Blog: Slow News

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The first Gulf War changed news reporting forever. CNN correspondents reported live from Baghdad as scud missiles exploded all around them.

Everything was immediate, fresh and vibrant. News was exciting.

Twenty years on and now the revolution in news reporting will not be televised. In increasing numbers, we turn to the Internet for our latest news fix. Bloggers are the new international correspondents. Tweets have replaced editorials. If you can’t say it in 140 characters or less, there’s no point in saying it at all.

In a vain attempt to stay in tune with their audiences, journalist, reporters and presenters are turning towards the social network like drunken dancers seeking a partner before the last dance.

They only have themselves to blame.

Time was when news was considered and analytical. Reporters attended press conferences, digested the information presented to them, and only then shared the kernel with their audience. Now news channels present the whole nut, shell and all.

Press conferences are precisely that: conferences for the press. They were never intended to be peak time viewing – something to which any journalist who has sat through a ministerial announcement on departmental spending plans for the forthcoming year will testify. Not only are they not newsworthy, they are dull. A good press conference is determined more by the quality of the coffee and biscuits on offer than the information being relayed.

Now, presenters interview reporters about forthcoming press conferences. This apparently is news.

No doubt as you read this article, somewhere a presenter is tweeting about a forthcoming interview with a reporter who will be at a press conference where an announcement is expected to take place on the release of information relating to the likely economic performance of some country or other. The feint whiff of real news is buried under layers of communication.

We are all culpable.

Writing this blog, I follow my cyber-friends, most of whom I have never met, on Facebook. They are informing their cyber-friends, most of whom in all probability they have never met, of what they intend to do this evening. Later on we will send tweets and Facebook status updates via our Blackberrys or iPhones on how much fun we are having.

Just as in the 80s, the slow food movement challenged the growing trend towards McDonalds and our fast food nations, now it’s time for us to question our unhealthy diet of fast news. Let’s move back from the precipice of tweets and blogs to the sanctity of detailed analysis and critique. Celebrate investigative articles that look into issues in depth, rather than master the mysteries of predictive text.

Take a deep breath, step back and delve beneath the headlines. Possibly you my even find news exciting once again.

If you want to give me your views on this essay then you can tweet me at: or there again you might choose not to.