The Center for Public Integrity's first HTML5 project is live. The idea behind the project is to make reading long-form journalism enjoyable on any digital platform, by creating an app-like experience in a web browser. There has been some concern among news organisations that online, at least, it is more difficult to appreciate long in-depth articles than it is in print.
Applications, particularly for tablets, are perceived as offering a more comfortable and convenient reading experience for longer work, and less distraction. This belief is reflected by the launch a service founded earlier this year called Longform.org works with Instapaper to allow interested readers to select long-form stories on the Longform site, which are then stored in the reader's account to read at their leisure on their iPhone or iPad via Instapaper.
Nieman Lab's Laura McGann spoke to CPI's chief digital officer John Solomon last week, who told her that the organisation believed it had created a better way to consume investigative reporting at a much lower cost than developing apps for different devices. CPI is working with a platform called Treesaver.
The investigation, Looting the Seas, is the result of a two-year effort by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (an international project of the CPI) looking at the factors that are depleting the oceans of fish. Accessible from CPI's website, when you jump into the project it looks far more app-like than like a traditional website. The cover page is very visual, and allows access to the different sections of the report.
The text is clear and the amount and size adapts to fit the size of the browser window. Readers can flick between pages with left and right arrows, or by scrolling up or down on the screen. A pop-up menu offers the option to print, share on Twitter, return to the contents page or to the CPI website. Links and videos jump out of the project.
Overall, the online experience is certainly more 'app-like' and echoes reading in print more than a standard website does. Reading the articles on the iPhone is a similarly smooth experience and it is easy to forget that you are not looking at an app.
Is this kind of technological innovation the way to get people reading long-form journalism online?
Slate has shown faith in long-form journalism online with its 'Fresca' initiative that requires journalists to take time to produce long pieces of writing, and, according to another Nieman Lab article written in July, Slate has made a good case for long-form on the web. Clearly, much of the success of any journalism will be due to the quality of the content, but displaying it in a pleasant, easy-to-navigate fashion can't do any harm.
The Centre for Public Integrity is currently changing making significant changes to its digital strategy, with the help of a recent $1.7 million grant from the Knight Foundation, amidst a greater strategic overhaul that intends to make the Center's website a more popular destination.
Source: Nieman Lab