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What is the longest article you ever wrote?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by valpo87, Jan 14, 2014.

  1. valpo87

    valpo87 Guest

    I had just completed a feature article about a Soldier being reunited with the specialized search dog he was team with for two tours in Afghanistan and how the dog is like family. That sort of feature.

    When I write, I don't worry about things like the word count until I get to proofreading and correcting my own typos before sending to the editors. Find out I had typed about 1,600+ words. Another reporter said that number is rare for any type of newspaper article.

    So out of curiosity, what was the longest article you have wrote? What was the word count after the article was published?
  2. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    I love doing a couple of long pieces a year. For me they're the most fun to do. I don't know what the word count is, but the column length I shoot for generally goes from 100-120 inches.
  3. silvercharm

    silvercharm Member

    Oh, I wouldn't call that rare. That's in the neighborhood of 45-50 inches, depending on your paper's web width. Not as common today as 10-20 years ago, but if it's well written and interesting, still has a place in today's newspaper. More often that not, though, you'll see writers empty their notebook of quotes into a story, because they don't know how to put together a well-written long piece, and think it's worth the inches. It's not.
  4. valpo87

    valpo87 Guest

    Quality over quantity. I wouldn't write that much if it was all quote-heavy.
  5. outofplace

    outofplace Well-Known Member

    Inch counts can be a useful guideline, but a good editor knows when to ignore them and allow a piece the room it needs.

    I co-wrote a package a year or two into my career. The mainbar was over 120 inches before we started editing, but it was broken up into sections. We tied various aspects of the subject into the stories of the people we interviewed. The other reporter and our SE sat down and cut about 20 inches from it, apparently fighting the entire time (I was out covering something. I also think the SE just didn't want to deal with both of us at the same time.)

    Because it was going to start on A1 and jump inside, it had to go through our Metro editor. He was a rumpled, old school curmudgeon and a very well respected journalist. His first reaction was to lose his mind when he found out it was 100 inches. My SE just calmly told him to read it. The Metro editor read it and when he was done, he admitted he could't find a single place to cut and he barely touched the thing. That piece won a couple of awards, but I think I was more proud that the curmudgeon let us get away with a 100-inch mainbar when he had been dead-set against it.
  6. 3_Octave_Fart

    3_Octave_Fart Well-Known Member

    Not a fan of subheds. Stories are not particularly meant to be told in vignettes.
  7. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    I think mine was around 70 inches (in the neighborhood of 2,500 words) about a decade ago, when we had a much wider web width. Probably would be 100-plus inches these days. Hell, these days most AP gamers come across as 30 inches or longer, when they used to be less than 20.

    Honestly, the stories that are longest are usually the easiest to write. You get in a groove, have loads of material, know you have something special to tell and a special way to tell it, and the words just flow. When I'm writing those stories, I can be at 800 words without blinking an eye.
    The 15-inch prep gamer you're trying to scratch out from an incomplete voice mail and half a box score is way more difficult.
  8. ColdCat

    ColdCat Well-Known Member

    Hell the 15-inch game from a 40-point blowout you covered is pretty hard too.

    My record is 2,500 which I think worked out to 67 inches. With a couple breakout boxes and a few photos, the jump took up an entire page
  9. awriter

    awriter Active Member

    I don't like them in shorter stories or columns, but I have no problem with them in big takeouts. They can help break the story into chapters and break up long blocks of text.
  10. outofplace

    outofplace Well-Known Member

    Exactly. It's not something I'd use often, but it fit perfectly for that particular project. If you're going to write a piece that long, throwing it all together in one big mass of gray doesn't work.

    Fart's statement about telling stories in vignettes is right there with putting a limit on the length of all stories. It's not a terrible guideline for a newspaper story, but you have to know when to toss it out. The other writer and the two editors I worked with on that project were smart enough to know that.
  11. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    I wrote 100 plus inches for a football tab before, but that was breaking out by position.

    Fuck, some high school basketball roundups would push that as well if you give 4-5 inches to 20-25 games from a busy night.
  12. MisterCreosote

    MisterCreosote Well-Known Member

    I was a mediocre writer, and I would've sucked out loud if I hadn't stopped at 18-ish inches.

    However, I was never a fan of newspaper "writers." In my experience, those who tried to write that much did so to take the focus off of subpar reporting.
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