Josh Benton has a post about online narratives at our sister site, the Nieman Journalism Lab. Here’s an excerpt from it, describing a story that appeared on Gawker:
“Thomas’ story is about 2,000 words, and it’s a narrative. It spends a fair amount of time spinning backstory before getting to the juicy stuff. It was compelling reading if you were already fascinated by the balloon-boy tale, but it wasn’t a grabber for someone with a more casual interest.
So at the same moment the big Thomas piece was posted, Gawker also posted a bullet-laden summary of the piece — the CliffsNotes version of their own article.”
Josh praises Gawker for including the summary. He’s been making this argument about how to drive online readers to long-form stories for a while. The Gawker example shows he may have a point.