David Leigh of The Guardian recently made his inaugural lecture as the Anthony Sampson Professor of Reporting at City University in London.
The mass media can shine a light. Or they can reflect back light. The Daily Mail, for example, or Fox News, deliberately make a highly- profitable business out of telling people what they think they know already. They reflect back their existing beliefs. They reassure their target audience by hammering the world into a shape that suits their prejudices. This is less an information service than a form of cheap massage.
(NB The same could be said for The Guardian of course...)
Too much interactivity, commentating and blogging can end up inadvertently doing the
same thing elsewhere in the respectable media. It’s cheaper and excitingly faster, but it’s
not always a source of light. People shout past each other. They enjoy the sound of their
own voices and confirm their own prejudices by the delicious experience of self-
publishing. Paradoxically, more becomes less.
You can get junk food on every high street. And you can get junk journalism nowadays in
every outlet there is. But just as there is now a movement for Slow Cooking, I should
also like to see more of a demand for Slow Journalism.
Slow Journalism would show greater respect for the craft of the reporter – a patient
assembler of facts. A skilled tradesman who is independent and professionally
reputable. And who can get paid the rate for the job. A disentangler of lies and weasel
words. Don’t you think such people are useful operatives to probe the dodgy
mechanisms of our imperfect democracy, and our very imperfect world? I do.