When it’s time for the media to… shut up

In the aftermath of the Boston marathon bombings and the manhunt that followed, a lot of thought and critique is going to the way the news functioned during the events. I love the way James Gleick described this to Maureen Dowd, in the New York Times. Also, a series of mistakes clearly made the case for a “slow news” approach in these kind of situations – see Dan Gillmor’s take on this.

But maybe, it’s time for the media to push this even further. Going from putting the brakes on the news to complete… silence! It’s the radical yet sensible suggestion made by Mike Ananny, in a very interesting piece published by Nieman Lab. “What would it mean to create breaking news environments that thoughtfully represented the absence of reporting?“, he asks. In the age of real-time information, pushed by many different stakeholders, there may be an opportunity to look into the value of silence during breaking news events and the trust it could translate into.

Here are some excerpts of his note (further reading highly recommended) :

“The ideal press should be […] about demonstrating robust answers to two inseparable questions: Why do you need to know something now? And why do you need to say something now?”

“When news can break at any moment, when should it break?”

“We are in a unique historical moment when the press is ripe for radical redesign — when it’s possible for those creating the conditions under which the networked press operates to help us understand the meaning and value of online silence during breaking news events.”

Full text: go to Nieman Lab

3 arguments in favor of taking it slow

Do you still need help convincing yourself that there is some good in taking things slow? Here are three articles I found lately, all making the case of putting the brakes on the real-time craze…, all for different reasons.

1. “What grew each day was my capacity for absorbed focus“. Tony Schwartz, from The Energy Project, took 9 days off and details what happens when you really disconnect for the Harvard Business Review. “I realized how much richer and more satisfying any experience is when it’s not interrupted — even if the interrupter is me.”

2. “Multitasking can have long-term harmful effects on brain function“. Time.com resurfaced a study from Stanford professor Cliff Nass, suggesting that there is “a two-task limit on what the human brain can handle“. His recommendation: a precious 20-minute rule.

3. With the manhunt for the Boston bombings suspects came the hunt for media screw-ups. Last week proved to be a sort of “stress test” for the media in general, and former experts of the real-time continuous news cycle in particular. “Covering heater stories in today’s instantaneous, 24-hour news environment is a flat out sprint. No network made it to the finish line without tipping over at least a few hurdles., writes the Chicago Sun-Times.  But CNN showed us it needs to get in shape, fast.” I myself find it much better to catch up on the story just now…