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Narrative Journalism and Digital Media

The debate around long form narrative journalism and it’s growing potential on the web has been gaining momentum. So, I just wanted to share with you two stories and hear your ideas/comments about them.

In the first article, Forbes‘ Lewis DVorkin argues that now that we can access to data on how long people stay reading a web page, how far down readers will scroll, and how many clicks deep into a story they are willing to go, we can assess with accuracy whether readers enjoy shorter or longer pieces online.

According to Forbes’ data, and contrary to what newspaper editors thought in the past, long form journalism for the web not only interests readers but is also key to business success. Thanks to statistics (Google Analytics and so many others) but also to social media, we can now measure and more importantly see how the “social conversation evolves” around news articles (FB “likes” and “shares” and Twitter “hashtags”).

Tapping into these tools, what DVorkin found is that longer, well researched pieces have exponentially higher readership than shorter snippets, or lesser researched pieces. His recommendation: long and short form should work hand in hand. Short form will generate interest in the story (something like a teaser) and long form will deliver the bulk of the content.

In the article, DVorking also quotes an e-mail exchange with Mark Amstrong, creator of Long Reads. Amstrong  argues that this long form journalism is in vogue due to four variables:

1- The embrace of mobile devices and tablets

2- The rise of social recommendation

3- A community that embraced a new way to organize long form content

4- The rise of shifting apps like Read it Later (indirectly, also, the spread of WiFi) This fourth one is particularly amazing, because Read It Later shows data on hundreds of millions of stories saved to be read in portable devices while users have no access to the internet.

But, in fact, the mere existence of Long Reads or The Atavist, a search engine and a market platforms exclusively developed to find and market long form narrative journalism stories, speaks to the resurgence of this genre.

A second article by Wired writer David Dobbs develops some of the ideas introduced by DVorkin and adds that in Wired they also found that long form “breeds reader loyalty.”

My questions to you: how do you think this new trend could affect your career? Could these new trends affect the way you will approach your studies or your job search? Please read the articles and post a brief answer to my questions.