During just the first three days of this week, seven long stories from various series appeared on the front page of the paper, my assistant Joseph Plambeck has found. Readers who move along at 250 words a minute would need to spend an average of 20 minutes each morning just to get through the approximately 15,000 words from those articles in the past three days.
Why this deluge of fine journalism just when many readers are already busy with holiday activities? I’m fairly certain it’s because Dec. 31 is a deadline for the most significant journalism contests. Editors at The Times, like those at many other newspapers, probably are rushing out the final installments of important series so they can be included in the entry package in various contests.
Are readers well served by such an abundance of demanding articles?
Oh, hell no. By all means, let’s keep things short right about now because people are trying to shop. I mean … I’m sorry … I just … don’t mind the mess, just my head exploding.
When precisely is the right time to challenge our readers? Should we suck throughout December and then ramp things up in July? But people are on vacation then! What about in March? St. Patrick’s Day might distract them. Hmm, October? Back to school madness. It’s so hard, isn’t it? Everybody’s just too busy right now to read.
Yeah, that’s a lot of stories and a lot of words and a lot of attention being asked of people. But I assume they wouldn’t be picking up the New York Times if all they wanted was a quick check of the inujury reports before heading to the OTB. And I don’t think discouraging serious and detailed journalism at ANY time is something the public editor of a newspaper really ought to be doing.