Quartz publisher: Why we go short, or very long
Quartz publisher Jay Lauf spoke at the Nieman Foundation and his comments have been posted on the Nieman Journalism Lab website.
Here are his comments about the story lengths on Quartz stories:
We tend to focus on stories that are either short, meaning under 500 words, or longer, deeply investigated pieces. We use analytics as guideposts. Everything from the original interface of the site to the way we do our journalism is informed by data, but I think there’s as much art to it as there is science.
If you take a look at your top 100 stories in a given year, you can start to glean what works and what doesn’t. There are always exceptions to this rule. But what tends to work in the social ecosystem in terms of gaining traffic and gaining eyeballs is one of those two things, rather short or rather long stories. Either be succinct—usually that involves some infographics—or say the most definitive thing on a subject, make a must-read. Those are the things that people tend to share most or come back and read most.
What I see is if you submit a 600-word piece, not every time but a good chunk of the time, the editor’s going to say, “Does this really need to be that long?” If there’s a “there” there, it might be “Why don’t you take five more days or two more weeks and do more reporting and actually say something bigger? I think there’s a bigger point to be made here.”
We try to entertain and inform at the same time with charts. A chart can stand on its own on Quartz just like a cute picture of a cat might. In the same way that a cute cat video may be the hottest thing on BuzzFeed, Quartz content that has charts tends to be some of the highest-ranking articles in terms of traffic.
Read more here.