Along has come Slate.com to prove the pack wrong. Nieman Journalism Lab profiles its success in commissioning long-form pieces that have proven highly successful in securing readership.
Not just any readership, of course. A long-form journalism readership is --- conventional wisdom you can more readily bank on --- a smart readership. With that smart readership comes higher-end advertising support. In other words, it's just the sort of model one needs upon which to build a business.
Slate hasn't spent a lot of money on the pieces, but it has afforded them time. It has each of its staff writers identify a theme about which he/she is passionate and encourages four to six weeks of research and writing. Not many newsrooms can afford that luxury in one bite, but for Slate, it is yielding very strong stories that differ from its daily digest of reporting and commentary.