“It’s pretty shocking to see what’s become of the time-honored form since the newspaper industry’s great unraveling started a decade ago,” Starkman wrote.
The industry saw a steady rise of long-form contextual journalism from the 1950s to the early 2000s, according to a new report by Katherine Fink and Michael Schudson of Columbia University. But Starkman’s research suggests that such in-depth coverage might have peaked about a decade ago.
Starkman examined The L.A. Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times and reported that all but The New York Times saw steep declines in their long-form coverage. The Post’s 2,000 word stories dropped about 50 percent between 2003 and 2012, and The Journal’s fell 35 percent. These declines are even sharper for 3,000 word stories: The L.A. Times saw a 90 percent decrease and The Journal a 70 percent decrease.