When we write an article, we want to get the message across to as many relevant readers as possible. This makes it necessary to give some thought to the question, how can I make the article attractive and in that way, maximise the number of people who will at least begin reading the article?
There is a fierce competition prevailing in printed publications, in TV and radio and in electronic and social media – the competition for the attention of readers, listeners, viewers and users. We are all flooded with news, information, viewpoints and other kind of input. Each of is engaged in a daily fight, hour by hour, second by second, to sort and choose, which communicative input we actually will engage ourselves in.
Even though the amount of articles, TV-programs and social media postings about adult education is limited, the competition for the time of the potential reader is still extremely hard. Adult education actors also want and need input about other topics, and inputs are offered to them all the time.
When we write an article, we want to get the message across to as many relevant readers as possible. This makes it necessary to give some thought to the question, how can I – writing the article – make the article attractive and in that way, maximise the number of people who will at least begin reading the article? Which leads us to the question: on what basis does the reader decide if s/he will actually start reading the article?
The first decision about reading or not reading an article is mostly taken in a split second while the potential reader casts a glimpse on the printed page or webpage, before s/he rush on to another corner of the page or to another page or another website. In that glimpse the reader may read and understand the headline, a highlighted introductory paragraph, an illustration, the subtext of the illustration or the subtitles in the article. S/he may not be able to consume all these elements in a split second, but they will be next-in-line and constitute the basis for the decision about actually reading the article.
Of course the topic must be of interest to the potential reader. So, the before mentioned elements (headline, introduction, illustration and subtitles) must communicate clearly:
This is the rational basis of choosing the article. But also more “irrational” factors come into play, even for the most serious adult education expert or teacher:
All this lead us to some basic advices for the first parts of a journalistic article on adult education:
See article examples in the column to the right.
If you have convinced the reader to go on after reading the headline and the introductory paragraph, you have won the first and most important battle. Your reader has chosen your article out of thousands.
But you will have to keep fighting until the end – meaning that you have to continuously convince the reader to go on reading. This, of course, has much to do with content and relevance (Chapter 5), but it is also wise to structure the article in a way that makes the first parts of the text useful even if the reader stops reading somewhere along the way.
Here are some advices for that, but this may differ from one article genre (Chapter 3) to another: