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Slow News and my interview with OPB

I recently participated in the invigorating Slow News and More Slow conference at the University of Oregon, an effort to discuss journalism alternatives to the never-endeding onslaught of 24-7 media.

I like to equate our 21st century news diets to being caught in a meteor storm. Our brains, for the first time in history, are unable to effectively absorb and process the countless streams of content pace enabled by a pace of technological change that is growing exponentially faster. More than ever, we need thoughtful journalism that offers perspective and relevance so that we can truly analyze what's important in our lives. 

"Slow news" is a term Laufer and others have coined to address the problem. Whether that is the right term is up for debate -- as it was at this conference -- but the quest to deliver more slower, more impactful journalism remains the goal. 

As part of the conference, I was interviewed from Portland live on Oregon Public Broadcasting's "Think Out Loud" program, and discussed "slow news," newspaper trends and my time leading the Register-Guard. You can listen to my segment here: 

UO journalism professor Peter Laufer -- the school's prestigious James Wallace chair of journalism and author of the book "Slow News: A Manifesto for the Critical News Consumer" -- organized the 2.5-day "Slow News and More Slow" conference.  Speakers included:

  • Markos Kounalakis -- a Stanford University Hoover Institution visiting fellow, former Newsweek foreign correspondent and current McClatchy Newspapers foreign affairs columnist -- who discussed his just-released book "Spin Wars & Spy Games."
  • Matthew Lee, co-founder and associate editor of the UK-based quarterly magazine Delayed Gratification, a leader in slow journalism internationally. I have subscribed to Delayed Gratification for several years and find it inspiring and enlightening (and highly recommend subscribing). Lee wrote a post-conference summary for the Delayed Gratification blog
  • Jennifer Rauch, professor of journalism and communications studies at Long Island University and author of the upcoming Oxford University Press book "Slow Media: Why Slow is Satisfying, Sustainable and Smart."
  • Italian filmmakers Andrea Coccia and Alberton Puliafito, who are working on a documentary about "slow news" scheduled for release in 2019. All attendees, including guests asking questions, were asked to sign releases for possible inclusion in the film.
  • UO journalism professors Laufer, Kathryn Thier, Lori Schontz and Nicole Dahmen, who addressed how thought-provoking approaches to news coverage can increase impact, generate solutions and build trust among sources and readers who have found themselves victimized by aggressive breaking-news approaches to covering stories. 
  • UO music and dance professor Wonkak Kim, who performed the adagio from Mozart’s "Clarinet Concerto in A Major," certainly an invitation to slow down. Kim explained that Mozart gave the piece a slow tempo to encourage relaxation ((which is why Laufer invited Kim to perform). 
  • Camilla Mortensen, editor of Eugene Weekly
  • Me, who gave a general history of slow news (efforts to combat the faster and faster pace of media date to at least the late 15th century) and examples of how a local media company might survive in an age of non-stop media and endless content sources. 

There are other "slow news" discussions occurring worldwide, and I'm hopeful each builds momentum toward increased support/readership for organizations that produce journalism that rewards nourishment rather than bombast.

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