Ever since the release of the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Snow Fall: The Avalance At Tunnel Creek" by the New York Times, we have seen a tremendous shift towards presenting news in a manner that both takes the reader on a storytelling journey and makes full use of interactive and responsive web design. This format is commonly referred to as longform storytelling and has been used effectively by a number of news organizations including The Washington Post, ESPN, The Guardian and Pitchfork.
Longform articles typically contain a lot of content and often (although not exclusively) take on a journalistic or narrative form. Creating longform projects requires significant resources - not only for video, photography, maps and interactive graphics, but also for the software development team to bring everything together. This is where we at Sourcefabric thought we could be of service, and is the reason why we created Storyteller.
How will longform help engage readers in your story?
Stories are important. If you are in doubt of the transformative powers of storytelling, take a look at How stories change hearts and brains by Elizabeth Svoboda: "Stories allow us to travel, time and again, outside the circumscribed spaces of what we believe and what we think possible. It is these journeys - sometimes tenuous, sometimes exhilarating - that inspire and steel us to navigate uncharted territories in real life."
As I am sure that many of you can agree, regular plain text articles that include a few photos are interesting enough, but when an interactive longform project is done right, it is easy to suddenly find yourself immersed in the most unexpected topics. Through a masterful use of multimedia, you find yourself engaged in a way that was not possible before. Therein lies the power of longform storytelling.
The other aspect of longform storytelling that makes it appealing is the ability to stay on one page through the duration of a whole story. It is easy to be drawn to one of the hundred or so external links within an article that take you to a new page or video. Readers rarely have the focus to return to the original article again. With a longform article, the links, photos, videos and data visualizations can be included in the piece itself. They are all displayed in the same distraction-free space. All of this serves to significantly decrease the bounce rate on the part of readers.
Now that we have discussed the merits of longform storytelling, let's get started with implementing the theme.
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