Writing to be read

During our last beat meeting on Thursday, Katherine made an interesting point about writing to be read and the changing journalism landscape. As journalists, we love to write lengthy, wordy articles that explore the depths of a particular issue. However, are we taking into consideration what readers want?

In a hurried society where it seems like 24 hours in a day is no longer enough, readers want the news delivered to them quickly. Even if they wanted to, many readers don’t have time to wade through 1000 words to catch the gist of a story. They would much rather find out the main idea and findings in the first three paragraphs, and then move on. 

If this is what journalism is evolving into, why are we making things hard on ourselves and writing such lengthy articles? It’s not only a waste of our time, but also the readers. If they’re not going to take the time to read the entire article, why should we spend so much time writing it?

It’s a tough decision to make, and I’m not sure there’s a definitive answer. Of course, there are many readers out there that love to read lengthy, in-depth articles that really explore a subject. However, should we cater to them, or to the on-the-go news consumer?

In my opinion, the answer is both. I like the idea of presenting a story in two different formats, which many news organizations are already starting to do. I think readers should have the option to choose how they want to consume their news. For example, mobile and tablet news should be condensed articles, with links to the full articles at the official news organization website. Newspapers are a little trickier, and I don’t know that I have a viable suggestion for catering its article lengths to readers. 

While there has yet to be a universally accepted solution, it’s good to know that news organizations are already developing ideas to help solve the problem. It will be interesting to see how journalism adapts to the changing times. 

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