Dissecting long-form journalism

Dissecting long-form journalism

Is long form journalism relevant today? Find out

We’re in an age of instant content. We need content but we want it quick and short so we can scroll up and watch the hundredth reel for our day. I know it might be odd to then read about long-form journalism. I’m keenly aware that shorter content is in demand today. From the beginning of twitter, who told us that 240 words is all we get and nothing more to TikTok who surprisingly showed us that doom scrolling has a whole new level to it. 

As our content gets more visual, we’re learning that the audience has an affinity to shorter bite sized content. There’s an information overload and nobody is backing out. There’s so much of the same content out there but that doesn’t seem to affect us. 

You see, the thing with the cloud is, it has limitless storage. So with each identical reel or tweet about the exact same subject, there are enough netizens to contribute views. We’re 8 billion after all. 

So where does long form journalism come in? 

While there’s a catastrophe happening around us where short form content seems to be thriving, there’s also a growing audience who seek information. Good, solid, reliable information. People have had enough of all the apps, the notifications and what not. Digital detox is the weekend now. We’re all consuming content but we’re also a little tired of it. 

This is where long form content comes in. People are slowly realizing that rather than spending meaningless hours scrolling through the face of the web, it adds much more value to their lives if they simply seek authentic content and consume it. To put it simply, rather than spending 3 hours scrolling through social media, readers do seem to enjoy a detail oriented article that is of interest to them. 

Coronavirus pandemic taught us a thing or two. But it also showed us that staying in the digital cocoon is really not it. Netizens have spent countless hours on the web and streamlining the search to find more relevant content has been trending. Google discover alone must carry some weight of this. Carrying personalized recommendations for each individual user to encourage them to read articles has been fruitful for both users and publishers. 

How to “Long-Form”

Long form articles today are a gamble because there’s a right time and place for it. If you have a niche audience who have shown their interest in reading about a subject before, then it’s a good call to draft a long form article. However, writing a 10,000 word article might be pushing it too far. 

Long form articles need to be done skillfully. Study the subject and learn how much content is available on the same. If there is a lack of, go ahead and cover points that you think will add value to your audience. However if this is a subject that has been covered time and again, avoid piling onto it. Write about recent developments or stick to the point. 

If you’re a news publisher, consider sticking to a maximum of 2000 word articles. Remember to show the reading time at top. If you have more than 2000 words to cover, consider part 2. Carry the important information to the top of the article while creating intrigue to carry them through the length of the write up. 

For content that is informative and not a guide, stick to shorter articles. However for a guide or article you may want to expand content into smaller sections to aid comprehension. If you’re looking for credibility through long form articles, remember to break them into sections. One long article is not likely to help you. Having many smaller sections that deliver powerful information that is distributed gradually is ideal. 

The design of long form articles is also crucial. You may present the entire article as a single paragraph - black and white. Unless it’s a research paper, you’re not likely to get any views. However, if you’re looking into readership, use the help of a designer. Add visual elements to break your content and to aid your message. This is of utmost importance. A large contributor to the rise in popularity of long form articles is the various layers we’re able to add today to help readability.