From: RJI Online


Three RJI Research Scholars spent the past year studying the effectiveness and sustainability of long-form digital journalism. This is the fifth in a five-part series based on 53 interviews with millennials to gauge this audience’s reception to long-form journalism delivered on mobile platforms.

Millennials who designed their own long-form projects on cellphones as part of paper prototyping reduced the amount of text that appeared in their redesign by three-fourths and increased the use of infographics, video, and interactive images. Going forward, they said, the genre of long-form journalism on mobile devices should be even more visual.

Make visuals meaningful

Visual elements, such as photos, infographics, timelines, video and games have the potential to immerse users into geographies other than their own. Data become tangible. Stories become personal. The project also becomes more relevant. “It’s like the story is in front of you, not a recreation of it,” one participant said. “It makes it more real, like you’re there, versus someone just recounting the events.”

Visuals also attract readers to long-form projects, participants in all four studies suggested, allowing users to become aware of the project, choose to interact with it, and decide on their own how much time they will spend with it. As one eye-tracking participant said, “ [A] visual is always better at catching people’s attention. … I can look for two minutes, get the idea and move on.”


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