The Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) has an interesting piece today that details how long form writing has vanished from the Wall Street Journal since Rupert Murdoch took over. As you can see from the chart on the right, there were 800 1,500 word or longer pieces in the Journal in 2006, but in 2007, the year Murdoch purchased the paper, those longer articles started dropping immediately.
Using an estimate for this year, CJR writes that long form journalism has dropped by 70 percent under Murdoch’s guidance, and that’s not good:
…Without going long, it’s hard to achieve greatness. It sure makes harder to tell a story or lay out evidence, much less capture nuance and complexity. A longer story signals to readers that this story is important and that more work went into it.
First of all, FishbowlNY doubts that people, Journal readers or otherwise, look at journalism in such a simplistic way; length doesn’t correlate to quality.
Also, this is probably a trend affecting every single newspaper. It reflects our society: People want more information faster. Especially those in the business and finance world.
While long stories are important, the Journal is doing a good thing by limiting them. The strategy is working, too. In August the paper saw a print ad revenue jump of over 20 percent compared to last year. The Journal’s articles might be small, but they do their job.