Sunday, February 13, 2011


American IdolImage via Wikipedia

Department of Adequate Length.
One of the many good things about the current digital revolution that is sweeping the media world is that it seems is if long form journalism is making a come-back.

Personally, I have long believed in the notion that issues are worth exploring at adequate length, and that brevity, for its own sake, tends to be destructive; but traditional publishers were concerned about the cost of paper (and believed it should primarily be used for ads) and were decidedly unconcerned about informing their readers adequately; so short became categorized as ‘good,’ and long as ‘bad,’ virtually regardless of the complexity of the matter at hand.

Enter the decline in the quality of American life which has been such a feature since the Seventies; insidious and largely hidden at first, but recently glaringly obvious.

Is there a relationship between a sound bite approach by the media to a public that seems incapable of discussing and resolving most issues more complex than American Idol? I advance that proposition. Clearly it is not the only factor – blatant commercial manipulation, outright propaganda, ingrained prejudices, and the nature of our educational system play no small role, but the absence of adequate homes for pieces which could really get to grips with a subject has, in my opinion, long been a matter of serious concern.

Department of Good News: Kindle Single Store and The Atavist.
Apart from the intrinsic flexibility of digital content (such files cost virtually nothing to store and reproduce) two recent developments give grounds for optimism. First is the introduction of the Kindle Single Store which is publishing pieces between 10,000 and 30,000 words in length. Second is the launch of The Atavist Let me quote their own words:

“The Atavist is a boutique publishing house producing original nonfiction stories for digital, mobile reading devices. We like to think of Atavist pieces as a new genre of nonfiction, a digital form that lies in the space between long narrative magazine articles and traditional books and e-books. Publishing them digitally and offering them individually — a bit like music singles in iTunes — allows us to present stories longer and in more depth than typical magazines, less expensive and more dynamic than traditional books.

Most importantly, it gives us new ways to tell some inventive, captivating, cinematic journalism — and new ways for you to experience it.”
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