The internet is killing journalism – but tablet culture may save it. Or, at least, that’s the view of Mike McCue, chief executive of Flipboard (Apple’s App of The Year) and new board member for Twitter, who told the LA Times that he thinks that the reading experience of the internet is detrimental to… well, reading:
he problem with journalism on the Web today is that it’s being contaminated by the Web form factor. What I mean is, journalists are being pushed to do things like slide shows — stuff meant to attract page views. Articles themselves are condensed to narrow columns of text across 5, 6, 7 pages, and ads that are really distracting for the reader, so it’s not a pleasant experience to ‘curl up’ with a good website.Journalism is being pushed into a space where I don’t think it should ever go, where it’s trying to support the monetization model of the Web by driving page views. So what you have is a drop-off of long-form journalism, because long-form pieces are harder to monetize. And it’s also hard to present that longer stuff to the reader because no one wants to wait four seconds for every page to load.
The good news, according to McCue, is that tablets like the iPad “reset” the online reading experience, allowing for easier-to-read long-form material to closer hew to magazine formats that readers are more comfortable with – something that, unsurprisingly, McCue’s Flipboard app does very well. It doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s wrong, however; format (and audience reading habits) have definitely influenced content creation, but new delivery systems offer a way to change that in future. Between things like Flipboard and Gawker Media dropping blog format, it seems as if many people are wondering what’s next, and how to get there first.
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