I am an avid news follower. I have been reading a newspaper daily since I was eight years old (really). At times, I even read two and three dailies (when I was in grad school up at Boston University, I decided I should read the Wall Street Journal, in addition to the New York Times and the Boston Globe. The Globe was not owned by the Times then, but I digress). Additionally, I read lots of stuff online plus I watch the CBS and/or NBC evening news broadcasts when I can.
When I read the newspaper, what I am really doing is scanning. I scan all the headlines first. If the headline is about an interesting subject, then I read the first few paragraphs (same goes for op-eds). I usually discard the sports section, but only after reading the main headline on the front page (it is important to know the results of the game, but I have no patience for the analysis of why).
I don’t read long articles–never have and never will. I don’t have the patience or the time.
Even though most people don’t read printed newspapers, they are acting the same online: They scan. They skip long form. They only read what interests them.
Lessons here are:
- Headlines matter A LOT.
- Longer is not necessarily better.
- People will always read only what interests them.
In other words, keep it short and keep it interesting.