I recently met with a client who dropped a bombshell: instead of the 300-400 word stories I’d been writing regularly for them, they were looking into shorter. Behind my placid smile and nods of encouragement, I thought: how is this possible? Storytelling was already a challenge at 300 words. What would it be at 150 or 250?
But the argument is hard to make in the face of analytics: the client showed how their impulse was based on that fact that their target audience (mostly students) were consistently clicking through on shorter stories.
So now it’s up to me, or I guess, us, writers, to figure out how to engage that interest. I think we writers in a time of analytics have it the hardest, because it’s hard to argue with the quantifiable. Before we could imagine how many readers we got. Now we know that the cat videos are winning, and issues-based journalism, not so much. Okay so that’s a bit cynical, but really, it’s the call to action to make the medicine more like the candy. Our livelihoods depend on it.