August 25, 2015

Four reasons why longreads aren’t dead

by Pratika Yashaswi

The information explosion that came with the Internet is both a blessing as well as a curse. A blessing because it gives an exciting number of opportunities and avenues to explore knowledge, many sides of it.  A curse because, it gives rise to a certain anxiety (did someone say FOMO?) and existential dread that comes with knowing that for all the excitement it brings, you’ll never get to read everything on it. Against this background, we spend less and less time with what we read, and it tends to be from numerous, scattered sources. It is a rare online publication (that first, merits the term) that gives us an incentive to stop, browse beyond the seven seconds we’re told we max-out at, and maybe return to it again.

We put together a non-exhaustive list of websites from India that we think are managing to hold their ground in a hurricane of attention-minting content by making an art of online publishing. Every single one of them is a pleasure to browse through, and maybe even bookmark.

 

Mukha

“Mukha brings you stories of inspiring people from around the world who are challenging the routine and redefining the meaning of success.

Mukha

Mukha refers to the persona or the aura of an individual. Every individual interview on Mukha is custom-designed according to the content and the interviewee, and is a collaborative effort between a writer, photographer and designer. In spite of this, there aren’t any wild variations in presentation from piece to piece, every visual reflects a bold and naked aesthetic, which shows clean through every photograph and header-design. Each article-header is designed separately and every article is a long, indulgent read. Mukha is currently going through a revamp and hasn’t published any new content for months, but it is worth a mention here because the pleasure of reading a Mukha interview isn’t dependent on timing. Among our favourites are this piece on Njuhi Chege and Khairani Barokka.

 

Untold

“Untold stories, told passionately”

Untold

Untold features stories which are too beautiful to be told in ordinary ways. The idea is to make every piece a multifaceted and dynamic experience that goes beyond the written word. Every piece is artfully crafted with words, photographs, film and music complementing each other as part of a poetic presentation. We wrote about it recently here. Some of our favourite stories from this site are From Goa to Outer Space, an Interstellar Raga from India, which tells the story of Kesarbai Kerkar, whose song ‘Jaat Kahan Ho’ is currently in a time-capsule on its way out of the solar system;  and Fighting for the Buddha. If you have an untold story, you can actually contribute here.

 

Newslaundry

“We at Newslaundry are from the world of news and want to turn the mirror on ourselves. No one should be above scrutiny – not politics, not industry, not civil society, not the media. Not them, not you, not us, not I, not he, not she – no one.”

Newslaundry

Nothing impresses more than a strong, unifying sense of purpose. This website gets extra credit for doing what it does with humor. In a country full of questionable journalistic practices in the political field, Newslaundry stands out in its effort to bring transparency and credibility to the media, beginning with themselves. They are transparent about their ownership pattern, and the backgrounds of their writers, and they are open to being contacted. Its taglines, headings and titles are full of clever wordplay that usually connect to laundry as metaphor. “Sabki Dhulai”, “Washboard”, “Dhobi Ghat” and “Election Wash” produce mental chuckles, but their choice to put a bit of effort into making its content appealing does not undermine the quality of the pieces.

Established and run by a team dominated by experienced journalists, writing is a huge part of what they do, and it is of good quality. But over and above this, their other practices and productions, including their podcasts, polls, and investigations of journalists’ biases in “Political Character in 140 Characters” section show an active pursuit of objectivity. Of course, cartoons and other visuals are included in that list. They have hilarious comics and memes (featuring the work of Sumit Kumar, who is behind Bakarmax.) which are of interest, and also have a comprehensive collection of video content that makes information more consumable.

 

Campus Diaries

“To connect and empower students and universities across the world with the resources and recognition they deserve.”

Campus-Diaries-1

With a six-figure readership, it may be on its way to becoming a leading community-based publishing entity. A relaxed interface allows one to choose what to see first. It is a platform that is easily accessible for students to publish on and features some stunning online content, as can be seen in the photo story A Flick of the Wrist and opinion piece Dealing with the Law as a Freelance Artist. All this seamlessly contributes to furthering its purpose.

Campus Diaries produces Unmagazine, which is a popular print publication meant for students. It engages well with its community through its internships and through supporting several successful student-initiated projects. Projects like the Airplane Poetry Movement, to promote performance poetry; and Project Roobaroo, a crossover narrative journalism initiative done in collaboration with students from Pakistan; ensure interaction among the readers and writers of Campus Diaries, which is so necessary to creating a culture.

As we mentioned, this list is not exhaustive at all. Readers, we would love to hear from you if you think we’ve missed anything that should be in this list. Feel free to comment on this post.

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