ProPublica’s readers like its long stories

Richard Tofel writes that 90 percent of people who responded to ProPublica’s readers survey are happy with the length of its stories. “Our longer features and investigations remain our most regularly read content, with engagement with our long-form stories growing from 79 percent in 2008 to 81 percent in 2010 to 86 percent in 2011.”

ProPublica’s not alone here. Long-form journalism is benefiting from new technologies (the iPad) and Web services (Instapaper, Read It Later), curation services (Longreads, Longform) and products (Kindle Singles, Byliner, The Atavist). Some stories on this trend:

Find something worthwhile on Longform’s “Best of 2011” and’s posts, with picks from The New York Times Magazine and others.

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  • Andrew Whitacre

    What hasn’t been proven yet — though I hope it soon is — is whether this speeds the division between long-form journalism funded by foundations and daily journalism funded by advertising and subscriptions.

    For example, ProPublica has a smaller audience than metro dailies, while metro dailies have fewer resources for long-form journalism. There could be a years-long gap before wide audiences read top-tier investigative journalism again.

    Tofel did a smart thing from the start, though: partnering ProPublica with metro dailies to magnify the reach of certain ProPublica stories. But to bridge the gap, more outlets need to try their model.