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When did "long" become a dirty word?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Dick Whitman, Jan 26, 2011.

  1. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Twice here this week, I have seen it stated that a story was "good," but "too long."

    That was on the Voros McCracken story and the New Yorker piece on football concussions.

    Neither seemed "too long" to me. Both were packed with information and telling anecdotes.

    Someone also criticized Chris Jones for writing long takeouts. And I remember a few weeks ago someone, in reference to magazine takeout writers, saying something along the lines of, "Not everyone wants to masturbate for 15 pages." Can't remember what thread that was.

    My question: Do people really think that these particular stories were too long? Or that no stories should be that long?
  2. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    When Twitter was invented.
  3. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    A story can be too long, if it wanders, the prose isn't compelling enough, if too many needless facts are put in, etc. I don't know about these pieces, but just saying that a long story isn't automatically bad, but it's not automatically good either. However long a story is, it needs to be tight and concise.
  4. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    Problem is dearth of quality long form writers. I was just reading something about that last week.
  5. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Let me be clear: If someone thinks that long pieces, even good long pieces, don't have a place in modern-day journalism because readers don't have the attention span for it and it is an inefficient use of space, that is certainly a reasonable opinion. It saddens me that they may be correct, but it is a reasonable opinion to have.
  6. Herbert Anchovy

    Herbert Anchovy Active Member

    Depends on your interest level. I'm not going to read 2,000 words about golf or auto racing. I'll read 10,000 about baseball.
  7. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    I'm a little different. I'll read 10,000 on an obscure Albanian poet if it tells me a great story (a New Yorker specialty). I won't read 500 on baseball if it doesn't. Well, maybe on baseball I would.
  8. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    I'm willing to read anything the New Yorker puts out even if my level of interest is not high. I figure I will learn something new.

    Part of problem may be what some talked about on another thread. Long form is hard to follow on web site.
  9. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Long is a subjective word -- set by the point where the reader starts to get bored. I know of one guy who can't write anything on his area college that isn't overwritten by at least a power of three. I know of another who makes up for writing long by being dry, boring and plodding. I know of another writer at the other end of the state where I usually want to know more.
  10. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    Let me preface this by saying I try to read at least one 5,000-word article almost every day, along with many shorter ones.

    I felt the McCracken piece was too long. Its content was simply not strong enough to carry a story of its length. It came across as an untuned biography.

    And I believe the story was hardly unique to Yahoo! or ESPN or many other web-only longform entities. I don't believe there's a lack of longform writers, I do believe that longform stories are not getting edited nearly as strenuously at online ventures as they must at a newspaper or magazine. As a result, no one is combing for inefficiencies.

    In one sweep through that McCracken feature, I could have shaved probably 500 words off without even really changing the content. But I suppose the question is, why? There's an infinite amount of space available to a web-only story.

    I think that's bad logic, even though I do believe most readers who sit down to read a longer piece don't care much if it's 4,000 words of 5,500 words. Strong editing and intelligent trimming can make a story much stronger.
  11. I have no probelm reading "long" articles (for the reasons previously offered), however, I clicked on the SL Price link, saw it was 10 pages and passed.
  12. FileNotFound

    FileNotFound Well-Known Member

    The problem is not long stories. The problem is long bad stories.
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