To be a better writer, you must read. It’s an adage everyone is familiar with, but nobody takes the time to follow. Unfortunately, the majority of online content that gets posted, shared and consumed isn’t longer than 500 words. Which is a pity, considering the Web offers so many choices for long form storytelling. There are your classic outlets that are known for publishing magazine stories, like the Atlantic and the New Yorker. Those are two organizations I would always recommend, but they can miss the mark when it comes to targeting younger audiences in their content. Here are four websites I’d recommend to get your #longreads fix.
Buzzfeed? For long form? The same website that is supposedly killing journalism with the listicle is also providing some of the most incisive news articles and cultural commentary for young people. It started as Buzzfeed Ideas, which was launched as a platform to publish personal essays from perspectives that are marginalized from the mainstream literary world. Since then, Buzzfeed has branded their long form content under Buzzfeed Reader, which encompasses news, commentary and essays. Most recently, Sylvia Obell contributed this fascinating story on how Blac Chyna rose from being hated by the Kardashians to becoming one.
(As a personal aside, read anything Anne Helen Petersen writes for Buzzfeed. If you like Hollywood gossip and you want to read it written by an intelligent person, she’s your girl. Examples include her analyzation of Kerry Washington’s publicity campaign, how Anna Kendrick avoids getting type-casted and Taylor Swift’s use of her “squad” as a marketing tactic.)
Atavist is a multimedia publishing platform similar to Medium. Accounts are free to create, but not necessary to view content. The main reason I recommend Atavist is because visually, it is stellar. Back in the days when you’d actually buy a magazine, part of the fun of reading was looking at the gorgeousness of the layout. Atavist has a sleek web design that makes it easy to scroll through articles while incorporating pictures, videos and data visualizations to give readers the full story. I recently used the site for a data visualization class and it made the story look 10 times more professional than say, an Emerson College WordPress Blog. Check out this piece by Candice Norwood on the changing face of DC’s Ward 1 to see how magical Atavist can be.
Longreads is part aggregator and part publisher. The topics posted on their site run the gamut; from stories on the sexism in Jewish divorce to reading lists on the current political state of Venezuela. Generally, their recommended pieces seem geared towards an older audience. Still, if you’re looking to get out of your news bubble and broaden your perspective, this is a good place to start. You can even subscribe to a roundup of their best stories of the week. So if you don’t have the time to seek these stories out, you can have someone do it for you!
An enlightening yet deeply disturbing piece I recently found through the site is The Waco Horror, written by Jesse Washington. It’s a story tracing the history of his name, as he details the notorious lynching of Jesse Washington in 1916.
I know the term “millenial” is overused and annoying (especially to those that it applies to), but if there was a website that deserved that label, it’s Fusion. It’s a TV channel, but their online content has expanded such that it is constantly updating throughout the day. Some of their headlines verge on clickbait-y (recent example: “These people know the minute you get their emails. It’s creepy, but brilliant.”). However, they’ve got some great writers on staff as contributors; check out anything written by Collier Meyerson. Most importantly, they put diversity of perspective at the forefront of their news mission.