When I was in journalism school, professors would say to give an article what it’s worth, meaning that a story’s value and the attention needed to cover it well should dictate the story’s length.
As we strive to adjust to Internet readers’ short attention spans, we seem to have forgotten that advice. Listicles, infographics and curated summaries dominate our news feeds. These formats get us in and out of stories as quickly as possible.
However, new research from Pew indicates that those journalism professors’ advice still holds true. People do read long-form content—even on smartphone screens.
Pew researchers spent months digging into 117 million anonymous cellphone interactions with 74,840 articles from 30 websites in September 2015. They concluded that long-form content still has a place in a world of short attention spans.
The study revealed that although short news content is far more prevalent than long content (and thus draws more traffic), readers access long-form articles at nearly the same rate as short ones.