Brian Carovillano, AP’s managing editor for U.S. news, sent a memo to staff saying stories are getting too long and the news co-op’s members “do not have the resources to trim the excess to fit shrinking news holes.” Most stories should be between 300 to 500 words, Erik Wemple reports, and state top stories shouldn’t be longer than 700 words.
Carovillano suggests ways to hit those targets. No. 1: Stick to the word count you were assigned. No. 2: “Consider using alternative story forms either to break out details from longer stories, or in lieu of a traditional text story.”
So is AP getting into the listicle business? A search for a BuzzFeed-style list from AP proved fruitless (full disclosure: I have illustrated some AP Stylebook changes with GIFs) but a lucky blogger can find some items that show AP is not averse to playing with form:
- “UN Panel: 8 Reasons to Worry About Global Warming” (330 words). Also: A Putin listicle (836 words).
- Every day AP publishes a list of “10 Things to Know for Today,” which I find very useful. Monday’s edition is 350 words long.
- An article about school lunches around the world, illustrated with photos from different countries (745 words).
- A list of ways to avoid government snooping, along with their possible downsides (1,074 words).
- A Higgs boson explainer(509 words: Sweet spot!)
- Photo galleries: Here’s one of sailors returning home, and another accompanying Rukmini Callimachi’s story of finding bodies in the Malian desert.
- AP’s most recent annual report is sort of “Snow Fall”-like.