Chris Ip, Columbia Journalism Review:
The market is flooded with longform producers, even as the model for how to succeed is still yet to be cracked.
“Longform” is struggling to be sustainable long-term because it’s a fetishization of a romantic notion that the market’s actions don’t support in reality.
People want to have read “longform” (whatever that means), but if presented with either attentively reading a 10,000-word article or checking social networks and munching on some listicles, longform usually loses. If there’s a paywall in front of it, it gets even worse. You can monetize people’s good intentions even if they’re not backed up by consistent actions, but not for long.
Rather than fetishize length, which is completely misguided, focus on quality. Length isn’t the problem that most people are looking to solve in their online reading, but we will always have an infinite appetite for high-quality material, and it’s increasingly difficult to find.