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NetHui 2013: The real trouble with journalism

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.

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