I enjoy reading long-form narratives as much as anyone who got into journalism to do that kind of work. More than that, I enjoy multimedia stories that use different elements to best display the information. In a world where more than a trillion gigabytes of information pass in front of our eyes on the screens we sit at or hold in our hands each year, I’m more inclined toward information delivered in the best format. And make no mistake, there is always a best format. A story is not always visual, but it may contain elements that are. A story does not always lend itself to audio, but it may make up a significant portion. An info graphic can sometimes convey more meaning than a 3,000 word article, and a 2 minute video is often worth more words than it takes to fill up the daily newspaper.
In a world where the tools to produce all of these formats in one story are available in the smart phones we carry with us everywhere, there is virtually no excuse for creating content without thinking through the best format and delivery options that match the habits of today’s Tom Sawyer viewer.
My point in all this is this: Digitally native media is a different species than the old forms that we are so comfortable with. Just because you can write a 4,000 word story about an interesting topic doesn’t mean you should.
The one thing missing from most morning and afternoon news meetings is this: What is the absolute best way to tell this story, and how do we make that happen?
When we stop trying to upload legacy media onto an incompatible drive, we’ll see the Pulitzer prize awarded for truly digital work.
And in case you don’t think this type of work is already being done, just look around at the media you consume every day.