Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 24th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

The Succulent Taste of Slow Reading

tom_honig_sHave you ever read something that made so much sense that you slap your hand immediately and directly to your forehead?

“Why didn’t I think of that?”

Such was my reaction to a column by a statistics expert no less, one Trevor Butterworth, who wrote a column last week in Forbes Magazine calling on the news media to adopt a kind of “slow food” philosophy as espoused by the likes of Alice Waters and her restaurant “Chez Panisse.”

The column brought to mind one particular Sunday afternoon about 15 years ago at the late, lamented Chez Renée restaurant in Aptos. Jack and Renée Chyle operated this distinctive restaurant, and offered a “Slow Food Sunday” that brought  back memories of those long family Sunday afternoon dinners. On that particular Sunday, my family members sat for hours, enjoying the food, conversation and the fantastic October weather. Course after course arrived, perfectly succulent, while conversation just ambled along around the table.

Don’t deduce from this that I’m any sort of foodie at all; occasionally I can be found in a line of cars outside Dairy Queen.

But the point is that you don’t eat at Dairy Queen every day. And that brings the conversation back to the “slow reading” movement. The question is not necessarily the “slow reading” of, say, “War and Peace,” but maybe in-depth news coverage that takes time to digest.

The stats expert, Butterworth, argues that “The idea of consuming less, but better, media of a ‘slow word’ or ‘slow media’ movement is a strategy journalism should adopt.”

My thoughts go directly to an imagined conversation with the accountants here, and how I’d answer their inevitable question: “Where’s the revenue?”

Maybe there is some revenue here. Chez Panisse – or the late Chez Renee – didn’t consider themselves competitors to McDonald’s. And in fact, it’s possible that the same person who downs a McMuffin might be the same person who also takes the time on a nice Sunday afternoon to settle in for a culinary treat.

Actually, there still are examples of contextual journalism. You get in-depth coverage in The Economist, for example. The New Yorker can also make the news consumer think.

The problem is that these publications are national in nature, and they’re tackling Big Stories like health care, financial ruin and terrorism. Can the “slow media” movement move down the food chain to places like Santa Cruz?

There’s no reason why not, except that “slow news,” like “slow food” takes more time, more experience and probably more knowledge. Reporters and editors at daily newspapers talk about “feeding the beast,” that demand for quick and dirty stories that fill the space but, let’s face it, don’t leave the reader satisfied.

Here’s where the food analogy is even stronger: I’m not talking about those complex, dense, arcane stories about bauxite or government finance. These stories are as difficult to digest as whole grain cheesecake with asparagus spears. An important, complete and entertaining article is as difficult to put together as a slow-cooked Sunday feast.

It can be done. Writer Dave Eggers put together a remarkable newspaper-style publication called San Francisco Panorama. It looked like a newspaper and it felt like a newspaper, but it really was something different. It was, in effect, a slow-cooked publication that featured news, sports, travel and a variety of features. It was fun and easy to read—without boring stories about bauxite futures.

“Fast media” is a lot like fast food. It has its place. We all want to know about storms and crimes and strikes and traffic jams. Learning about those things on our mobile phones has been a great advance.

Unfortunately, what has also accompanied “fast media” is quick opinionating, the kind we get every night on cable news. We start believing the first thing out of anyone’s mouth and we don’t have the time or energy to challenge any of the information coming at us online, on television or on our phones.

The party line at media companies is that news consumers expect speed. Nothing is as stale, they say, as old news. That’s why stories appear and then disappear so quickly.

Just maybe, however, the attention span of news consumers isn’t always so short. Just maybe there is a market for the kinds of journalism that can’t be tweeted or summed up in a 13-second soundbite.

If there is such a market, there just might be a journalistic Alice Waters who will find it.
Contact Tom Honig at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Santa Cruz Gives

A look at the organizations we’re asking you to support in our new holiday giving campaign


Simplicity Preparing for Thanksgiving

When we study and apply astrology in our daily lives, we are anchoring new Aquarian thinking. Study, application and use of astrology, understanding its language, builds the new world, the new culture and civilization. Astrologers are able to plan right timing and right action. Next week is Thanksgiving (Thursday, Nov. 26). It’s good to understand the energies influencing us in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. When we know these things we are able to make Right Choices, have Right Action. We link heaven and Earth, our minds with the starry energies that influence us. Let us consider the following influences. The North Node (point in space where sun and moon meet, representing humanity’s present/future pathway) has just entered Virgo. Virgo is about food, purity, cleanliness, service, detail, order and organization. What can we learn from this? Because these energies are available to us we, too, can have intentions and a rhythm of order and organization, purity and cleanliness. Sunday, the sun enters Sag, joining Mercury (we have high ideals, many goals). Tuesday, Mercury/Saturn (structured disciplined thinking) squares Neptune (thoughts, ideas, goals dissolve away). Wednesday is 3 degree Sagittarius solar festival (full moon). Sag’s keynote is, “We see a goal, we achieve that goal, and then we see another.” We might have many plans and goals for Thanksgiving. However, on Thanksgiving those goals may be dashed. Saturn (structure) squares Neptune. All structures and plans dissolve and fall away. What is our response to this? We simplify all that we do. We plan on everything changing. We don’t fret. We adapt instead. Adaptation is the behavior of the Disciple. Sagittarius is the sign of the Disciple. 


The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program


Film, Times & Events: Week of November 20

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments


If you could be someone else for one month, who would it be?

President Obama, so I could change a lot of laws that pertain to people in jail for drug possession and other minor crimes. Raouf Ben Farhat, Petaluma, Self-Employed



Blanc De Blanc Sparkling Wine is best shared with the one you love


Rainy Refuge

Kelly’s offers killer sliders and pumpkin pie, plus dining pet peeves and wine of the week


If you won the lottery, what would be the first three things you did?

Build a restaurant, buy a house for my mom and donate a quarter of the money to the Boys and Girls Club. Jevon Martin, Santa Cruz, Chef