I gave a talk on Wednesday night about small towns and the economic changes affecting them. I was in the small town where one of my seven recent essays was based. I had a small crowd of mostly friends show up.
I mentioned a recent dust up that occurred on Facebook on “You Know You’re From Lisbon If….”
That’s the problem with most of the communication on social media sites. It’s always, “I like __________ and you should too. Oh, you don’t? Well, you suck.” I exaggerate slightly, but the frame of Facebook is fairly narrow and all too often, binary.
It’s pretty clear reading through most of the back and forth that takes place on this popular social media platform that people’s source for information and news is fragmented at best.
Long gone are the days when most of the people in a given geographic location received their news from a local newspaper. In Lisbon and Lisbon Fallls, the local paper was run by Norm Fournier. Before him, it was John Gould.
If you look at most of the updates and comments on a site like Facebook, they’re somewhere in the range of 25 to 40 words—not even the length of a credible newspaper or magazine lede. Most feature articles in the newspaper are 750 to 1,000 words. Most of my blog posts are similar in length. Long-form narrative journalism articles, the kind found in magazines like The New Yorker can run 10,000+.
Longer isn’t always better, but nuance takes more than 140 characters, 25 to 40 words, and often, a lot more words than a short news feature allows.
Spending time crafting combinations of them to tell a story takes work, some skill, and it’s something that I think still matters.
I’m happy that others think it’s important, also.