#Longform has been a big debate in the sports media world, from Grantland’s controversial Dr. V article to SB Nation’s suspension of its longform program after the Daniel Holtzclaw debacle. The controversies have cut to the very heart of the existence of longform. Is longform truly necessary as a medium to tell stories or is it merely a medium to make the outlet feel good about itself and plant a flag for their own self-importance?
Longform is a lot like media as a whole. It’s not about the number of words, but the quality. If you tell good stories, and tell them well, longform can be just as valuable as shortform or mediumform or whatever.
ESPN is a perfect example of this. And in spite of the recent controversies over longform, and their own decision to shut down Grantland, the network is finally putting together all of their best longform pieces in one place.
This week ESPN launched Doubletruck, a place where you can read lengthy features from all of ESPN’s best feature writers like Don Van Natta, Wright Thompson, Ramona Shelburne, Kate Fagan, and more.
— Don Van Natta Jr. (@DVNJr) June 9, 2016
At this point you might be thinking this – “Collecting all of ESPN’s best longform articles in one place is a great idea, how did this not happen sooner?” That’s an excellent question as without Grantland ESPN really needed something like this vertical to house all their top-shelf content that might be floating through the ESPN.com ether.
You might also be thinking this – “What the —- is a Doubletruck?” Well, you’re not alone. To the average reader, DoubleTruck might sound like a great name for an RV dealer or a gas station franchise or the next sponsor of the NASCAR truck series. Doubletruck is actually newspaper lingo for a consecutive two-page piece of content.
Let’s just say that name might fly over the head of today’s generation.
Cool that ESPN's longform has a permanent home, but raise your hand if you're under 30 and know what a doubletruck is.
— Kami Mattioli (@kmattio) June 9, 2016
Or, "Come visit us at DoubleTruck! Grab a hot dog while you fuel up at the diesel pump." Name utterly disconnected from content to most.
— Jeff Fogle (@JeffFogle) June 10, 2016
— Danny (@recordsANDradio) June 9, 2016
In spite of the “inside baseball” name for the vertical, it’s something that’s been a long time coming for ESPN. When you bring your best content together in one place it makes it easier to find, bookmark, and consume. Of course, many would argue that’s what Grantland was for… but that’s another story for another day.