We’ve all been there — sitting on the coach and getting carried into a downward spiral of interesting articles and insightful content. Some are entertaining and fun, but there are also loads of pieces full of facts. Instead of washing the dishes, finishing that project we’ve been working on or taking a walk outside, we sit there in a state of information overload!

The fast-paced environment of the digital age has increased the rate at which consumers want content delivered to them. It has also sped up the rate at which newsrooms and journalists need to cover the stories.

Between publishing houses, there is even more pressure on who can deliver the best story first. This has meant that journalists are forced to cover the basics of news and only offer a surface level analysis to the readers.

However, just as audiences have been crying out for meaning and authenticity in other parts of their lives, they are also expecting this from their news outlets. Enter slow journalism.

What is slow journalism?

This is part of the slow news movement where emphasis is placed on providing people with a quality product that promotes good, clean and fair reporting. As the name suggests, it also takes time to build this product and present the article(s).

It gives journalists the freedom to actually pay attention to a story, how it develops and dive deeper than the surface to deliver readers a well-rounded, balanced article.

Where the media often covers breaking news, but rarely reports on the outcome of events, slow journalism follows the story — from beginning to end!

It’s hard to narrow slow journalism down to just a single definition, especially when there are eight characteristics you can use to identify it:
  • Journalists take time to do in-depth fact checks and develop the article.
  • There is meticulous investigation to present the full story.
  • Journalists remove trivial parts of the article when they have all the info and can see what matters or not.
  • Slower reporting also means longer-form content because there is more info to report on.
  • Removing the time constraints promotes transparency.
  • It turns the consumers into participants as it also encourages readers to respond and contribute to news.
  • Journalists dive deeper and get to the root or hidden parts of a story.

Where does slow journalism come from?

Slow journalism actually goes hand in hand with a term called news fatigue, also sometimes called news avoidance. It developed as a response to consumers feeling worn out due to the endless streams of news wherever they go.

When it comes to social and traditional media, there is a tidal wave of new stories ready to break onto unsuspecting users every day.

On top of that, there are also streams of fake news, making it difficult to see what’s true or not. No wonder individuals prefer to avoid news altogether!

That’s where slow news comes in.

One of the benefits of slow news is that it provides readers with digestible content that they actually want to read about. The reason for this is that consumers have things to do, and as much as they want to read your content, there is no way to get through an endless feed and finish errands. Eventually, you need to take a break.

That’s why the shift towards this type of news is so important. And with it comes in-depth journalism that has been thoroughly researched. The motto for slow journalism is “it takes time to do it right”. Readers receive quality news content that they can keep up with at their own pace.

This movement essentially prioritises knowledge over the speed at which news reaches consumers.

Is slow journalism here for the long haul?

Whether or not slow journalism is immortal is a much more complex question. Its birth started with JOMO, the joy of missing out (on all the negative news), but it’s death can still be in FOMO, the fear of missing out (on stories you didn’t see).

But the slow news movement has been around for a decade and has flourished during the pandemic. What this shows publishers is that there is a place for it under a group of loyal followers or subscribers.

That being said, its biggest challenge is to find a way to monetise itself since traditional subscription models haven’t been able to turn consumers into paying members. At its core, it’s still a niche way of publishing and its fate is in the hands of readers.

Do you prefer the slow news movement? Let us know in the comments below.

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Now that you know about slow journalism, read all about Professional journalism versus citizen journalism: What's the difference?
*Image courtesy of Canva