4 Responses to “Longform: Why do we measure the value of content by its length?”

  1. David Pierini

    Have we not learned anything from past Pulitzer-winning stories? These are often the least read stories of the year. While I applaud Abrahamson and Brill for paying for good in-depth reporting, it seems like a fool’s errand if they think anybody is going to take the time to read some dense investigative tome. I agree investigative journalism is vital but with newspaper’s dying, shouldn’t we be trying new ways to present the information in a digestible and emotionally engaging way?

    • Mike Ranson

      Perhaps it’s the format of longform that needs to change. Write less like an essay and more like a science paper. Summarise the topic, compose an abstract – there’s your short article. Include a wiki style content list (no more than four or five items) and then tack your magnum opus on underneath. 90% will read the summary and glance at the content list and get what they need, while those who really want to dig and be educated have that option, also (like Pulitzer judges, for example!)

      Perhaps this sounds like overly simple, but as noted in the article we’re discussing, no one has yet figured out how to make online journalism work, nor even what kind of format to use, and so online authors are slipping into the habit of writing what dings their bell instead of meeting the market need. (Assuming anyone can tell them what that is!)

      One thing is certain, though: the web is full of wikis.

      • @ Great point Dave and great response Mike. Mike, I think you nailed the idea. A wiki concept is really what is needed. Yes there are lots of wikis already, but I don’t believe they are created on the fly as new, time-sensitive/timely stories are being told/published. I will often find myself annoyed when I’m reading a long article…but the well written ones about topics that are important or interesting to me, I’ll grind it out. Those extra long articles must have compelling reasons in them to read on or I will drop off quickly…life’s too short. But the wiki concept would provide some “rolling up” of the meatier data into more digestable and interesting components. Perhaps the publisher of the future will will more like wiki than simply giving us a digital version of the printed paper…