Explaain(er) Journalism and Long Form Writing at Esquire

Radar has been noticing something of a resurgence in long form writing and explainer journalism. In the last few months we’ve looked at FOLD (29th April) and Timeline (27th January). Both sites are platforms for discussion of current affairs within an historical and/or wider context. Launching soon, is Explaain, which offers a daily newsletter to subscribers, a collection of interactive articles, and ‘issue flashcards’ which offer key fact lists on selected stories.

In an interview with Catalina Albeanu of Journalism.co.uk founder of Explaain, Jeremy Evans (a journalist previously with ITV and Tech City News), makes the point that his expanded format allows journalists to include more of the research that doesn’t usually make it into a final piece. The site currently showing a test project which focuses on the general election. The project page lists a menu of issues with new articles and highlighted links to previously published party manifestos and media reporting.

As we’ve said when commenting on other explainer journalism projects, it’s difficult to see this format working for breaking news, but Evans describes his project to Albeanu as ‘issues’ rather than ‘news’.

‘”Publishers and the media are spending too much time focusing on the value of the now,” he said, highlighting the drive to get stories out as soon as possible. “The value of content that can resurface and that, with only a little bit of tweaking, becomes relevant again and again, that’s one of the things that I’m trying to exploit.”’

On the theme of adding value to previously published articles is the fascinating Esquire Classics project, which republishes historic articles like this one by John Miller, ‘Greetings America. My Name is Osama bin Laden.’ Originally published in 1999 this was the last interview given by bin Laden to an American journalist. ‘Classics of the week’ like this one by Tom Wolfe from 1983, following the story of Robert Noyce (inventor of the silicon chip), are published with new illustrations or photographs which add further context.

Also planned by Esquire is ‘The Archive’ which promises to republish stories from 1933 to the current day, from writers like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, J.D. Salinger, Cormac McCarthy and Jack Kerouac.