update #6

On 25 June 2022, I will be presenting ”The evolution of digital long-form journalism distribution practices through the analysis of an aggregator” at the Histories of Digital Journalism Conference.

In order to provide further understanding of digital long-form journalism and its evolving distribution practices, this paper focuses on Longform.org, one of the most prominent long-form content aggregators on the web. Drawing on scraped data from the archive and using digital methods (Rogers 2013), the paper will analyze two different years (2016 and 2020) of Longform.org’s activity, in order to demonstrate aggregators’ efficiency in exploiting datafication of news content (Mayer-Schönberger & Cukier 2013) and leveraging the long-tail (Anderson 2009) of archived material. Hence, the paper will be able to frame Longform.org’s evolution over time and assess in-depth its curatorial practices. The paper analyzes the frequency with which Longform.org draws from different types of publications, from digital-only outlets to magazines and daily newspapers and provides an outlook on the role of archived material. Founded in 2010 as an application at the time of the release of the first Apple iPad. Since 2017, its application is not available anymore in the main mobile platforms (Mac iOS and Android) and in 2022 it has ceased its article recommendation service. Its relevance is demonstrated by the traffic it has contributed to generate towards digital long-form journalism, regardless of publication date and outlet (Boynton 2013). More broadly, the paper assesses the evolution of aggregators as more efficient distributors of content if compared to traditional media outlets in relation to the long-tail theory developed by Anderson (2009). Anderson’s theory posits that the long-tail is defined by infinite choice, cheap distribution and limitless variety and frames aggregators as more efficient in distribution if compared to what he defines ‘entrenched’ industries (Anderson 2009: 88) such as news media production. Thus, analyzing an aggregator as Longform.org using this framework allows for it to be assessed within the current digital environment.

Keywords: digital journalism, long-form journalism, aggregators, long-tail, Longform.org, datafication

update #5

Journalism research has published a new, open-access article entitled ‘Journalism Aggregators: an Analysis of Longform.org’ written by Tobias Blanke, Jonathan Gray and myself.

The article is available here in English and here in German. The following is the article’s abstract which draws on work which has been published in the book ‘Yesterday’s News: The Future of Long-form Journalism and Archives’.

What is the significance of collection portals for large-format content in today’s journalism? This article advocates the thesis that they are becoming more important as an object of study in journalism research. Using the example of Longform.org , a leading collection portal for large-format content on the Internet, empirical analyses and theoretical conclusions are presented with the aid of digital methods. As we understand it, Longform.org uses datafication of news content to enhance the so-called long tail of archived material. Using digitally extracted archive data, we carry out an in-depth analysis of long-form portals. Longform.org while exhibiting some degree of curatorial diversity, older news media tend to be more prevalent. One of the main factors to appear on Longform.org is the accessibility of the digital media archives. Our analysis shows the relevant role of smaller, purely digital publications that offer a unique mix of sources. Using a network analysis of selected markings, we examine the composition of the topics, including the areas of personal, world politics, celebrities, technology and culture. The data and curatorial practices of long-form portals can be understood as the current form of today’s information transfer, through which earlier perspectives are more easily available, experienced and programmable on the Internet.

(23 August 2021)

Update #4

Courtesy of Peter Lang, the introduction to Yesterday’s News: The Future of Long-form Journalism and archives is available to read and download here.

(25 June 2021)

update #3

You can now have a look inside the book using Amazon’s ’Look Inside’ function, which allows to have a look at the first pages of the book, here.

(12 June 2021)

update #1

first update just to say that the website is going live today. The website is meant to collect information from various places and updates when as they happen.

(31 March 2021)