Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Future Of Web Publishing And Journalism Online: Key Trends For 2014 And Beyond - Part III

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What are the key trends, patterns and changes that are going to transform the web publishing and journalism industries in the near future?

Photo credit: Cyber man with technolgy eye by Shutterstock

While in Part I and Part II of this series I have looked at:

a) Process Journalism

b) 100% Solution

c) News as a Learning Gateway

and at:

1) Dusk of Blogs

2) Beyond WordPress

3) Instant Publishing

4) Invisible UI

5) Design Intelligence

6) Design Marketplaces

In Part III, I am analyzing three key trends that will be influencing and affecting in a significant way the way we work and produce news and content in the years to come.

These three trends are:

1) Long Format

2) Content Curation

3) Content Preservation

Let's look at each one of them in detail.


1) Long Form


Long text articles, short curated news stories, which will be the driving trend in the future?

Short text, as in the format defined by Twitter, as well as the one popularized by news streams, social media posts and content curation platforms, is certainly not going to see any slowdown.

There will only be more of it.

But what about long-form journalism?

"To understand a broad topic, sometimes you need more than a quick answer".
Source: Discover great in-depth articles on Google, Google - Aug. 2013

If you are wondering how appealing would be a comeback of the long-format text production,
here some of the reasons why long-form is very likely making a strong comeback:

  • Readers interest
    People looking not just for superficial headlines and gossip but increasingly for in-depth understanding of a topic, issue or event.
  • Overabundance of low-quality content
    "Thin", shallow and superficial content dominates online popular destinations, from news portals, to magazines and blogs.
  • Scarcity of high-quality, in-depth content
    Little high-value, long-format content is available outside topics relevant to academic and scientific circles. Blogs and social media all generally utilize the short format approach.
  • Curation opportunities
    Caused by 1) Readers Interest and 2) Overabundance of low-quality content offer great opportunity to distinguish oneself with long-format comprehensive content productions.
  • Evergreen potential
    High-quality long-format content has much greater potential to remain valuable for a long-time to come.
    "Thoughtful in-depth content that will remain relevant for months or even years after publication".
    Source: Discover great in-depth articles on Google
  • Visibility
    Google has recently started to specifically reward in-depth, high-quality content available on any topic inside its SERPs.

In Google's words:

"Our goal is to surface the best in-depth articles from the entire web. In general our algorithms are looking for the highest quality in-depth articles, and if that's on a local newspaper website or a personal blog, we'd like to surface it".
Source: Google Introducing "In-Depth Articles" To Search Results

What about the proof?

Solid proof that long-form journalism is a strong emerging trend is the recent popularity and rapid adoption of a new unique, long-form news journalism format that has been greeted with a huge and quite unexpected welcome by readers and which has then exploded in use and application across many online newspaper and web magazines.

This new journalism "format" is called "Snowfallen" and it has taken its name from a very popular article by the same name ("Snow Fall - The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek") published in 2012 by the New York Times and covering a deadly avalanche which had taken place at Tunnel Creek.

The key traits of this new storytelling format are generally characterized by a very long, scrollable, one-page text feature, illustrated with impactful images, video clips and other visual material.

Bobbie Johnson
, of Medium / Matter, has recently put together a comprehensive list of all feature articles that have adopted this new original format, which has literally exploded in 2013.

Before 2013 there had been in fact only 22 articles using this format, but in 2013 the number has skyrocketed to 138. In the first two months of 2014, there have already been 30+ new ones.

Here is the full catalog of all SnowFallen stories: Slate Story Index: Interesting stories

Source: Snowfallen - Just because you can, it doesn't mean you should.

See also:

See also:

Aesop Storytelling Engine - specifically designed to create SnowFall-like article stories.

Duration: 1':49'' - Title: Aesop Storytelling Engine - Nick Haskins presents ASE, an open-source suite of tools to create long-form storytelling themes for WordPress.


2) Content Curation


It looks inevitable to me, that if the quantity of information available online keeps growing at an ever speedier pace than we have now, the ability to find, organize and curate information on specific topics will only grow proportionally in value and importance.

In fact, I expect that in the next few years you will see a blooming of curation apps and curators creating highly valuable collections on the most disparate topics and issues.

In other words: content curation is not a fad, a trendy technique, or something you will not be doing in five or ten years from now.

The fad is in selling and promoting the idea of Content Curation as a content marketing solution. This is a fad.

The promise that by curating instead of creating one can not only save time but also produce more valuable content can be quite misleading as it puts emphasis on the technique, form and on its immediate visibility and time-saving benefits, while forgetting other key relevant aspects such as the need for in-depth verification, quality-assurance, adding value, crediting as well as the potential for negative impact on a curator reputation and credibility.

If it is true that by next year the quantity of Internet content will literally double every few days, then it does seem quite reasonable to invest time and resources in either inventing tools and systems that can help us improve our abilities to find, organize, archive and present information collections, or in starting to curate a specific information area with whatever tools and instruments are available now.

From my personal viewpoint, I can already see a huge and fast-growing need for a new generation of content curators, information organizers and reliable filters who can provide better resources and answers in specific areas than Google could ever do.

There is a growing demand for finding reliable, trusted category experts capable of providing unbiased bundles of content, pathways, and specialized directories designed to help those wanting to learn and understand in greater depth a specific topic or issue.

Now that individuals are starting to understand that the knowledge they need does not reside in any particular course or academic institution, the role once under the monopoly of certified experts, professors, schools and universities, will gradually be transferred back to individuals competing and cooperating with each other: information, digital, data and content curators will become the new gateways to learn and to knowledge. Their certification credentials will come from their published work and from the testimonials and reviews of others.

Thus, even search engines and universities, for however big and unmutable as we think of them today could very well be deeply revolutionized by a new generation of highly dedicated and skilled content curators.

Content curation or the art and science of organizing information under a specific context and for a specific need / audience, will radically transform not just search and education, but also journalism and, in my view, the overall field of content publishing (digital and print).

In a world where there are zillions of informations, pictures, clips, articles and guides, who wins is not who has or produces the most of these, but who knows where the good ones are, and the relationships and traits characterizing them.

See also:

Photo credit: Internet map as of 16th January 2009

Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Google, has said: "Five exabytes of information have been created between the dawn of civilization and 2003, but that much information is now created every two days, and the pace is increasing".
From: The Coming Age of the Curation Economy

Examples and Tools:


3) Content Preservation


Though we may have not yet fully realized or felt the direct consequences of it, we have more than tangible proof that Internet content, web pages and links to specific articles, tools and resources are not there forever. They are bound to disappear, be deleted, moved, abandoned, censored, transferred to new locations or permanently removed.

And this is true not just for a limited number of web pages and information resources, but for a very significant and growing percentage of all the content published online. We are talking about 40% of it or more.

In other words, the issue and trend I am highlighting is the fact that Internet content lacks ways and controls that allow it to be fully preserved in ways that facilitate easy retrieval and finding.

If it wasn't for the non-profit Internet Archive and few other isolated initiatives, which have invested major resources and time to properly archive and make accessible truckloads of valuable digital content, the only other entities having truly control of such planetary archives are the search engines.

Obviously there are many situations in which we actually do want specific content to be deleted, erased or censored, and that is OK. What will be changing is our awareness of how significant is the quantity of content that we are losing daily and as a consequence the number of efforts, initiatives, tools and services that will appear specifically to provide better ways to preserve the good stuff that can be useful for others for a long time to come.

Of course no one company or organization preserving online content can truly guarantee to stay in business forever, but given the fact that in a few years each one of us will be able to carry within our smartphone information collections of wikipedian size, it is likely that the ultimate solution will be something we can hardly imagine now: a distributed Internet archive residing in every person pocket, and where you are the one to decide what's actually stored.

See also:

List of tools that have recently appeared to resolve this problem:

Tools to check linkrot on your web site:

  • Xenu Link Xleuth (PC)
  • Integrity (Mac)
  • Deadurl
    Gathers and ranks alternate urls for a broken link using Google Cache, the Internet Archive, and user submissions.Typing left of a broken link in the browser's address bar and pressing enter loads a ranked list of alternate urls, or (depending on user preference) immediately forwards to the best one.


End of Part III
See Part I - Future Of Web Publishing And Journalism Online: Key Trends For 2014 And Beyond - Part I
and Part II - Future Of Web Publishing And Journalism Online: Key Trends For 2014 And Beyond - Part II


Originally written and curated by Robin Good and first published on MasterNewMedia on Tuesday February 25th 2014 as Future Of Web Publishing And Journalism Online: Key Trends For 2014 And Beyond - Part III.

Photo credits:
Long Form - Stretch limo by Shutterstock
Content Curation - Male hand selecting images by Shutterstock
Content Preservation - Key in a deposit box by Shutterstock

Robin Good -
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posted by Robin Good on Tuesday, February 25 2014, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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