Yesterday my January 2010 issue of Harper’s Magazine. There on page 17 is a great big full-page ad in red, white and black saying in part:
HARPERS MAGAZINE IS 100% CONTENT FREE!
It’s followed by a pitch for Harper’s excellent writing, reporting and commentary. The implication, of course, is that sites like where content is free are lacking – although they don’t say exactly what’s missing.
Although Harper’s is online, as are other publications and even stand-alone sites that have excellent writing, reporting and commentary, it seems to me the magazine is missing the point – comparing apples with oranges as it were.
I also read them because they come on paper which means I can curl up in bed with them or soak in the tub while reading or, when the weather is warmer, read them at the beach. Although Amazon’s Kindle and similar ebook readers show promise, they haven’t replaced paper yet.
Web content is another animal and until it becomes pleasant to read text on a computer screen, the best of web writing will mostly stay generally shortish. Short writing is a different kind of writing. Ideally content is more like the first several paragraphs of good newspaper writing used to be, giving us the who, what, why, where and when in a few paragraphs.
Sure there are long leisurely pieces of excellent writing on the web but it’s well known that readers tend to scan a web page rather than read it as we do a book or article on paper.
Which is why I go to the web for information – it blows me away what I can find with google. And someone has written everything I find that way.
I think content is here to stay. Did you know there are at least 20 types of online writing jobs?
Image from http://www.sxc.hu