January 22, 2013

Decline of the long news story

Dean Starkman, Columbia Journalism Review - The Los Angeles Times published 256 stories longer than 2,000 words last year, compared to 1,776 in 2003—a drop of 86 percent, according to searches of the Factiva database. The Washington Post published 1,378 stories over 2,000 words last year, about half as many as 2003 when it published 2,755. The Wall Street Journal, which pioneered the longform narrative in American newspapers, published 35 percent fewer stories over 2,000 words last year from a decade ago, 468 from 721.

When it comes to stories longer than 3,000 words, the three papers showed even sharper declines. The WSJ’s total is down 70 percent to 25 stories, from 87 a decade ago, and the LA Times down fully 90 percent to 34 from 368.

The New York Times’s record was more mixed. It published 25 percent fewer stories over 2,000 words from a decade ago, but 32 percent more stories over 3,000 words.

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