Premature obit for narrative journalism?

No one reads anymore.

It is a refrain heard often in discussions about the future of journalism, especially since it’s younger readers who aren’t reading newspapers and magazines. Give ’em short bites. Lots of photos. Q&As. Breakout boxes.

The advice makes intuitive sense. Online, we have become scanners and skimmers, with our eyes darting quickly from headline to blurb to hypertext link.

But there is another truism we should not forget: Everyone appreciates a well-told story.

It is why Garrison Keillor captivates millions standing at a microphone with his news from Lake Wobegon. It is why we sit in our car and listen to final seconds of an NPR story that has pulled us in during the drive home.

It is why the New York Times grabbed me this morning with the story of two Nepali immigrants who followed seemingly similar tracks to the United States but diverged greatly once reaching these shores.

Follow the link. Glance at the photo. Scan the headline. See if you can resist reading the narrative.

Everyone appreciates a well-told story. Let us not completely abandon this form of the craft.


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