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The Boston Globe has been experimenting with a new story format over the past few days. It’s a Q&A format where reporters write and answers questions they assume readers have about whatever topic it is they’re covering. In the past two days, the Globe has used the format to cover everything from the delays in the opening of the Wynn casino to the massive Mass Pike project announced Thursday to Marie Kondo’s Netflix series.

In theory, this is good. It shows that the Globe is trying to adjust the reading habits, create content that works as well online as it does in print and, most importantly, trying to give readers the information they need/want. But in practice, the Globe needs more practice with this style of writing.

Why It Isn’t Working

I’ll give Mark Arsenault a pass for complimenting a question he wrote in his Wynn casino story as a “smart question.” But his story is an example of what the Globe is doing wrong in this experiment: they’re over-writing each piece in an effort to seem conversational. But the end result is that the pertinent information readers are looking for gets buried.

All three of the examples I cite are trying for that conversational feel, but the only one where it works is Steve Annear’s story on Marie Kondo (she’s the Maine woman who has a Netflix series on personal and home organization).

As a reader, when I’m reading about something that will mess up my commute or an explanation of how my state government is messing up the promised tax relief the casinos were supposed to deliver, I don’t want cute. I want facts that are easy to find and understand.


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