What’s a Better Metric for the ‘Health’ of Longform?

Dean StarkmanMathew Ingram and Gangrey are all continuing the conversation about whether there is a “Longform Meltdown” at the major newspapers. 

Since I don’t think the data shows anything as dramatic as what Starkman and CJR’s headline suggests—and putting aside the question of whether “longform” means narrative or investigative or both—I thought I’d ask a new question: Is there a better way to gauge how longform stories and the people who publish them are faring in 2013? I’d personally love to track the following: 

1. Total # of publishers who produce more than 6 longform stories per year—and pay writers for them.

2. Total # of longform writers who have healthcare.

3. Total # of freelance longform writers whose number of assignments and revenue from those pieces is growing year over year.

4. Diversity of bylines

5. Total # of publishers who hire and train new reporters with a focus on narrative / investigative journalism.

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