Lose the 24-Hour News

Inspired by the Slow Food Movement, Peter Laufer advocates for a critical look at the 24-hour news cycle that provides “fast-food-like empty-calories news.”

  • Camera facing a news desk
    We can rationalize flicking on 24-hour news for a fix of what's supposedly important; there may be something happening that's important to know.
    Photo by Fotolia/IvicaNS
  • Slow News
    “Slow News: A Manifesto for the Critical News Consumer” by Peter Laufer is an examination of the nature of news in the context of increasingly frenetic modern life.
    Cover courtesy Oregon State University Press

  • Camera facing a news desk
  • Slow News

Award-winning journalist Peter Laufer brings wit and clarity to the news in his latest book, Slow News (Oregon State University Press, 2014). Laufer argues that both the field journalist and the home consumer can benefit from taking time to ruminate on the news. In this excerpt from Part Two, "Who Are the Media & What Are the Sources?" he suggests that turning off the 24-hour news altogether allows consumers to make their own decisions about what news is worth investigating.

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Rule 10: Shut Off the All-News Channels

We news consumers are conditioned to flick on the TV news and let the so-called 24-hour news cycle dictate the interpretation of a day’s events to us. But we can break that habit, without losing touch with the common curriculum of news shared with friends and neighbors.

Take breaks from the assault of nonstop news. Just because all news radio stations offer “all news all the time” does not mean you must listen to “traffic and weather together” every ten minutes. Just because newspapers perpetually update their websites doesn’t mean you must keep reloading the homepage, follow their tweets, and note their smart phone app alerts and read their email updates.

I just bought today’s San Francisco Chronicle, my hometown newspaper. It costs a dollar these days. It’s almost noon. That means most of the news in this newspaper is going to be yesterday’s, or the day before yesterday’s: Yesterday’s news tomorrow! My Slow News motto.

I hold the paper and enjoy the feel of its pages and the smell of the ink as I explore the printed photographs, all while sipping a leisurely cup of tea. The texture of the images is different from their pixilated cousins glowing on my iPad when I read the Chronicle on its website. As I look at the headlines and read those stories that interest me further than just a glance at the headlines, I see nothing I needed to know yesterday. I didn’t need a bulletin flashed to me announcing that a National Institute on Drug Abuse study was released, a study that concluded teenage marijuana use is increasing (the subject of one of the articles in this issue). There was no urgency in my learning that census results indicate black and white Americans are choosing to integrate.

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