It was a rainy December morning in Paris and transportations were on strike. Participants braved both to attend “The Future of Long Form Journalism,” a conference held at Paris Sciences’ Po School of Journalism. Thirty speakers from prestigious journalism schools and international media outlets — including London School of Journalism, Columbia Journalism School, The Wall Street Journal, BBC, France TV, Pew Research Center and more — were invited to share their views on the new trends emerging in every newsroom around the globe, including long format news content, immersive news podcasts and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
News media outlets are always looking to find new ways to catch and keep readers' attentions. Around the world, audiences are suffering from “news fatigue” making it harder and harder to catch and keep the public’s attention. How are media outlets today supposed to differentiate news from noise when consumers are being bombarded with more content than ever before? Journalists, reporters, editors and producers around the globe are all on the quest for the solution.
With Millennials and Gen Z audiences showing a growing appetite for new types of content that allow them to dive into the news, learn from it, engage with it and, ultimately, create an impact, newsrooms are inventing, testing and crafting new formats to meet their needs.
Long Form Content
One emerging format reporter are using to capture reader attention is long form storytelling. This format — whether it is digital, audio or print — is capturing attention and reshaping how narratives are being shared.
As journalists and editors brainstorm ways to continue to meet their audiences’ news expectations, they must overcome the three types of audience fatigue: contextual, sensual, decisional. High-quality long formats offer respite to this fatigue in an overwhelmed media world. As Jeffrey Gottfried from Pew Research Center mentioned: “Readers are tired of choosing. We let algorithms choose for us. Long forms enable us to get over these three issues.”
It is important to understand that long form journalism is not a substitute for short content but rather it is a complement, offering a deeper more explorative look into the issues being discussed. To maximize this balance, Heidi. News’, launched last year by Editorial Head Serge Michel, takes a different approach to ‘news feed’ and ‘explorations’ by using short and long formats to explore three distinctive news sectors: life sciences, innovation and climate. They use short form content to attract readers' attention and long form content to fully tell the story, stimulating fidelity and engagement. To maximize user engagement, Heidi.news publishes a bilingual print magazine featuring long form stories rewritten for the medium and a daily newsletter focusing on the day ahead and not the news of yesterday.
Immersive News Experience
Drawing audiences into a news story is another way for journalists to capture and keep audience interest. Interactive documentaries (like The Last Generation from Frontline-PBS) provide new multimedia experiences in news consumption. Meghan Sims, Director of Strategic Video Initiatives at McClatchy, discussed emerging tech and design immersive experience, 3D and virtual reality to advance nonfiction storytelling. Interactive stories are taking storytelling cues from Hollywood’s Black Mirror and Game of Thrones, using narrative mechanisms to introduce different perspectives that focus on telling the same story. These examples show how new ideas are making their way into existing formats — but with a news focus.
But the change in media formats is not limited to text or images. Audio is also a new playground for media pioneers. Podcasts are in vogue. Usage of voice-based services are growing by leaps and bounds. Partnerships between media groups and audio producers are soaring. Most media outlets are testing their podcast formats to see which formats are working best and which ones are not. For example, stories with interviews and testimonies have better results than stories with voice-overs.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
To close up the day, Charlie Beckett, Head of Polis — LSE and David Dieudonne from Google NewsLab. tackled the discussion of AI for journalism and its impact on all aspects of news organizations. AI allows publications to automate research and supplement coverage using a blend of technology and human insights. Publications like Associated Press and Bloomberg are already utilizing AI to generate coverage.
Interactive News Releases
We at Business Wire understand the rapid changes impacting news readership. We recognize that news releases will continue to change both in content and in format. To meet the needs of today’s consumers, more and more customers are distributing interactive news releases. Adding interactive elements to your news turns a traditional news release into a journey, where the customer clicks on interactive elements to uncover new content, leveraging the power of engagement and surprise to increase content adoption. If your goal is to increase audience engagement at a time when audience attention is limited, you must use tools designed for engagement. Traditional content, text and images, drives interest and traffic, but to maximize information adoption, use a platform designed to attract, engage and educate.
Journalism is a good barometer of PR and marketing trends ahead. A few years back, it was all about photos and videos when writing news and stories. As technology continues to impact journalism, we see more changes coming in the formats and approaches PR teams use to engage with audiences. Today we can see new directions taking form in front of our eyes. Today, the audience is king. And today’s audience wants to consume news on their time and in their formats. “Explore,” “learn,” “care,” “engage” and “impact” were the most cited words during this conference.
Visit Sciences Po School of Journalism site to see a recap of the conference talks (French & English).
Get the latest PR, IR, Marketing and Media tips on the Business Wire Blog. Subscribe today!