Maybe that New York Times multimedia beauty of a story, "Snow Fall," should be the future of long-form journalism after all — because it sure did bring in a lot of readers. Whether it was enough to merit the effort, though, remains to be seen. John Branch's avalanche narrative and its fancy design have racked up over 3.5 million page views in one week, according to a memo today from Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson, which you can read over at Romenesko. For context, that's about how many page views Outside magazine's entire website, full of survivor tales, gets in an entire month; the entire Times site reportedly had 35.5 million pageviews in the month of May.
So what's next? The design team behind the Times project told The Atlantic Wire last week that no specific new stories had presented themselves yet as affording the "luxury" of the six months it took to report and design "Snow Fall." But Abramson's memo cites one-third of traffic to the avalanche story as first-time web visitors, and that can be more appealing than raw numbers. (We've reached out to the Times for comment, and will update when we hear back.)
The Times, of course, does long, reported features all the time, but as The Atlantic's Derek Thompson pointed out, "There is no feasible way to make six-month sixteen-person multimedia projects the day-to-day future of journalism, nor is there a need to." But it's been a great year for the "long read" community, and while there were few ads on the full-screen layout for "Snow Fall," that its traffic has been dwarfed entire sites might not make single-story advertising too far fetched of an experiment.