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Posts Tagged ‘longform journalism’

The State of the Digital News Publishing Industry, According to the Internet

typefaceThere must be something in the air, maybe the end of a crazy year, that’s making writers introspective. In the past week alone, there have been some very good analyses of the state of the digital publishing . Since it’s cold outside (unless you live in a place where it’s not cold outside, and in that case, stop gloating) and you need some good reads for hibernation, here are five pieces that, I think, aptly explain the industry right now and help further the conversation.

“Against ‘Long Form’ Journalism,” James Bennett

Everybody in the room, put your hands together for Mr. Bennett. It’s not that he’s against expansive reporting, but the way the terminology is thrown around by publications. He asks:

“Is this just a fad, maybe even a fraud? Cynics would say that publishing a few big feature stories is a shortcut to respectability, and they’d be correct. But realists, I’m happy to say, would comment further that such features work: They draw in a lot of readers.”

Recently, I have find myself tapping out around page 3 or 4 of a feature article. By placing value on “long” we stop focusing on “interesting.” Let’s find another phrase, Bennet suggests, even if it proves tough;

Length is hardly the quality that most meaningfully classifies these stories. Yet there’s a real conundrum here: If long-form doesn’t fit, what term is elastic enough to encompass the varied journalism it has come to represent, from narrative to essay, profile to criticism? And how do you account for the blurring of boundaries as work from the digital realm energizes and reshapes traditional forms of journalism?

“Growing Obsession With Viral Content Exposes the Weakness of Most Digital Media,” Mathew Ingram

good post about Gawker’s Neetzan Zimmerman, although I wondered about this: “He posts only about a dozen items a day” http://t.co/rBfMIQvbxI

— Mathew Ingram (@mathewi) December 2, 2013

Let’s put aside the fact that that headline is really long and plays into some viral trends itself. After the Wall Street Journal’s profile on Neetzan Zimmerman, Ingram was irked by how many times a day the subject posted, and posits that focusing on viral content as a growth strategy, while it works for some, may not be a great idea. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket sort of thing:

But even if the content itself continues to work — in the sense that people will always want to share photos of otters holding hands or cats that look like Franklin Delano Roosevelt — the value of those millions of pageviews is continuing to drop. That’s not just because there are more and more sites doing it, but because the value of incremental pageviews is sinking inexorably towards zero. Read more

Watch Industry Pros Discuss the Future of Digital Longform Friday

logoComing up Friday, Dec. 6, several heavy hitters in the world of longform digital publishing will make appearances at Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism to discuss the future of longer narratives online. Interested journalists can also watch a livestream of the event.

David Remnick of The New Yorker is on the bill at Friday’s one-day conference “The Future of Digital Longform” in Manhattan, as well as professionals from nonprofit investigative journalism effort ProPublica, science journalism venture Matter, the crowdfunded Narratively, Longform and The Atavist.

The event was planned for a couple reasons: 1) We’re smack dab in the middle of a really interesting movement in digital storytelling. Some call it a renaissance, even, and it’s clear that a new phenomenon has surfaced; as the Tow Center notes, narratives are being weaved together through multimedia, moving comics and powerful data instead of being one-dimensional. And, 2) Tow Center fellow Anna Hiatt, also of The Big Roundtable, which I’ve written about for the blog), is finished with her research about digital longform journalism, which is part of an ongoing look at the definitions and challenges of longer online news.

Over the course of the day, several important questions like “Just because we can design another “Snow Fall,” should we?” and, considering the fairly recent influx of startups for digital storytelling, the toughest question — “How do we pay writers?” — will be posed and pondered.

Read more

Vox Media’s Jim Bankoff: Longform Journalism Can’t Exist ‘In a Vacuum’

Jim BankoffWe’ve written here on 10,000 Words about the great things Vox Media is doing with longform journalism. In Mediabistro’s latest So What Do You Do interview, the company’s CEO, Jim Bankoff, talked more about his strategy for longform and how publishers can make bonafide, meaty content enjoyable for consumers — and advertisers.

“Looking at longform in a vacuum as a standalone is the wrong thing to do. I would imagine that if you had a media brand that is solely focused on publishing 5,000-word stories with beautiful proprietary photographs and highly-produced videos, it would be a tough thing to make that economically sustainable,” he said. “ We have serious investors and we run a serious business, but we believe the key to growing those margins is making sure that we have quality, engaging products. We can allocate investment across a variety of different endeavors, whether it’s longform, shortform or video. It’s the mix that consumers appreciate.”

Read the full interview in So What Do You Do, Jim Bankoff, CEO of Vox Media?

ag_logo_medium.gifThe full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

The (New) Cost of Longform Journalism at Esquire

Would you pay $1.99 just to read one story?

That’s the question Esquire magazine is posing to readers as of late, testing out a “micropayment” model for writer Luke Dittrich’s 10,000-word piece “The Prophet,” based on Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon who claims to have visited heaven.

Esquire editor-in-chief David Granger penned the following note for prospective buyers on the magazine’s site:

“This is the first time we’ve asked online readers to pay for a story, but for good reason: Because stories like Dittrich’s matter and they don’t come along often. Because great journalism—and the months that go into creating it—isn’t free. So, besides providing the story to readers of our print and digital-tablet versions of the August issue, we are offering it to online readers as a stand-alone purchase. Thank you. —DG”

Read more

Kickstarting Journalism and Climate Change Reporting

I never thought Veronica Mars and long form reporting on climate change had anything in common, but it turns out, they both have the same business model. You want it? You’ll have to pony up for it.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which has been reporting on nuclear weapons, power, disarmament and general military issues surrounding it since 1945, sustains itself with a combination of digital subscriptions, individual donations, and foundational philanthropy. This spring, William and Eleanor Revelle, who’ve led the clean energy cause and have supported The Bulletin with donations and insight on their editorial board, are offering a Challenge Gift. They’ll grant $50,000 and match every donation made to the Bulletin until May 31, 2013 in the hope of raising $100,000 to be used toward reporting on climate change. A week after announcing the challenge, $10,000 has already been raised and Bulletin publisher Kennette Benedict is hopeful that they’ll meet their goal.

It’s a good example of what news organizations need to do to thrive. Here’s why it works:

1) Diversity is Key

According to Benedict, donations and grants like this make her journal work. Individual donations makes up about 20% of their revenues. Ten percent is from subscriptions to digital content and the rest is from philanthropy. When the Post announced its paywall yesterday, the internet was already lamenting its ‘leaks.’

But that is sort of the point. When advertising just doesn’t work, subscription and membership models have to be dynamic. We’ll see how the Post works out this summer. But for niche news, like the Bulletin, there should be options. The Bulletin offers some content, like roundtables and short articles for free. You can buy single articles. Or you can subscribe to the full digital version, as an individual or as an organization. Since their news is, well, news-worthy, they offer free subscriptions for media personnel. So a journalist reporting on climate change or nuclear power can get research from the Bulletin experts.

2) Stay on Your Beat

But to depend on donations from readers, you have to offer good content. Veronica Mars’ Kickstarter campaign worked because they had not just a fan base, but a script ready for pre-production and the big name stars to offer. You can’t start from scratch. Likewise with news. Read more

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