Online tools for long-form journalism

Poynter Online’s Mallary Jean Tenore looks at how technology is giving long-form journalism another chance at survival.

“Five guys,” Tenore writes, “…have found ways to use Web tools to renew attention to long-form journalism, increase its shelf life and make it easier for people to consume and share it.”

First, there’s Nate Weiner. He likes to read long-form articles, but couldn’t find a good way to save them for later. He created Read It Later, which allows people to save online stories for offline use. In just three years, the tool has over three million users.

Tenore spoke with Weiner, writing:

“Weiner said he’s talked recently with journalists and publishers about the importance of making it easy for readers to save stories — particularly longer-form ones that take awhile to produce and can get easily lost among other content on a news org’s website.

“The biggest question he gets from publishers is, “Why would we want to allow the reader to read off our site, away from our advertising and other articles?”

“Read It Later is essentially the article’s second chance. It actually improves the likelihood that the article will be seen,” Weiner said via e-mail. “If any article is there, the user put it there. And in order for a user to have put it there, they would have to have visited the publisher’s site.”

In a similar project, Marco Arment (the lead developer behind Tumblr) created Instapaper, which allows users to save web pages so they can read them offline. The service boasts a few hundred thousand users and about three million page views a month.

Instapaper inspired Max Linksy and Aaron Lammer to create, which aggregates long-form journalism from as far back as 1899.

Another Instapaper grandchild is Mark Armstrong’s @LongReads, a Twitter account that links to long-form articles that currently has 4,500 followers.