L.A. Times and Other Papers Publishing Much Less Longform Journalism

Three of the world’s largest newspapers published significantly fewer longform stories in the last year, according to Dean Starkman at CJR. The L.A. Times, for example, ran 256 stories longer than 2,000 words last year. In 2003, they published 1,776.  It’s an 86 percent drop. Starkman got similar numbers for The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. The papers experienced even larger drops for stories longer than 3,000 words.

Starkman notes that papers are generally publishing fewer stories, period. This suggests that the decline in longform stories in prominent American newspapers may just be reiterating what we already know: newspapers are having a hard time.

But if print can’t sustain the bulk of longform articles, the web has proven that it can. In fact, Poynter pointed out sometime ago that print is actually adapting to how the web handles longform journalism. No doubt that the web breeds versatility, but these findings both suggest that the content and the form are not in trouble, but the print medium is.

(Dean Starkman / CJR)

(Dean Starkman / CJR)

Longform Print Journalism Adapts to Success of Longform Online Journalism

An old issue of The Virginian Pilot. (Flickr Creative Commons: Jesse757)

While most of the media world considers the ethics of the New York Post’s recent front-page photograph, Mallary Jean Tenore at Poynter meditated on “longform journalism.”  By all accounts, longform has found a home online despite original worries it would be killed by readers’ unwillingness to read it on a screen.

Tenore’s piece (“Longform journalism morphs in print as it finds a new home”) looks at how The Virginian Pilot has stretched longform journalism across print, online and booklet formats.  The Pilot apparently found a way to make money from this technique.