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November 18, 2008

Slow Journalism

I'm out in Los Angeles, being a senior fellow in the last week of the three-week USC Annenberg/Getty arts journalism program. Yesterday (my first morning) was a panel on the subject of "slow journalism," a recently coined term emulating the slow food movement.

The panel was assembled by Doug McLennan of this Artsjournal site and Sasha Anawalt, who runs the USC program. Aside from Doug, the panelists were Peter Sellars; Josh Viertel, who runs Slow Food U.S.A.; Naka Nathaniel, who has done Internet journalism for the NY Times and the IHT and who is now in LA because his wife runs the LA Times online operation; and Mister Jalopy, a Los Angeles avatar of gizmos made form recycled materials.

For me, fighting jet lag, the panel was full of good ideas and lively discussion (egomania vs. acceptance of responsibility inherent in a byline) but crippled by incoherence. In particular, as Doug (beating his own drum, but still...) remarked in passing, the subject of the panel was really the Internet, which in terms of journalistic slowness is very much a two-edged sword.

Yes, it allows infinite space, freedom from editorial or corporate control and time to report/bloviate on subjects slighted or ignored by the dreaded MSM (mainstream media, for those of you who still remember the recent presidential campaign).

But very much on the other hand, it puts new pressure on writers to slap their stories out to the public as fast as possible, and forget about serious reporting. As worst, it can mean the wild dissemination of pure rumor. The pressure for speed can come from corporate bosses when a newspaper has encouraged/forced its writers to blog, or from the internally felt competition among unsupervised bloggers.

Either way, it is very much the opposite of the honorable, salutary, quaint or Luddite aspirations of the slow folk.

November 18, 2008 8:29 AM | | Comments (0)

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