There’s a recent trend that I’ve noticed in journalism lately: making stories conversational.
Quartz’ newsexting* app is what made me stop and actually think about it, but it has been happening for quite some time now. Thanks to comedians like John Oliver, Stephen Colbert and the satirical superstar Jon Stewart, American news commentary has splintered off in an interesting way.
Note the distinction I make between their being comedians and not journalists. That is incredibly important.
There is a difficult balance that has to be maintained between legitimate journalism and entertainment. The Onion is the perfect example of this dichotomy. While news parody is fun, I do find it worrisome when people share an Onion story, thinking it is legitimate journalism.
But maybe that’s the key difference between “hard-hitting journalism” and entertainment like that found in Quartz’ new app. Good, impartial journalism is more often than not – boring. It is an unfortunate side effect.
Some might say that Quartz is trying to make news interesting by following the formula of what made “Choose Your Own Adventure” books fun. But I think what is more interesting will be to see how readers respond and comment on the stories that Quartz curates and shares, and what Quartz eventually does with this data.
While I don’t think the Quartz app is indicative of what the future of journalism looks like completely, I do believe that it is a step in the right direction. Written content does need to change so it can be shared in a world that is completely addicted to being online and connected at all times. Whether that content evolves into nothing more than a clickable RSS feed, or be converted into short, pithy stories that are widely shared, still remains to be seen.
*I know news-texting would be technically more accurate, but…. Newsexting. Come on.