Pants or Shorts

Short words. Short sentences.

Web journalism is short journalism.

That’s the nature of the beast, we’ve been told. Our readers are news grazers, and they like their food in bullet points and bold lists. Research backs those assertions.

But in an era of rapid fluidity, what is the expiration date on assertions?

Slate, one of the few successful online magazines, has a case for long-form journalism. Editor David Plotz assigns reporters 4 to 6 weeks off to pursue lengthy pieces of self-selected topic.

Result: more pageviews and a deeper connection to what Plotz called the “right readers” in his interview with Nieman. He is seeking not for the mind-melting masses, but the engaged readers.

This is the major difference from college sports to high school sports. Our college track team had people who wanted to be there versus a high school team where, in some cases, kids have to be there.

Plotz said in the interview that he has found the work not only invigorates the reporters, but re-energizes the entire Slate brand.

Could the magazine have stumbled upon the new “it” method?

As one reporter put it, Slate can be “in-depth in a world of tiny little bites.” Perhaps there is something revolutionary there.

Being old-normal is the new radical. Long-form journalism is circling back to become new again in an environment saturated with news briefs and bullet lists.

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