Barefoot | Maximize Jul 29, 2014

Journalism and the Smartphone

Ultimately, I am a writer.

One of the most ubiquitous statements in the age of digitalization is: “People don’t read any more, they just scan.”

As someone who reads 3 -4 books a week, magazine articles (in their entirety) and almost anything I can get my hands on, I’ve always wondered if I was just odd. But it seems I have a friend in Frank Rose, whose article (Immerse Yourself: Why the smartphone means a golden age for journalism) affirms some of my thinking.

The Atlantic, well known for thorough journalism (read: long articles), had a million people read a 6,200 word article on a digital device with an average time spent on the article being 25 minutes.

Like Frank, I don’t think people are stupid. I think they are smart, informed and looking for interesting writing that engages, invigorates and stimulates thinking. Idealist that I am, I think that’s what journalism is all about.

I agree, the digital world has made some attempts at volume rather than quality, but most of the ventures are short lived.  Rose cites Demand Media, a “content farm”, whose business model was content by volume, dictated by algorithms to direct topic, theme and issue. Every company wants that – cheap, fast and many.

But – oops – they missed the option of interesting, appealing to real people and well crafted. The company lived for 2 years – a mere blip.

Like Rose, I think the smartphone lets me engage in great writing ANYWHERE I go. At home I deflect to the tablet, but on-the-go the tablet is clumsy and just too big (she says remembering the first “portable” computer she owned was an Apple 2C that required an apple box to haul it around).

I have great faith in human nature and believe we seek out content that has guts, smarts and passion – not yet another list.

This is a great time for journalism and writers. A time when you can reach your audience easily, where they are, any time, night or day. The caveat – be great, not just good. Write with personality. Write well.

You can read Rose’s article in WIRED, August 2014

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From The Blog:
Journalism and the Smartphone
title

With the naked simplicity of advertising,
we are committed to tell the truth
to people who need to know
in places they frequent
in ways that meet the client's goals.