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TLDNR – too long, did not read.

It’s the kind of comment you might expect to hear in an online forum, not from a senior news executive at the nation’s largest newspaper. And certainly not in the context where it was used in front of former New Zealand Herald feature writer Chris Barton.

That snide comment tells you the real trouble with journalism – the people running the industry simply don’t get it. There’s a lot they just don’t get.

Depth and prestige

For the best part of a decade Barton worked on the kind of long-form, in-depth feature stories which win prizes and readers for newspapers. They add depth to the paper and prestige to the masthead.

Perhaps they weren’t read by everyone. But many readers would buy the Weekend Herald especially to get the more expansive, intelligent features.

By the time Barton left the Herald last year, the feature department was effectively finished. In depth features are no longer part of the paper’s mix.

Read on

And anyway, Too long, didn’t read is nonsense. People do read long form stories. They read them online and they continue to read them in magazines.

They read even longer stories. There’s a special name we give to those even longer stories, we call them books. They can be printed, although increasingly they are digital.

The Scoop Foundation Journalism

Barton was speaking at a session run by The Scoop Foundation. It’s a public interest journalism organisation set up by Alison McCulloch and Alistair Thompson to fund journalism projects.

Also at the presentation was The Science Media Centre’s Peter Griffin. He talked of his experiences looking at how similar organisations in the USA have stepped into to cover some of the issues journalists might have covered for large newspapers. He says there’s potential to raise money in New Zealand from philanthropic trusts.

One thought on “NetHui 2013: The real trouble with journalism

  1. It’s tl;dr, but yeah, I do crave more long-form articles. If you haven’t guessed from my comment length, I believe things worth talking about are worth actually talking about.

    I have tl;dr’d a couple of acticles over the years, but I still read more than if it was a 3 paragraph summary. I think people are getting too used to piecemeal journalism where you don’t get the whole story and the whole thing is just biased. It’s a lot easier to grab people that way :/

    I would be way more interested in a blog with long intelligent discussion on the current state of technologies, where they could lead and what it means to society rather than ‘oh look, this game has a dog! Hey, check it out! Someone said something stupid!’.

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