News & Opinion

"We are living in times where people value expertise & thoughtfulness"

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Media Show this week, editor of the Times Literary Supplement Stig Abell discussed why people are reading long-form journalism.

With the TLS's total circulation up by 27.6% year on year and having recorded its highest sales in six years according to latest ABC data, what's behind the increased demand for its long-form, printed content?

Abell told presenter Julian Worricker: "I think it's a bit of a counter culture arising. With the advent of fast food in the 1980s, you got the slow food movement and organic food and people caring about ingredients and lingering over their meals and I think the same thing is happening in culture more broadly. We live in a world where information is democratised and that's broadly positive, people can get access to information quickly and easily, but it also carries with it the risks of standards falling, of stuff being churned out quickly and glibly and without proper information."

In this context, "where everything is just a click away", Abell believes that "there's probably a premium on expertise" and "in a way, print journalism, offers a corrective to the culture".

He elaborated: "People do value, in that environment, a bit of expertise, a bit of length and a bit of trouble".

While "it's very easy in your Twitter feed, in your Facebook feed to get constantly self-reinforcing, straight forward arguments... information that bounces around because it feeds your belief system already", Abell says people then want "20 minutes reading something difficult, something challenging that's expansive and maybe acts as a corrective to a prevailing wisdom".

Listen to the programme here.

by Jessie Sampson 16/02/17

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