A Few Thoughts On Longform, Inspired By The Current Debate Over Its Significance And Necessity In Our Fast-Changing Media Landscape

Most longform is bad. The problem arises from the “long” part. If you need more than 600 words to say what you need to say you are trying too hard for accolades or you’re getting paid by the word. It is unfortunate that society conflates length with depth and quantity with complexity, but no one who cuts the checks will agree to pay more for less. Any writer who tells you he cannot reduce his prose to a digestible number of sentences is lying because he’s afraid that if he does he’ll blow the whole scam for everyone else. Are there some stories so intricate that they actually demand tens of thousands of words to tell them? Sure. Maybe six or seven a year. Everything else you read is padding or awards-bait. The problem with the Internet is that we feel like something needs bloat (or “heft,” depending what side of the screen you’re on) so that it seems more substantial than a listicle, but when you see what people do with all the extra words they dump in for prestige purposes you start to think that maybe, in spite of how stupid they are making us, listicles aren’t all bad. Everything you’ve just read added up to 200 words, and even then you were probably already in agreement at “Most longform is bad.” I believe that settles the debate. Thank you.

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