Be honest – when was the last time you read a newspaper? I mean, really read a newspaper, perhaps over your morning coffee at the breakfast table or during the train ride to work? Keep in mind that flipping through pages during a ten-minute lunch break does not count, nor does scanning headlines on The New York Times’ website in an effort to use your ten free articles wisely.
More than likely, you logged into Twitter and did a quick scan of your favorite news organizations’ tweets. You may have opened your favorite blog (All Things E, of course!) on your smartphone and clicked a few outward links to news stories.
You may feel shameful admitting to this, and critics who lament the impending death of long-form journalism are glad you feel this way. However, it appears that you are not alone in this practice; according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center’s Journalism project, a steadily-increasing number of social media users turn to these networks first for news. For example, 52% of Twitter users get their daily dose of news from the site, while only 18% of Twitter consumers turn to print media as a regular news source.
Before you old-school journalists throw your steno pads in the air and wail with horror, take note – there is a revolution afoot to steer the Internet back toward long-form prose. While some sites provide condensed overviews of headlines that are perfect for the consumer on-the-go, other sites prove lackluster when you take out the images.
Some social media gurus are responding to this influx of nonsense. Take Evan Williams, the founder of your favorite easily-digestible news source. According to a recent article in The New York Times, this Twitter-man founded Medium to “add nourishment” to the Internet’s otherwise sugary, blurb-infested exterior. From creative musings to in-depth journalism pieces, Medium promotes a return to both freeform and long-form blogging. Users can craft a unique, fleshed-out voice while still utilizing catchy titles and graphics. Here’s a great example of some original, socially-conscious blogging.
Of course, the glossy exterior is still the greatest way to entice users into clicking the coveted “Like” and “Share” buttons. One tool that combines appealing visuals and nourishing knowledge nuggets is Flipboard. This app allows users to create a virtual magazine of content from around the Internet. Even Reuters recently joined the Flipboard revolution. For an example of how social change-makers are utilizing this tool, check out this compilation of human trafficking knowledge from Restore NYC.
So, newspaper doomsday criers, don’t put away your milk crates just yet. Just take a quick break to scan your Twitter feed for some long-form Internet reading. Medium even provides reading times for each post.