No, this isn’t the first in a series of twenty questions, it’s an inquiry into how we prefer to read news and digest other printed media while surfing the Internet. Since the way we use the internet can say a lot about us, let’s look at the good, the bad, and the ugly for three general types and see where we fit in.
Article (Avg. length: 800 – 1,200 words)
The Good – The Methuselah of information sharing, it was born in print before transitioning to binary and is the stalwart champion of Internet news. If you stay within the bounds of credible media, you can be relatively sure that what you’re reading is fact and not the ranting of a lunatic in his mother’s basement. Reading a legitimate news article will make you smarter and enhance your worldview. You’ll dazzle your friends with all the things you know about the world.
The Bad – Reading only credible new articles can not only be boring, but it can severely jam your pop culture radar. If you learned what twerking was only after the Miley Cyrus incident, you may have fallen victim to this.
The Ugly – Who has time to read 1,200 words on something like the history of the conflict in Syria and its repercussions throughout the Middle East? Reading an article takes more time than a lot of people are willing to sacrifice to digest news. With easier opportunities enticing us only a click away, it’s easy to give in to temptation.
Listicle (Avg. length: 250 – 350 words)
The Good – A funny quirky idea presented as a list with pictures to go with each point – what more could you want? The entire thing is so short you can read three or four on a ten minute drive to work (not actually recommended).
The Bad – So many pictures and animated .gifs, though occasionally relevant and funny, disrupt the flow of the content and make the experience more akin to searching for new cat memes.
The Ugly – The complete lack of journalistic credibility can really let the air out of your tires if you’re citing Buzzfeed as your primary source for your next big life choice.
Blog (Avg. length: 400 – 500 words)
The Good – At a reading time of about five minutes, it provides the hugely accessible middle ground between the article and the listicle. Pictures are used in moderation to enhance the text rather than snuff if out and unique ideas can be expressed more freely without the presence of an iron-fisted editor.
The Bad – While they’re a great source for interesting ideas and opinions, blogs are still not a legitimate source for news. If you want to read about current events, you’re much better off with news articles.
The Ugly – Blogs also suffer from a lack of journalistic credibility, but are still miles ahead of listicles. Also, blogs can gain credibility over time where it’s unlikely that listicles will ever manage to do the same.
It may be obvious that a mix of these three would be perfect, but in what ratio? What type of digital printed media do you prefer?