The web was supposed to kill longform journalism, relegate it to a slow demise in the pasture of print. The stories were just too long, conventional wisdom held. The web was about the efficient delivery of information—who had time to read 5,000 words on a browser, let alone pay for the privilege?
Longform journalism was going to die. And it almost did.
But the combination of elegant mobile devices and innovative apps has proven that the audience for longform journalism still exists—and has the potential to grow. Turns out, the problem wasn’t that the stories were too long. People love stories! The problem was that nobody had spent much time thinking about how best, for readers, to present and distribute them digitally.
At the same moment that many publishers were being forced to give up on the feasibility of longform work, readers were finally given the tools to read pieces when, how, and where they wanted to.
This panel will discuss: what those tools are, how they’re being used, how some publishers are taking advantage of them, how other publishers are failing to take advantage of them, how the digital reading experience will continue to evolve, why journalists will always be the core audience for longform journalism, the iPad and the Kindle, Instapaper and Readability, and whether or not anyone is making any money from this stuff.
This panel will not discuss: the upside of paginating long stories.
News organizations are investing a lot of faith and hope into news apps for tablets. Although they have embraced the iPad in different ways, similar design, product, and user experience problems have surfaced. What strategies must be applied to craft design experiences that are more illustrious than the browser? Through taming APIs, feeds, and algorithms, can they entice readers, seasoned and new to make an app a part of their daily news consumption ritual? With stakeholders from both the print and digital world, how do teams surface, manage, and design for divergent expectations? We have made it through the launch, and subsequent updates to, the first news iPad apps and will discuss design considerations and constraints we’ve encountered through this process.
by Blake Eskin
Many print journalists, even those who resisted change, are trying to embrace the digital future. Twenty-year veterans take up social media after taking a buyout, and journalism programs now give aspiring reporters basic multimedia skills. But a facility with Twitter or Soundslides combined with an occupational knack for asking questions won't always add up to the skills necessary to redesign a Web site or create an app. The truth is, journalists and programmers think in fundamentally different ways—words vs. code; stories vs. systems—and often have a hard time communicating and collaborating. And the problem is asymmetrical; most programmers can quickly grasp enough about journalism to work with journalists, but it's much harder to get, say, a midlevel editor to understand the basics of software development or database design. I often find myself wishing I could recommend a course to that colleague or to an unemployed journalist that would teach them how the other half thinks. Most of us have had to muddle through on our own, until we have a road to Damascus moment. But there's got to be a better way. How can we teach journalists to think about technology?
11th–15th March 2011