It’s been just a couple months since the media world debated whether Forbes writer Kashmir Hill went overboard in her curation of an NYT story on Target’s predictive analytics. Basically, Hill slapped a way better headline on the piece, pulled in a bunch of quotes, added some of her own prose, and got a ton of traffic.
Oh, and her piece was much shorter.
What did NYT learn? Apparently nothing. They have an awesome long form piece up today about Walmart’s consistent record of bribery in Mexico. It’s a damning piece executed to perfection. It’s also really, really long.
So why doesn’t NYT have a 400 word version published alongside it?
I love longform journalism, but even if every other reader did too, we all tend to read longform stuff about the issues we care most about. This is an important news item that falls outside of my core interests, and I want to know the basics. No doubt there are a lot of other readers who feel the same way.
In my case I read about 60% and skimmed the rest, but plenty of other readers are going to end up on the HuffPo version that captures the story in a few hundred words.
Why doesn’t the NYT beat them to the punch? The longform narrative obsessives and those with deep interest in Mexico, corruption, corporate citizenship, etc. will still read the long version.
But to not offer the bite size option is to cede an opportunity. You’ve already done all the hard reporting. Take even just a few minutes to think about the product.