Business Insider founder, editor, and CEO Henry Blodget staged an impassioned defense of slideshows at PandoMonthly in New York on Thursday night, saying the visual format was part of a new type of storytelling native to the Web.
Business Insider, known for its mix of excited headlines and blog-style news and analysis, has copped a lot of flak over its four-year existence for milking slideshows for pageviews. One example of such criticism: a piece I published that made fun of Nicholas Carlson’s 50-page slideshow about his first Airbnb experience.
Blodget told Sarah Lacy that he wished the story that I would write is that Business Insider is innovating and that people need to acknowledge that the Web is a new medium, different from print and television. Slideshows are a great form of digital storytelling, he said, because people love pictures. Not everything has to be a 3,000-word essay approved by the Columbia Journalism Review.
He argued that products such as Snapchat are so popular, especially among younger people, because pictures are often more effective than text. “Kids don’t like to use words,” he said.
Slideshows, however, aren’t the be-all and end-all, he said. And straight text stories play well on the Web, too. But the Web allows more experimentation.
“There’s a dramatically different way of storytelling on the Web. You don’t have to do something different – it’s just there is a much bigger pallet in terms of storytelling tools.”
Indeed, the publication is far more than just slideshows. Blodget recently announced that it is investing “hundreds of thousands” in longform content, prompted in part by the success of a 22,000-word profile of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, which has been viewed close to 1 million times.
Digital readers are hungry for information all the time, he told Lacy. “It’s the mix that matters.”
By the same token, he also lauded another form of Web-native journalism. “The gif is awesome,” he said.
[Photo by Timothy Briner for Pandodaily]