search engines, authority is the ability of a page or domain to rank well in search engines. Things that boost authority are: publishing unique original quality content, site age, traffic trends, site history, and link equity. Different search engines, aggregators, and social media web sites have different gauges of authority. A common ingredient in all these methods is ‘originality’.

blog: A website that is frequently updated with reverse chronological posts. Short for the word 'weblog'. Became popular because the tools to blog are cheap (how about free?) and easy so anyone could start one. A blog can be written by one or more writers. "Blog" can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.

blog carnival: When a group of bloggers group together and write articles on a chosen topic. The idea is to generate traffic, link love or plain community organizing.

blog network: A privately owned collection of blogs with multiple editors Popular blog networks include Gawker and Weblogs, Inc. Bloggers in Blog Networks are paid in a various ways - fixed pay, per pr pageview, pageview-related bonuses, ad revenue share etc.

blogroll: A list of links to a blogger’s favorite blogs usually found in the right sidebar [right column] of any blog.

blogosphere: meaning the world of blogs, bloggers and the ensuing sub-culture. In short, the blogging community.

buzz: generating word or mouth, excitement or interest in a product of service. Things that have buzz are more likely to be shared among users through social networking sites, social bookmarking sites, IM or e-mail. Funny Videos and Lists are common types of items that become buzz-worthy. The act of building buzz is also called Viral Marketing.

CPA: Cost per Acquisition/Action. Also called Pay Per Action or PPA. An online advertising pricing model, where the advertiser pays for each specified action (a purchase, a form submission, and so on) linked to the advertisement. Direct response advertisers consider CPA the optimal way to buy online advertising, as an advertiser only pays for the ad when the desired action has occurred.

CPC: Cost per Click. Unlike CPM, the revenue is paid based on the number of people who respond to the ad (click on this). Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing, and Microsoft adCenter are the three largest CPCproviders. Cost per click (CPC) rates vary depending on search engine and the level of competition for a particular key word or key phrase. The rates are generally higher than for CPM, as few people will respond to an ad – but are more likely to be interested in the offer. The CPC advertising model is open to abuse through click fraud (when a person, automated script, or computer program imitates a legitimate user of a web browser clicking on an ad for the purpose of generating a charge per click without having actual interest in the target of the ad's link.)

CPM: Cost per Thousand (where M is the roman numeral of 1000) – Online advertising model where the revenue is agree based on the thousands of people to whom the ad is shown. Like other broadcast advertising, response is not relevant and the cost goes up as the ad is shown to more people.

cookie: Also called HTTP cookie. A line of text recorded on a reader's computer when that reader requests content from a specific Web domain, either an entire Web page or just an element on a Web page. A cookie from any site includes the name of the domain, a unique visitor number and values for whatever other variables the visited domain wishes to set. The cookie can be read only by a server from the domain that set the cookie. Cookies can be used to track unique visitors to a website, to maintain shopping carts in e-commerce stores and keep visitors logged in to discussion forums and blogs.

CMS: Short for Content management system. Software manages the publication of content to your website. Free and popular CMSes include Wordpress, Drupal and Joomla.

CSS: Short for Cascading Style Sheet. Standard for specifying the appearance of text and other elements. CSS code can be written directly into a web page's code or can be called using stylesheets. Either way, programmers use CCS to declare font styles, image positioning, page layout and mouse behavior across a Web page.

chilling effect: self-suppression of speech or actions because of a fear of reprisals or penalties

citizen journalism: Also known as Grassroots journalism or Participatory Journalism. When ordinary citizens, the non-professionals - with no journalism training — help in reporting, commenting on or disseminating the news. includes people snapping photos on cameraphones at the scene of breaking news, as well as people who start their own blogs or podcasts.

collaborative filtering: the act of working together to promote valuable content and remove spam or offensive content. Group blogs, for example. Works best within small groups [see 'Dunbar Number']

collective intelligence:: the idea that collaboration and competition among large groups results in grand and intelligent ideas. [see 'wisdom of crowds']

crowdsourcing: A variation on citizen journalism where you use intelligence from a large set of people reporting about an issue. For example, City-wise Foodstuff pricelist supplied by bloggers to be published on one web page. Often refers to cases where people’s energies are channelized using web 2.0 tools for business (read, profit) goals.

collaborative blog: (or a group blog) A blog (usually focused on a single issue or political stripe) on which multiple users enjoy posting permission. Popular examples include Metafilter, Boing Boing, Daily Kos...

comment spam: Like e-mail spam. Robot “spambots” flood a blog with advertising in the form of bogus comments. People indulge in comment spam to spread links about their sites/blogs or to promote an online business activity. Bloggers try to deal wit this using Captcha systems, requiring users to input letters they see in the randomly generated graphic image.

creative commons: CC in short. Initiated by law Professor Lawrence Lessig, cc is a form of licensing content which allows the rights holder to define the rights that can be shared/used by other people. Other names include open content.

cyber-dissident: An individual who publishes information on-line that challenges or criticizes a government. Example: Cyber dissidents from Iran, China and suppressive regimes anywhere. More online reporters are now in jails worldwide than traditional journalists.

digital divide: The inequality in access to the internet’s technology and information. Not limited to third world countries.

dunbar's number: Put forward by British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, is a theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. No precise value has been proposed for Dunbar's number, but a commonly cited approximation is 150. [source:wikipedia]

freedom of expression: The freedom to speak freely without censorship or limitation. The synonymous term freedom of expression is sometimes used to denote not only freedom of verbal speech but any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used. Freedom of speech and freedom of expression are closely related to, yet distinct from, the concept of freedom of thought or freedom of conscience. In practice, the right to freedom of speech is not absolute in any country and the right is commonly subject to limitations, such as on "hate speech". This is because exercising freedom of speech always takes place within a context of competing values. The right to freedom of speech is recognized as a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The ICCPR recognizes the right to freedom of speech as "the right to hold opinions without interference. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression". Furthermore freedom of speech is recognized in European, inter-American and African regional human rights law. [source: Wikipedia]

human rights: The "basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled." Examples of rights and freedoms which have come to be commonly thought of as human rights include civil and political rights, such as the right to life and liberty, freedom of expression, and equality before the law; and social, cultural and economic rights, including the right to participate in culture, the right to food, the right to work, and the right to education.

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. "- Article 1 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

Many countries have their own Bills of Rights, which are often the product of their own history and circumstances, both in content and manner of enforcement. The agreed definitions of rights are found at the international level in the three documents that make up the International Bill of Rights:

* the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
* the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and
* the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESC).

javascript: A programming language for client-side (meaning: browser-side) web development and is used by web developers to add features that make the web page more interactive. Despite the name, Javascript is unrelated to Java programming language. Javascript can be included in a an HTML file where the browser interprets the code. Or, JavaScript can be combined with Cascading Style Sheets(CSS). When Javascript is combined with HTML 4.0 and above, the result is called DHTML>

Short for Hypertext markup language. Web content is formatted using html to be displayed as a Web page by browser. HTML is a subset of XML. Latest web browsers can display web pages that are not written in HTML.

long tail: Idea put forth by Chris Andersen of Wired Magazine that says that for any category of product being sold there is much more aggregate demand for the non-hits than there is for the hits. Also known as the anti-Blockbuster model. For writers, it means that they can write on any topic and chances are people will search for it and more important, there will ads for it. Remember, only chances, no guarantees.

mashup: is a website or application that combines content from more than one source into an integrated experience. Example:, which takes real estates listings from Craigslist and displays the data using maps from Google maps.

media accountability: Refers to the general (especially western) belief that mass media has to be accountable in the public’s interest - that is, they are expected to behave in certain ways that contribute to the public good. We are all reporters now and we must try to contribute to the public interest

meme: Richard Dawkins coined this term in "The Selfish Gene"(1976), meaning "a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation." A meme comprises a unit or element of cultural ideas, symbols or practices; such units or elements transmit from one mind to another through speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena." Examples include Rickrolling, lolcats, leetspeak, the Pokémon Mudkip, "OVER 9,000!" from Dragon Ball Z, and "All your base are belong to us”, The 25 things meme on Web sites such as 4chan, Something Awful, Youtube, and Fark have become major hubs in spreading Internet memes. [source:wikipedia]

metcalfe’s law: Also called the network effect law. Formulated by Robert Metcalfe, the creator of Ethernet, it states that the value of a network is proportional to the square of the number of its users. Therefore, the more number a network, the more valuable it is. [Also, see 'Dunbar's Number']

moblogs: Blogs posted and maintained via mobile phone. Almost all blog CMSes have tools that help people update their blogs through their cellphones.

online curation: Preserving, cataloguing and making available online information on any given topic. Wikipedia is the best example.

open source reporting: where reporters, or citizen reporters, make public all their sources and gathered information on a story. This is done to show their bias/preference or lack of. The idea is to make journalism more transparent.

open source software: Software for which the uncompiled source code of the program is freely available for users to see and modify. Open source software is typically made available to users free, under the General Public License [GPL]. is a popular source of open source software. Most web 2.0 services are built using open source software because not only they are free but also improvements from other developers is easily available and these software are often state of the art.

pagerank: a proprietary algorithm used by Google to allot importance (link equity) to web pages and web sites, affecting the appearance of the page/site in Google's search result pages.

The PageRank formula is: PR(A) = (1-d) + d (PR(T1)/C(T1) + ... + PR(Tn)/C(Tn))

PR= PageRank d= dampening factor (~0.85) c = number of links on the page
PR(T1)/C(T1) = PageRank of page 1 divided by the total number of links on page 1, (transferred PageRank)

short for Hypertext Preprocessor, a popular langage for developing web applications. This is a server-side language {html is client side; meaning: the browser reads it]. Many popular web sites and CMSes have been built using php - wordpress, digg ec.

portal: A marketing term for a website that offers access to multiples forms of content and services. A "news portal" aggregates content from its own writers and others. Then there are general purpose portals like that offer access to news and services like free email etc.

a blog predominantly using and focusing on photographs and images. Often created by photobloggers and promoted through sharing photos on Flickr.

podcast: A radio or video show that allows you to subscribe to it online, for automatic uploads to your MP3 player. The technology for podcasts is a version of RSS, which allows you to subscribe to text content using news reader software or sites.

pundit blog: A blog focused on news punditry. Most Pundit blogs analyze news stories from the established media and offer their own views and counterpoints. As a rule, if you are covering the latest news items and giving your opinions non-stop, you are trying to be a 'pundit blogger'. Name perhaps derived from Glenn Reynolds' popular new blog. The fear is: overuse of the term may lead to derision one day.

RSS or web feeds or feeds: Short for Really Simple Syndication. Technology that lets you subscribe to the content of a website or weblog, and then scan headlines or blurbs on new content for these sites using a news reader or aggregator such as Google Reader or Bloglines.

shovelware: Derogatory term for unoriginal content. Refers to the practice of re-publishing stories from one media, usually a print newspaper, to blogs and websites, without substantially altering the content.

seo copywriting: Style of online writing that makes an article fare well in search engine result pages [SERPs]. Basically, seo copywriting means we should write on timely topics (because search engines like new things as they crawl the web) and write in a way that makes other people link to you. In other words, being easy, useful and unique.

social media: a name applying to the set of these sites - social networking sites, social bookmarking sites, blogs, social news sites, photo sharing sites and video sharing sites - basically, any site with large number of users that allows its users to tag and share content with others.

social news: sites that allow users to share, vote and comment on the latest interesting news. Prominent social news sites are,,,, and

social bookmarking sites: also called tagging sites. is the most popular social bookmarking site. Almost all major sites now allow users to tag content from their sites or elsewhere. There are tools such as ‘Share This’ that allow users to tag and save articles on any of their favorite sites.

social networking: the act of connecting with other people using social networking sites such as Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, Orkut and it all starts with creating a profile on these sites.

social marketing optimization (SMO):
Content and Site promotion using social media websites [the whole group of social networking sites, blogs, social news sites, social bookmarking, photo sharing sites and video sharing sites]. This includes creating content that users might like to share [see 'buzz'], allowing users to tag and share the content and submitting personally to all the social media sites.

search engine optimization (SEO): the promotion of a site on the search engines. The idea is to do a certain set of activities that will help your site rank well on the search engine result pages, in particular Google. A whole industry has come up around the idea. SEO is done using a mix of on-page [using metatags, h1/h2 tags in the article, keywords in headline and paragraph headings etc.] and off-page [submitting links, requesting for links, doing noteworthy things etc.] activities. All these are referred to as White Hat or Good SEO. Bad SEO or Black Hat SEO refers to the act of duping readers into looking at pages that they did not intend to.

sock puppetry: when bloggers try to make their blogs more popular than they are by posting comments under multiple aliases. A notable variation include registering under multiple names on a site from different computers.

spam (or spamming): An inappropriate and annoying method of using any available communication tool to send the same message to a large number of people who did not ask for it. Variations include e-mail spam, comment spam, blog spam (copied content), social networking spam, and now Twitter Spam.

slashdot effect: The resulting huge traffic coming to a small site when it is linked to by a large and popular site. Named after the popular social news site Slashdot, which often links to interesting news items on small sites. Often, small sites are not prepared to withstand the traffic load and crash.

stand-alone journalism:
Term coined by Journalism Professor Jay Rosen and Chris Nolan and points to professional journalists who are using modern web publishing tools to make their own publishing brands. Examples include - Rafat Ali, Nick Denton, Om Malik, Jason Calacanis, Josh Marshall...

tags: keywords that describe the content of a web site, bookmark, photo or blog post. Tags help users browse content in ways other than plain search or page-by-page browsing. You can assign multiple tags to the same online resource, and different people can assign different tags to the same resource. Made popular by Now almost all sites allow users to tag content including Flickr (photos and Youtube (Videos). Te act of creating or using tags is called Tagging. When tags are displayed on a web page, in various sizes depending upon how often they have been used, these displays are called Tag Clouds.

troll: A person who posts to an online forum or blog with the sole aim to provoke a hostile response from other readers.

twitter: A tool that popularized microblogging - postings messages up to 140 characters. Users of Twitter interact with other users using 'follow' , @...replies and DM - direct messaging.

unique visitors: A count of unique visitors to your site by setting cookies to each site visitor and recording how many unique cookie identities visited your site over a period. This is better method of determining blog/site traffic than the "hits" method where hits could mean anything - even a user accessing your javascript file on your server could be counted as a hit but for the advertiser this counter is useless.

usability: How easy it is for customers to perform the desired actions and web users to find what they are looking for on a site. Jacob Nielsen and Don Norman are credited with popularizing the idea. Web studies show users will not wait for more than 4 seconds before they find what they are looking for in a web site.

VoIP: Short for Voice-over IP. Means Voice communications transmitted over the Internet. VoIP allows people to have "phone" conversations using only their computer, headphones/speakers, and a microphone. Skype is a very popular, and free VoIP tool.

videoblog or vblog: A blog that includes video entries, and sometimes includes text as well., hosted by Amanda Congdon was the first popular video blog.

web service: A service provided online that can be called by another program across the Internet. Even a blog software is a kind of a web service.

wiki: A website that allows all its readers to add to and change its content. Wikis allow for collaborative content creation. Some wikis let you track all the edits of a page, and revert to old versions. Mediawiki is a free software to host wikis and the popular Wikipedia reference site runs using it.

wisdom of crowds: Idea first formulated by New Yorker's James Suroweiki meaning that a large diverse group of individuals that does not necessarily include experts can provide more accurate answers than a small group of specialists working together, provided certain conditions are met.

XML: Short for Extensible markup language. Invented in 1996, to be a way of organizing text information by labeling it with specified variables in a fixed format.

Read more glossaries:

SEOBOOK Internet Marketing Glossary
OJR Online News Glossary
Mediashift New Media Glossary
Online News Glossary
Blogging Glossary

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