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Abstract

In an era of fast and instantaneous journalism and concerns about the deleterious effects of speed, it can be easy to lose sight of the other kinds of journalism being practiced, other temporalities for its production. There has been little scholarly work on slow journalism, so the first aim of this article is, if not to define, then at least to describe some key characteristics of what slow journalism might be. It will look at how the term has been used on blogs, websites, public forums, and in the minimal scholarly literature available. It will also explore some examples by producers who identify with the term to see what slow journalism looks like in practice. The proliferation of independent journalism using Slow as a way of thinking about production suggests that we are witnessing a new alternative emerging in the mediascape.
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WHAT IS SLOW JOURNALISM?
Megan Le Masurier
In an era of fast and instantaneous journalism and concerns about the deleterious effects of
speed, it can be easy to lose sight of the other kinds of journalism being practiced, other
temporalities for its production. There has been little scholarly work on slow journalism, so the first
aim of this article is, if not to define, then at least to describe some key characteristics of what
slow journalism might be. It will look at how the term has been used on blogs, websites, public
forums, and in the minimal scholarly literature available. It will also explore some examples by
producers who identify with the term to see what slow journalism looks like in practice. The
proliferation of independent journalism using Slow as a way of thinking about production
suggests that we are witnessing a new alternative emerging in the mediascape.
KEYWORDS alternative journalism; fast journalism; magazine journalism; Slow; slow
journalism; slow news journalism
Introduction
In an era of fast and instantaneous journalism and concerns about the deleterious
effects of speed, it can be easy to lose sight of the other kinds of journalism being
practiced, other temporalities for its production. A counter discourse and practice has
been emerging in recent years from journalists, editors, publishers and commentators
interested in slowing journalism down. There has been little scholarly work on slow
journalism, so the main aim of this article is, if not to define, then at least to describe some
key characteristics of what slow journalism might be. It will look at how the term has been
used on blogs, websites, public forums and in the minimal scholarly literature available. It
will also discuss some examples by producers who self-identify with the term to see what
slow journalism looks like in practice. (There are many more examples of journalism that
could be considered Slow, but for reasons of space the focus here will be on publishers,
editors and journalists who describe their work as slow journalism.)
This article is not a prescription for the future state of all journalism in an era of
speed and communicative abundance. Given the imbrication of industrial journalism with
turbo-capitalism and instantaneous media technologies, that would be naïve. The
proliferating examples of independent journalism using Slow as a way of approaching
production suggest, however, that we are witnessing a new and critical alternative in the
mediascape.
Journalism
Before we can explore slow journalism, it is important to make clear my
understanding of journalism itself. Journalism is a plural noun. There is not and never
has been a single unifying activity to be thought of as journalism,writes Martin Conboy
(2004, 3). Journalism has always been multiple,argues Barbie Zelizer (2009, 1), and its
multiplicity has become more pronounced as journalism has necessarily mutated.Rather
than seeing journalism as one thing, as a unitary model,Zelizer suggests we think of
Journalism Practice, 2015
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various kinds of journalisms with necessarily multiple facets, definitions, circumstances and
functions(1, emphasis added). The unitary model is based on an assumption that an
elevated form of news works in prescribed ways to better the public good across contexts
(1). Michael Schudsons definition of journalism, for example, is unitary. Journalism is the
business or practice of producing and disseminating information about contemporary
affairs of general public interest and importance(Schudson 2003, 11). Although he
acknowledges other kinds of materialthat appear in the pressreviews, sport and
lifestyle columns, celebrity gossip, adviceit would, he argues, be hard to dignify any of
this as publically important’” (15). (And thus, not really journalism?) For many, public
interest journalism is what is meant by journalism.
John Hartley (1996, 6), by contrast, refuses to confine journalism to news, if by that
is understood the daily reporting of the political public sphere as traditionally defined
Journalism has always included coverage of the private as well as the public sphere.As
feminist media scholar Lisbet van Zoonen argues, the high social status of news journalism
is based on the assumption that it contains all the elements that are necessary for the
adequate functioning of the public sphere and democracy.But journalism has always had
a much broader social function of providing people with information to make sense of
reality, whether in the realm of the public world, in the realm of consumer affairs or in the
realm of the private(van Zoonen 1998, 125). As Conboy (2004, 149) argues, it is
monologic, even restrictive, to attempt to close down journalism to a narrow set of
explicitly political functions while ignoring the longevity of its ability to engage with the
wider cultural discourses of pleasure and profitability.
Journalism then, as I am using the term, refers to more than the news of the day (be
it hard or soft), more than breaking news, in fact, not just the newsbut also the new,
and sometimes the old.This is easy to forget, as newsis often used interchangeably
with journalism.Mitchell Stephens (2009, 6) observes, It is almost impossible to speak of
journalism today without using the word news’…Yet, it may be time to begin
disentangling journalism from news.To do so would involve disentangling our
association of news and journalism with speed and instantaneity.
Fast Journalism
In 1999, Kovach and Rosenstiel (1999, 5) provided overwhelming evidence of how
the classic function of journalism, to sort out a true and reliable account of the days
events,was being undermined by warp speed.This was before the acceleration of
online news production, before the proliferation of social media platforms and the
possibilities of instantaneous networked communication. Almost 10 years later, Rosenberg
and Feldman delivered an update on the problem. In No Time to Think they write in
typically hyperbolic style, media and inaccuracy, after a flirting through the ages, are now
in a steamy lip lock(Rosenberg and Feldman 2008, 4). Other studies confirm and extend
these concerns. The pressure to produce online news in almost real-time has led to loss of
accuracy and checking (Hargreaves 2003, 12), journalists who rarely leave the newsroom
(Phillips 2009), and even report stories before they happen (Davies 2009). Stories are
heavily dependent on pre-packaged newsfrom PR material and wire services (Lewis
et al. 2006, 3), a practice Davies (2009, 59) describes as churnalism.Boczkowskis(2010)
study of online news production found that speed and the expectation of instantaneity,
along with real-time awareness of what the competition was doing, have led to imitation
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and a paradoxical lack of diversity in news journalism even while the amount of journalism
has increased. Natalie Fenton (2010, 561) describes the contemporary work ethic of news
journalism as speed it up and spread it thin.
In her study of online news culture in Finland after the school shootings in 2007 and
2008, Laura Juntunen (2010) found that the need for speed was primarily driven by three
different pressures: commercial, technological, and journalistic core values of doing it for
the public Assumed audience expectations and the publics right to knoware often
fused together as grand legitimizing arguments in explaining the need for speed(170), a
need that has intensified under pressure from citizen journalists and social media (176).
But, as Rosenberg and Feldman (2008, 17) quip: The publics right to know has been
supplanted by the publics right to know everything, however fanciful and even erroneous,
as fast as technology allows.
In the flurry of speed and immediacy, the possibility of considered reflection, of
narrative, of contextualized information, disappears, for both producers and consumers of
journalism. Urry uses the term the collage effectto describe the way events in the news
lose their sense of location; they share nothing in common except their newsworthiness.
Stories from many different places and environments occur alongside each other in an
often chaotic and arbitrary fashion, serving to abstract events from context and narrative.
The experience of news is thus a temporally and spatially confused collage organized
around instantaneously available stories simultaneously juxtaposed. (Urry 2009, 189190)
Harrington describes how reporters endure a form of paranoia, that weve got to
produce something out of this mess and we better figure it out fast.He argues that
working at high speed encourages journalists to fall back on well-worn themes and
observationsinterpretive clichésand not give ourselves the time or frame of mind to
see anything beyond that(Harrington 1997, xxiv). In his analysis of speed and media,
Eriksen (2001, 70) concludes in a free and fair competition between a slow and fast
version of the same thing, the fast version wins. The question is what gets lost along the
way. The short answer to this question is context and understanding; the longer one
involves credibility.
Slow
Slow is now being called a social movement (Honore 2004), others describe it as a
subculture (Rauch 2011). Parkins and Craig (2006) see Slow as a deliberate subversion of
the dominance of speed in our everyday lives. The source of inspiration comes from Slow
Food (SF). The movement began as a protest against fast food in Rome in 1989, with
protestors sitting outside McDonalds eating bowls of penne. Carlo Petrini, the president of
SF and author of many books explaining its philosophy and activities, states that SF was
not just opposed to fast food, it was also a critical reaction to the symptoms of incipient
globalization(Petrini 2001, 8). Initially, SF was concerned with preserving and fostering
the produce and culture of local communities, and the conviviality of sharing locally
produced seasonal food and wine. Pleasure was entwined with the Slow philosophy. The
original 1989 Manifesto for the International Movement for the Defense of and the Right
to Pleasurewas re-written in 2010 with no mention of the right to pleasure. Even so, the
pleasures enabled by slowing down remain important to SF. Let us defend ourselves
against the universal madness of the fast lifewith tranquil material pleasure(Slow Food
2010). Good, clean and fair is the motto.
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GOOD a fresh and flavorsome seasonal diet that satisfies the sense and is part of our
local culture;
CLEAN food production and consumption that does not harm the environment, animal
welfare or our health;
FAIR accessible prices for consumers and fair conditions and pay for small-scale
producers. (Slow Food, n.d.)
For Slow Food, consumption is seen as an act of co-production. This does not
necessarily mean that the consumer actually grows the food, or, if the concept is taken to
media, does not necessarily produce the journalism. (Although co-production could
indeed also refer to citizen journalism and crowdsourcing of information.) What Petrini
means by co-production is that via education about food and its origins, the Slow
consumer is part of the production process getting to know it, influencing it with his
preferences, supporting it if it is in difficulty, rejecting it if it is wrong or unsustainable
(Petrini 2007, 165).
The core principles of SF have resonated beyond food to many areas of culture and
everyday life, with implications for individual responsibility about the way we consume
journalism. The question for us here is: what can the philosophy of Slow offer for the
practices of journalism?
Slow Journalism
Different kinds of journalism have always operated at different speedsof creation,
of circulation, of time spent in consumption. If we understand slowin its obvious
temporal sense of allowing journalists to take their time, then slow journalism has been
with us since the early days of journalism: the essay (such as Montaignes three books of
essays, written and revised over the course of 22 years (15701592); muckraking
investigative journalism (such as Nellie Blys undercover stories in 1887 for the New York
World about the conditions at Blackwells Island Womens Lunatic Asylum after feigning
madness there for 10 days, later published in book form as Ten Days in a Mad-House);
long-form narrative journalism (such as John Herseys 31,000-word article Hiroshimafor
The New Yorker in 1946); New Journalism (such as John Sacks 33,000-word Mfor Esquire
in 1966) and book-length journalism, also known as literary journalism, narrative
journalism, creative nonfiction (such as Katherine BoosBehind the Beautiful Forevers
from 2012), based on three years of interviews in the slums of Mumbai). And of course,
magazines with their longer production deadlines and longer feature journalism have
always produced journalism at a much slower temporality than the daily, hourly or
instantaneous press(Hartley 2003, 252). Magazines, as app or print, also tend to spend a
longer time in circulation, and tend to be read at a more leisurely pace. Seen from this
perspective, slow journalism would not seem to be anything new. But as we will see, slow
journalism is being used to refer to much more than temporality in production.
Susan Greenberg was the first to use the term, in an article for Prospect magazine
(2007). She utilized the marketing concept of the end of the middleto apply to
journalism. Long-form nonfiction, she argued, had the potential to
end the dominance of our fastnews culture We get basic news cheaply, on air and
online. In the middle is traditional print journalism, the sector that is losing readers. At
the luxury end, there should be a growing market for essays, reportage and other non-
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fiction writing that takes its time to find things out, notice stories that others miss, and
communicates it all to the highest standards: slow journalism. (Greenberg 2007)
It is highly unlikely that the luxuryof long-form journalism will ever have the
power or reach to challenge the dominant culture of fast news. Greenberg, however, does
point to some key characteristics of slow journalism. Such journalism gives time for
research and writing at length, with an aim of quality—“the highest standards of story
telling craft(Greenberg 2013, 382). It offers an alternative to conventional reporting,
perceived as leaving a gap in our understanding of the world at a time when the need to
make sense of it is greater than ever(381).
So far, Greenbergs slow journalism seems to be describing nothing particularly new.
It refers to long-form journalism based on qualitywhere quality (that troublesome word)
means in-depth research, explanation, context, with well-crafted longer narrativeswhich
could describe any number of works of long-form journalism published over the past
centuries, from Twain, Dickens and Hemingway to Hunter S. Thompson and Anna Funder.
More productive is Greenbergs recent argument that slow journalism would show the
reader the provenanceof information and how it was gatheredand to acknowledge
the subjectivity and uncertainty that exists in factual discoverywithin the journalism itself
(Greenberg 2013, 382). Although she does not use the term, this seems to be an argument
for transparency. Slow journalism would lay bare the way stories are reported, by, for
example, crediting all sources, being clear about what is original journalism and what is
reproduced PR copy, being clear about how information is obtained, and in digital
journalism by linking readers to source documents, background research and other
relevant stories (see Gillmor 2010, 7071; Rosen 2010a).
In a recent study of the potential of slow journalism for the discussion of slower-
moving stories such as climate change, Harold Gess imagines how Slow Food principles
could apply to his ideal vision of slow journalism. Goodwould refer to careful research
about information that is relevant to a particular community. It would be well-produced
and benefit the cultural sensesthrough quality. Cleanjournalism would be ethical and
not corrupt or abuse the communities in which it is practiced. It would avoid stereotyping,
and support the sustainability of both ecosystems and livelihoods, support social justice,
and develop a sense of a communitys shared destiny.”“Fairwould allow for advocacy
journalism, make media accessible to the community and ensure non-exploitative working
conditions (Gess 2012, 60).
On his blog Campfire Journalismin 2009, academic and journalist Mark Berkey-
Gerard tracked recent references to slow journalism in public discourse and identified a
temporary working definition. Slow journalism:
Gives up the fetish of beating the competition.
Values accuracy, quality, and context, not just being fast and first.
Avoids celebrity, sensation, and events covered by a herd of reporters.
Takes time to find things out.
Seeks out untold stories.
Relies on the power of narrative.
Sees the audience as collaborators. (Berkey-Gerard 2009)
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At this point, we could generalise that slow journalism requires the time for deeper
reflection and/or investigation about an original subject. It is not necessarily long form, but
usually requires length. The stylistic focus tends to be narrative storytelling, in any
medium, produced to high standards of the craft. This means telling stories using narrative
techniques, not just the mechanistic expository style of hard news stories.
1
Slow
journalism avoids sensationalism and herd reporting. It is ethical in treatment of subjects
and of producers. So far, these characteristics are not unusual in quality feature-length or
longer-form journalism. The Slow approach would add that journalism should not only be
factually accurate, but where possible, sources should be verifiable and traceable by
consumers via methods of transparency (whether by linking or including the provenance
of information and method in the text itself). The work is relevant to a particular
community, with a tendency to focus on local stories. Slow journalism is not scoop driven.
It carries an ethos of commensalitythe shared tableimplying a more communal and
non-competitive approach. Effectively this means such journalism has to be produced in
an independent or alternative space, probably small-scale, where such values can be
realized. Some practices of slow journalism provide the opportunity for active co-
production. The periodicity of its delivery is slowed down as well, increasing the pleasures
in production and consumption.
The following section will analyse a number of publications that self-identify with
the Slow Journalism tag. Not all share all the characteristics mentioned abovesome
emphasise investigation, some collaboration, some focus on local stories and community,
others on in-depth narrative, while a number of publications are interrogating the
association of news with speed. This journalism does not require a checklist of key
characteristics to qualify as Slow. The term, like the Slow movement itself, is more a critical
orientation to the effects of speed on the practice of journalism, and an experimentation
with small-scale slower publishing that addresses those effects.
Investigation and Collaboration
In a forum about slow journalism at the University of Southern Californias Getty Arts
Journalism program in 2008, panelists discussed the non-competitive sharing of resources
and how the social justice aim of journalism was lost in the pursuit of the scoop (USC
Annenberg 2010). At the forum was Naka Nathaniel who described his own practice of
collaborative (or co-productive) slow journalism in work he had done with Nicholas Kristof
in Chad in 2006, covering genocide in Darfur. On the New York Times website, the
journalists posted their reporting: articles, columns, videos, blog posts and links to
accurate background material. They then invited readers to use the material to tell the
story in their own way. Dont feel as if it needs to be long,they wrote. Hey, a haiku is
sometimes more effective than an epic.In encouraging co-production, the aim for these
slow journalists was not necessarily lengthy stories but sharing their core resources to
encourage the spread of stories too important to be told only once(Kristof 2006). It was
a short-lived experiment.
Collaboration of a different kind was behind Help Me Investigate, a crowd-sourced
investigative journalism project started in Birmingham, UK by Paul Bradshaw in 2009.
Anybody can submit a question, hyper-local or national. Micro-volunteers(he pointedly
does not call them citizen journalists) contribute to the research process. The final result is
more process than product.Interestingly, storytelling is not the aim; communication and
WHAT IS SLOW JOURNALISM? 143
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communityare. Bradshaw calls it slow journalism(Bradshaw 2009). In an interview with
The Guardian, Bradshaw said he wanted to make the process of investigative journalism
more transparent to the public. People can contribute their expertise to answer specific
questions, and journalists with no resources could use the site to call on the community
for help(Kiss 2009).
Mission and State is a non-profit investigative website, funded philanthropically, from
Santa Barbara in the United States. It describes itself as a destination website that delivers
powerful, deeply reported, richly experienced narratives from Santa Barbara with local,
regional and sometimes national impact.The multimedia journalism is both investigative
and explanatory storytelling, and the organization is more interested in collaboration with
other media outlets than in competition (Mission and State 2013). Executive Editor Joe
Donnelly describes Mission and State as slow journalism.
We have faster and faster turnaround and shorter and shorter attention spans, and fast-
food type stories. But that means its even more imperative to tell stories that have a
strong emotional and intellectual impact. Weve been pushing the slow food
storytelling movement in journalism for five years now. Narrative storytelling is an
experience. (INN 2013)
Long Play (LP) is an online Finnish start-up also focusing on investigative journalism.
As in other countries, in the age of big newsroom cuts, investigative journalism is the kind
of journalism that suffers and the first to go. We call our approach slow journalism,said
editor Johanna Vehkoo (IJF 2013). LP produces one story per month with unpaid work
from eight journalists, two designers, and one photographer. Vehkoo describes the staff as
a democratic collective.LP is one example of the growing e-singlephenomenon in
long-form journalism where articles are sold as digital singles. At a time when most of the
mainstream quality press is reducing the length of stories (Starkman 2013), LP is part of a
new trend in alternative independent online publishing, although not all necessarily self-
identify with the slow journalism tag (see e.g. The Awl,Matter,Medium,Longform,
Longreads,Storyboard,Atavist,Byliner,Zetland,Informant).
Slow Storytelling
Noah Rosenberg, editor and founder of the New York-based online long-form
journalism publication Narratively, uses the term slow journalism to describe original,
quality, in-depth, human-driven stories that might otherwise fall through the cracks.It is
a response to the insane non-stop information coming at you 24/7,he said at the
Storyology conference in Sydney in 2013 (Rosenberg 2013). The stories are local, a respect
for which is one of the SF principles.
Narratively slows down the news cycle. We avoid the breaking news and the next big
headline, instead focusing exclusively on untold, human-interest storiesthe rich,
intricate narratives that get at the heart of what a place and its people are all about.
(Narratively 2013)
Each week, Narratively explores a different theme about a particular place and
publishes one story per day, in whatever medium suits the storyanimated documentary,
long-form article, photo essay. Every story gets the space and time it needs to have an
impactan approach we call slow storytellingor slow journalism’” (Narratively 2013).
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The free online London-based magazine Aeon also publishes one long-form piece of
journalism each weekday in categories of Altered States, World Views, Being Human,
Living Together and Nature&Cosmos. The journalism is highly researched, often academ-
ically inspired, but written in an engaging simple style. It is an editorial philosophy that the
publishers term idea egalitarianism.The magazine is published by Brigid and Paul Hains,
who fund the magazine from their own resources, with enough money put aside to pay
contributors at fair rates and run the site for three years without advertising.
We saw Aeon as something of a corrective to the sense that a lot of people have of
drowning in information. We really try to look at the deeper issues, the ideas, and the
values that are animating the news, and we focus on those things in particular. (Paul
Hains quoted in McKenzie 2013)
Aeon has been described as
the publication that insists on going slow when every other force of the Internet
demands that we speed up It publishes stories based not on how many clicks their
headlines might generate, but on engaging peoples attention for a meaningful period of
time. (McKenzie 2013)
Aeon and Narratively both offer a return to the periodicity of daily journalism, but
slow the reading experience down even more by providing just one long story per day.
Then there is Paul Salopek, perhaps the slowest journalist of them all. In 2013 the
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist began a seven-year journey retracing the global migration
of human ancestors, on foot, from the birthplace of humanity in Ethiopia to Tierra del
Fuego, where our forebears ran out of horizon(Out of Eden Walk 2013). Every 100 miles,
Salopek stops and records a Milestoneof photographs, sound and a brief interview with
the nearest person. He blogs, tweets and plans to write longer pieces too. Salopek calls
this slow journalism,the process of reporting at a human pace of three miles an hour
(as quoted in Osnos 2013). The Out of Eden Walk was designed to inspire school children
around the world via the educational site The Pulitzer Centre for Crisis Reporting. Students
are invited to write and share their own stories of personal journeys; educators can use the
work to teach their students about storytelling and emotion (Pulitzer Centre 2013).
The publications discussed below take us somewhere else. They are practices of
slow journalism that deliberately challenge the temporality and rationale of daily (or
instantaneous) news. The editors and journalists of Delayed Gratification (DG), XXI and De
Correspondent all respond to the news, but by using a slower temporality of production
they bring the news value of recentnessinto question.
Slow News Values
News by definition is meant to be a fresh product manufactured in the fastest,
most routinized and efficient way possible news, like bread, is perishable. Indeed,
outdated news is also called stale(Gans 2003, 50). But why does news have to be so
perishable? We know one answer. Periodicity is about economics,wrote Sommerville in
1996. This was before the accelerative force of online and social media, but his point still
stands. There can be news without it being daily, but if it were not daily, a news industry
could never develop. The industrys capital assets would lie idle waiting for news of
significance to print. Periodicity is a marketing strategy(Sommerville 1996, 4). DG and XXI
also use periodicity as a marketing strategybut as quarterlies whose content is news,
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this slower periodicity becomes a critique of the industrial velocity of the mainstream
news industry.
In 2008, Patrick de Saint-Exupery launched the slow newsprinted quarterly
magazine, XXI, in Paris. The editorial in the inaugural issue stated: Taking the necessary
time, shifting our own point of view, bringing back colours to the world, depth to things,
presence to people. Going to see, witness, tell: these are the aims of XXI.The structure is
30 pages of selected flashbacksof shorter news stories from the preceding three
months, 140 pages of longer feature journalism, 30 pages of comic strip journalism (based
on No. 17, 2012). 6 Mois is the photojournalism spin-off from XXI, a bi-annual 350-page
print magazine, with no advertisements, giving around 30 pages to a single story. The
editor, Marie-Pierre Subtil, in criticizing fast news journalism, said, There is no time to
pause on a story and understand it; decode whats going on(as quoted in Laurent 2012).
Laurent Beccaria, the manager of 6 Mois, said, Not everything is the immediate perpetual
present where each moment cancels out the last. Thats my idea of hell(AFP 2011).
In London in 2010, two editor/journalists, Rob Orchard and Marcus Webb, joined
forces as The Slow Journalism Company to launch a quarterly print news magazine
entitled Delayed Gratification. The tag line was last to breaking news.From Issue 6 they
added a new tag line, a new perspective on the events that mattered.Other current
affairs news magazines, such as Time or The Economist or Newsweek, keep their periodicity
close to the breaking of news, as weekly publications (print or online) with more frequent
website updates. The temporal territory that DG raids is the three months before an issue
is published. By the time DG arrives in the mail, there have been at least a few months
between the last news it covers and the resulting published journalism.
DG uses print deliberately as a medium of slow pleasure, with online tasters on the
website as marketing and subscription tool. Print is not dead,states the opening editors
letter of every issue. For all the wily charms of the digital world with its tweets, feeds,
blogs and apps there is still nothing like the pleasure created by ink on paper.The choice
of medium is also based, surprisingly perhaps, on sustainability. The magazine uses Forest
Stewardship Council-approved paper and a printer registered to the ISO 14001 environ-
mental standard. The longevity and beauty of the object encourages collectability rather
than disposability and the fact that back issues of DG are available for sale until the print
run is sold means that this magazine can be environmentally more sustainable than
mainstream print magazines with their high pulp rate as soon as an issue goes off sale.
(XXI also sells its back issues.)
Without the albatross of an hourly deadline around their necks,the editors take
time to make their content choices and commissioning of original material after
immersion in three months of world news. In an interview with me in London on July 4,
2011, Orchard said:
Its not the super speedy journalism that forms the vast majority of the backdrop of all
the media at the moment. Its not that 24/7 rolling news, got to fill the pages, got to fill
the content, tweeting from inside of courtrooms, immediate perspective and immediate
analysis if you take your time to do something you can, not necessarily do it better,
but do it in a different way.
The aim, says the editorsletter, is picking out patterns, and seeing what is left after
the dust has settled,stripping out the white noise.DG offers a mix of longer features
(some based on recent news, some of a more timelessnature), expert columns,
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innovative data journalism graphics, with a sidebar running through the issue with a brief
news highlight from each day of the preceding three months. Because DG is independent,
funded not by advertising but by expensive cover price and subscriptions, making money
is not the prime motivationalthough, as for many independent publishers, without a
profit eventually the magazine will fold. At this point, however, DG manages to pay its
contributors at award rates; the editors have other day jobs.
The editors cannot select stories using the usual news values. Instead, they use the
magazine version of news values known as the editorial philosophythat specifies the
style, content area and approach of a magazine. And that, for DG, is the question: what
really mattered in the news? The only way this can be answered is by slowing news time
down. The inspiration for DG came from Orchard and Webbs own response to the surfeit
of news media. Even as journalists, whose job it was to keep up with the news flow, they
felt overwhelmed. In our interview, Orchard said:
Everybody has a very busy life and youve got a couple of 20-minute windows in your
day when you want to catch up with whats going on. But how on earth are you
supposed to filter that when its coming at you through Facebook and Twitter and three
or four main news services you like to look at and the billion blogs you like to monitor,
how can you possibly get on top of that? A lot of people feel like giving up.
It is a common refrain. Thomas Eriksen notes,
there is no scarcity of information in the information society. There is far too much of it.
With no opportunity to filter away that available information which one does not need,
one is lost and will literally drown in zeros and ones. (Eriksen 2001, 105)
In his history of information, James Gleick (2011, 409410) concludes, strategies
emerge for coping the harassed consumer of information turns to filters to separate the
metal from the dross.The slow editing of slow journalism can provide that filter. Given
the extraordinary scope of reality that occurs in three months, it is quite a feat for editors
to select the news that mattered. And because DG and XXI are quarterlies, readers know
the final selection cannot re-present all that happened. The illusion of daily news is that
we have been provided with all the news thats fit to print,and the illusion of constantly
updated online news is that we can tap into everything happening as long as we keep
clickingbut the reality is the gut instinct application of news values by editors, and a
secrecy in the decision-making process to feed this illusion of total coverage. In their
slowness, DG and XXI make the role of the editor transparent.
A different slowcritique of news comes from De Correspondent, a crowd-funded
for-profit multi-media Dutch-language newswebsite that launched in the Netherlands in
September 2013, funded by subscribers rather than advertisers. Its manifesto states it is
daily, but beyond the issues of the day. From news to new(De Correspondent 2013a). It
offers a slower approach to the news by avoiding the daily news cycle of breaking news.
Stories are published each day, but the focus is background, analysis, investigative
reporting, writing at length. I dont believe in the newsin the objective sense of the
word,said publisher Rob Wijnberg. You can describe the world in infinite ways, and the
newshappens to be one of them(as quoted in Witschge 2013). If the news was your only
source of information about the world, he said, youd end up knowing exactly how the
world doesnt work(De Correspondent 2013b). The news value of relevancereplaces
recentnessas the basis for story selection. One correspondent, for example, the journalist
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and author Jelle Brandt Courstius, described his role as to focus on one place in the
Netherlands each month. This might be a place where the news circus has already left,
but it could also be a place where something interesting is happening at too slow a pace
to make it into the newslike the depopulation of a provincial village in Zeeland(as
quoted in Witschge 2013).
Wijnberg expects his correspondents to be factual, accurate, and fairbut they are
not expected to be objective automatonswho hide the surprise, hope, anger, or
enthusiasm that gave rise to this reporting in the first place.Transparency will also be
incorporated into stories by taking the ways in which news media shape our perceptions
of events into account in its own reporting(De Correspondent 2013a). Wijnberg criticizes
the voice of traditional objectivejournalism (the approach that Rosen [2010b] calls the
view from nowhere). I want the correspondents to make their choices explicit,said
Wijnberg. What do they think is important, and why should readers care about it? You do
that by making clear that youre not following an objective news agenda, but a subjective
journey through the world(as quoted in Witschge 2013).
The practices of slow news journalism discussed above prompt us, as readers, to ask
questions such as how much news do I need?,”“when do I need it?and what really
matters in the news?They prompt, in short, questions that can lead to a slower, more
critical consumption of journalism. The questions come not just intellectually but
experientially. Reading old news is affectively dislocating. Eerily familiar, strangely distant,
a reminder of events that we had almost or possibly forgotten, the important news
reassuringly still present and reinforced in memory. As Gleick suggests, the information
that matters sometimes comes the next day or the next month, when there is time to
digest and interpret(quoted in Dowd 2013).
Conclusion
TMI (too much information), information overload, informed bewilderment, commun-
icative abundance, the attention economy the catchphrases express a general feeling that
we are overwhelmed by information, and not least by journalism. In the speed of the media
torrent,writes Todd Gitlin (2007, 115), the images steadily thicken, the soundscape grows
noisier, montages more frenetic the prospect of unending, out-of-control acceleration is
unnerving.One response is fatigue, indifference, apathy. As Orchard said, a lot of people feel
like giving up,especially the young. A recent large study found that 37 percent of 1834-year-
olds from a sample across nine nations said they do not seek information, on a regular basis,
from any news medium, compared with only 13 percent of those aged over 54-years-old
(Curran et al. 2013, 884). Might a slower approach to journalism with its emphasis on quality,
pleasure, storytelling and a focus on what matters to particular communities be one way to
engage a distracted, overloaded, disinterested audience? Or is this just elitist, nostalgic
modernismpining after a simpler slower existence?
Some critics would say exactly that. John Keane, for example, would situate slow
journalism as a backlash ideologyproduced in reaction to high intensity communica-
tion.Such an ideology fears the consequences of information overload and mourns the
death of informed, rational debate. Nostalgic modernism blames viewers, listenersand
readersindigestion on multimedia it calls on governments and citizens to invent
schemes for reducing information(Keane 1997). To suggest that Slow is just a reactionary
escape from communicative abundance is to misunderstand the complexity of the
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movement. As Ben Agger (2004) explains, slow and fast co-exist, dialectically. The goal of a
slower life has to be situated within the present, using information technologies to decelerate
the pace of existence(149). The examples of slow journalism discussed above all utilize the
possibilities of the latest ICTsbut they use them with the considered reflection which takes
time and requires distance from its object(147). For the consumers of journalism, especially
now that consumers can beactive producers as well, a slower approach to journalism,far from
being reactionary, could be considered a practice of responsible citizenship. There is a time for
speed, as the tweeting during the uprisings in the Middle East has shown. But there is also a
time when responding slowly is the wiser course of action.
After the Boston bombing in 2013, Mike Ananny (and many others) documented
how instantaneous mobile technologies had led to false, dangerously distracting
information from both traditional and non-traditional journalists, motivated by the
competitive desire to be first with the newsand the thoughtless desire to speak at
any cost. The ideal press should be about more than this,he wrote.
It should be about demonstrating robust answers to two inseparable questions: Why do
you need to know something now? And why do you need to say something now? Both
questions demand awareness of what not to say, and when not to say it(Ananny 2013)
Although he did not use the term, Ananny was making an argument for the
considered silence and timing of slow journalism as one way to improve the quality and
accuracy of public discourse.
Slow journalism promises what Mitchell Stephens has recently called wisdomjourn-
alism: an amalgam of the more rarified forms of reportingexclusive, investigativewith
more informed, more interpretive, more explanatory, even more impressionistic or
opinionated takes on current events(Stephens 2009, 4); and with a good dose of
pleasurable narrative style. None of the above experiments in slow journalism imagine
themselves as a replacement for fast journalism or as the future of journalism. Their small-
scale independence allows freedom from mainstream journalism organizations and
their competitive drive for profit and ideology of journalistic velocity. Like the advocates
of slow living, there is no desire to impose slowness on everyone. Rather they propose
that an alternative to speed be made possible, thinkable, do-able; that spaces for slowness
be allowed(Parkins 2004, 367).
FUNDING
The research for this paper was aided by a University of Sydney, Faculty of Arts and Social
Sciences Research Incubator Grant.
NOTE
1. The common term in the news media industry is hard newswriting where what the
journalist (or their editor) deems to be the most important piece of information is put in
the lead paragraph and each following paragraph contains information in descending
level of importance. The tone is formal and tethered to the institutional voice of the
newspaper(Ricketson 2010).
WHAT IS SLOW JOURNALISM? 149
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... It is also clear (for instance : Cheng 2021;Drok and Hermans 2016;Harbers 2016;Le Masurier 2015;Neveu 2016;Vodanovic 2020) that the media that produce this type of journalism should be transparent about the collection of material for content production, sources of funding and media expenses; and that include values such as "good, clean e fair", as according to, among others, Gess (2012) and Downman and Ubayasiri (2017). Apart from that, slow journalism is open to cooperation with other media and/or the audience whenever it proves relevant for the work that will be developed. ...
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... The consolidation of Mediapart (France) or Politico (United States) demonstrated the viability of a new avenue for political information from digital native media in the context of new initiatives (Nielsen, 2016). But these were not the only cases as-in times of real-time journalism-analytical and slow journalism de ned its space (Le Masurier, 2015) and enriched the eld of quality and political journalism in the network society. In fact, there are currently a large number of digital native media that renew narratives and intervene in the political eld, some with state and/or global vocation and others from the hyperlocal eld-attached to proximity to intervene in the social and political eld-which is now a trend in the digital society. ...
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This chapter reflects on the conceptualisation and practice of political journalism in digital native media and its contemporary dimensions. The way news is produced and consumed in the digital era breaks down the boundaries that once divided professionals, citizens and activists. This chapter identifies the emergence of a series of trends in digital native media, which show a coexistence of traditional and new principles. Beyond the technological impact, the new media responds to the needs of society by incorporating other actors and the citizen as a reason for being and as a collaborator in production processes. New players and an updated role for journalists come into play with innovative proposals designed for the current multiplatform and mobile scenario.
... The consolidation of Mediapart (France) or Politico (United States) demonstrated the viability of a new avenue for political information from digital native media in the context of new initiatives (Nielsen, 2016). But these were not the only cases as-in times of real-time journalism-analytical and slow journalism defined its space (Le Masurier, 2015) and enriched the field of quality and political journalism in the network society. In fact, there are currently a large number of digital native media that renew narratives and intervene in the political field, some with state and/or global vocation and others from the hyperlocal field-attached to proximity to intervene in the social and political field-which is now a trend in the digital society. ...
Chapter
Immersive storytelling has changed the way information is produced, distributed, and even consumed by viewers. Media, NGOs, and political parties have understood virtual reality technologies and 360-degree video as an opportunity to connect with users and deliver a closer and more immersive event experience. Regarding political communication, elections (campaigns, rallies, and debates) have been the most fertile ground for immersive storytelling. Using several cases as examples, this chapter addresses the opportunities immersive storytelling presents for institutional communication and public relations, as well as the ethical challenges posed by such content.
... Atendendo ao quadro de problemas particulares que decorrem da saturação e do imediatismo do ambiente informativo digital, um movimento vem se afirmando ao longo dos últimos anos em defesa da moderação e da desaceleração dos ritmos de distribuição e, sobretudo, de produção de notícias (Franklin & Canter, 2019;Rosique-Cedillo & Barranquero-Carretero, 2015). Não obstante a polissemia do termo (Neveu, 2016), "slow journalism" reivindica uma reflexão sobre formas alternativas, e complementares (Craig, 2016), de jornalismo, fundamentadas numa revalorização dos padrões de qualidade e de profundidade da oferta noticiosa (Masurier, 2015;. De modo análogo, outros autores vêm analisando o potencial de formatos narrativos mais longos, mais aprofundados ou transmediáticos (Eberwein, 2019;Neveu, 2014) na exploração e apresentação mais clara de assuntos complexos, assim como na promoção do valor social do jornalismo e na recuperação da confiança pública nas notícias. ...
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