The tyranny of length
: Matthew Yglesias argues that the NY Times’ (and other papers’) 800-word standard length for columnists is the curse of the form. Right. I’m not sure whether he’s arguing that shorter or longer is better. Of course, the right answer is, “depends.” Some arguments require more. But most — most — require less. Longer is not smarter. Shorter is harder to write but easier to read and that’s good for us.
When you hear newspaper people talk about serving younger readers — a topic addressed by the head of Tribune Company at the Online News confab — they act as if things need to be shorter to dumb them down for the younger audience, as if their attention span were the problem. No, they’re busy; they have better things to do than read filler blather. Short is good, most times.