Can ‘steady and slow’ win the audience?
Personal experience is no solid guide to trends, but I find myself speaking to increasing numbers of people who have largely checked out of closely following the news. These are generally smart people, but they find the news too depressing, or complicated, or simply too distracting to bother following day-to-day.
“According to the recent Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism’s annual digital news
report, about an average 32% of people regularly avoid the news, up from 29% in 2018. In the UK, news avoidance soared between 2017 and 2019 by 11 percentage points 'mainly due to the intractable and polarising nature of Brexit.’”
Bell discusses how some news organisations in the US and UK are starting to reach out to audiences in new ways, through events and tours.
Personally, I’ve managed to stay engaged with news by cutting down my consumption of breaking news reports. I now read a lot less as it happens about what politician [x] has said, or what disaster has affected some distant part of the world. Getting on with your own life is incredibly difficult if your head is filled with other people’s problems, being pelted at you through Twitter and push notifications.
Instead, I try to watch a news bulletin on TV in the evening, and then read more deeply online about the stories I want to know more about. I don’t always manage it, but when it works, it really helps.
This discipline has had to come from myself, but I do wonder if more news organisations couldn’t benefit from thinking less about volume and speed, and more about keeping their audiences (and let’s face it, their journalists) sane with a steadier pace.
is often held up as an example of 'slow news’ done well, but one in-depth story per day is maybe a little too slow for many people.
Still, while 'steady and slow’ might not be the way to win people back to news, it might stop more leaving.