For News Outlets Squeezed From the Middle, It’s Bend or Bust

Hundreds of thousands of people on Facebook followed BuzzFeed’s live video of two people putting rubber bands around a watermelon until it burst. We should all reflect on how journalism can make the news that is truly important interesting enough to compete with exploding fruit.

imageTraditional media companies face the increasingly daunting task of hooking already-inundated audiences, but they also have more tools than ever to lure them.

Videos, podcasts, short items of interest that can be read easily on smartphones, and almost anything with the words “Donald Trump” rate well. Perhaps counterintuitively, deeply reported features and investigative pieces like The Times’s coverage of ISIS’ brutality or its nearly 8,000-word article about one man’s lonely death in Queens can draw readership levels that were never possible in the print-only era.

That’s a big deal, and in Mr. VandeHei’s and Mr. Allen’s view — as well as those of the bosses at The Times, The Post and elsewhere — it shows that big, important work will prove more valuable than fun stunts that may or may not draw big online audiences. —For News Outlets Squeezed From the Middle, It’s Bend or Bust