Tow Center Releases Digital Longform Project Findings and Longform Best Practices

The Tow Center’s Tow Fellow Anna Hiatt has released the findings of her Future of Digital Longform Project as well an executive summary detailing best practices for digital longform.


“All The Space in The World” chronicles a handful of different companies whose evolutions over the last six or so years are representative of the tensions facing longform journalism publishers. When I began this project, I was curious to know if The New York Times‘ “Snow Fall” had become the gold standard for online storytelling. But it quickly became clear that wasn’t the question to ask. Designs rise and fade in popularity. What stood out to me were questions of purpose and access. Why, I wanted to know, do certain news organizations devote resources to telling a story in depth? And what steps are media companies taking to ensure wide-ranging and longterm access to their stories?

SEE All The Space in The World

Over the course of the last six years, a number of start-ups dedicated to longform journalism have launched, and though their business models and presentation of stories have differed, one thing has unified them: their devotion to narrative nonfiction. Additionally, legacy organizations like The Times are devoting newsroom resources to telling in-depth stories with digitally-immersive design.

Five case studies make up the bulk of this project, starting with Playboy and the control Apple exerts over content producers, then Narratively, the Commercial Appeal, Longform and Longreads, and finally, Pocket. The executive summary distills some best practices for longform, and lessons learned. And in the appendices you’ll find coverage of the Tow Center’s December 6 Future of Digital Longform Conference, which I organized.

Read more:

Capital New York | Three Principles of Long-Form Digital Story Design
Romenesko | Morning Report for March 5, 2013

Anna Hiatt is a Tow Fellow working on the Tow Center’s Longform Journalism Project at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism. The Longform Journalism Project is a project made possible by generous funding from both The Tow Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The goal of the Longform Journalism Project is to examine and define digital longform content. Follow Anna Hiatt on Twitter @ahiatt. To learn more about the Tow Center Fellowship Program, please contact the Tow Center’s Research Director Taylor Owen: