On Radio 4’s ‘A Point of View’ yesterday morning, Will Self pointed to the increasing frequency of news coverage. Rolling news, he said, either trivialised the present, or rendered it incomprehensible by bombarding us with too much mutable information, or both. He had a point.
He went on to draw a corollary. Just as we’ve seen a growth in fast food, he said, so we’ve seen a counter to it in the form of what’s become known as slow food, in which we take time to enjoy, rather than merely consume and move on. What we need, he argued, is a news equivalent. We need slow news, in which we give ourselves time to absorb, consider, and make sense of events.
He had a point here, too. Except – don’t we have it already? It seems to me there are several fine examples out there, most of them weeklies, and not all of them of long standing.
Some, yes, are old stalwarts: consider ‘From Our Own Correspondent,’ also on Radio 4, or The Economist, or The New Scientist. But some aren’t. Take the browser.com, for instance, which every Friday serves up a selection of thoughtful pieces from across English language media, most of which are far longer than we might expect.
Slow news, then. It needn’t tell us what to think. But it can certainly help us to frame our own response to things, and to set it in a wider and longer-term context than the immediacy of here and now.