Longform: Why do we measure the value of content by its length?


I remember what an editor I know told a journalist who asked him how long his story should be: “As long as it needs to be,” my friend said. Among the many benefits of writing online — the ability to link, the speed with which content can be published, etc. — one of the best is that a story can be whatever size it needs to be, whether it’s 200 words or 20,000. So why are we still so obsessed with “longform” journalism, as though it is somehow more valuable simply because of its length?

Writer Chris Ip looked at this in a recent piece in the Columbia Journalism Review, in which he surveyed the landscape of longform-related startups and online ventures, including a new one called Latterly and the much-anticipated effort from former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson and Steve Brill, which doesn’t have a name…

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