On Thursday, November 21, 2013, OLC attended AppNexus’ event, The Future Of Long Form Journalism featuring Nicholas Thompson, the editor of NewYorker.com.
Nicholas Thompson oversees and manages the magazine’s fast-growing Web Site. He is also a contributing editor at Bloomberg Television, a technology contributor at CNN International, and a co-founder of The Atavist, a software company and digital magazine.
“People think the future of long form journalism isn’t good, but I think it’s quite good,” Thompson said. He explained that the user’s attention span has gotten worse as the decline of print became more pronounced. “It’s not a cultural change, but a change in our minds. We process information differently on digital devices: less tactile, affects memory, more distractions, links confuses us, and we have less control,” he said.
According to Thompson, the internet is changing counter to sophisticated publishing. “Drivel succeeds on the web,” he said. “If you write something serious, it will get aggregated,” he warned. Aggregation pulls traffic from the original source.
“At the New Yorker, the best and longest stories get read the most. The better something is, the more readers it gets,” Thompson said. “Everyone is doing long form journalism and people are reading it. Twitter is the best place to find long reads. Twitter is great at feeding people,” he said.
In the last five years, there has been a renaissance of long form journalism. “The web is getting better at identifying the best stuff—Google promotes long form journalism, new devices help, like tablets and new software. Over 90% of people who get past the beginning of New Yorker stories finishes it. And tablets create a new habit. We found out that there’s more activity at night. Hardware has shaped behavior. It’s also easier to create content and the web is moving towards cleaner, reader friendly design.”