Santa Cruz Good Times

Wednesday
Jul 29th
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

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

The Binding of Edmund McMillen

How a Santa Cruz designer created one of the most unlikely hits in video game history

 

Sun in Leo, Rosy Star, Venus and Uranus Retrograde

Three major celestial events occur this week. Wednesday, the Sun enters Leo, highlighting the heart center of everyone. Leo is a sign of deep sensitivity (along with Cancer). Wednesday is also the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene, one of the most misunderstood women in the Bible. Saturday, July 25, Venus turns stationary retrograde at 0 Virgo (progressed Regulus, the Law, Hall of Records). Venus retrogrades for 44 days and nights, forming one petal of a five-pointed rosy star (pentagram) in the sky (five retrogrades over eight years = star). Venus retrograde turns values upside down. Our usual sense of beauty, values, the real price of things, relationships—all turn into a bundle of confusion. We don’t seem to know anything. Luxury goods are mispriced, values are jumbled, we wonder who that person is we’re in relationship with. We don’t know where our money is or where it’s gone. Venus, in daily life, represents values (resources, money, possessions and quality of relationships). Venus retrograde asks, “What do I value?” Venus retrograde puts us in touch with what has changed and what is truly of value in our lives. Venus retrogrades from 0 Virgo to 14 degrees Leo (July 25-Sept. 6). Leo is about the self and our creativity, which is how we come to know and value ourselves. We “know ourselves through what we create.” In Venus (values) retrograde (inner focus) we will ask, “What are values (not just money and finances)? What are my values? What do I create? How do I value my creations? Do I value myself?” Sunday, Uranus—planet of all things new, revelatory and revolutionary—also retrogrades (from 20 to 16 degrees Aries) until the full moon of Christmas Day. Five months of Uranus retrograde. In July and continuing on through the following months we have many planets retrograding. Things therefore slow down. Everyone’s focus becomes subjective, hidden by veils and curtains. A time when inner reserves of strength are available. A time of protection.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 24

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

 

AJ’s Market

Local cult fave keeps getting bigger and better

 

What do you think of Bernie Sanders?

He’s what we need, more hardcore Democrats. Old-school, ’70s-style Democrats. Tony Dolan, Santa Cruz, Freelancer

 

Hunter Hill Vineyards & Winery

Calling all Merlot lovers—Hunter Hill has released its 2013 estate Merlot ($25)—and a superb one it is, too.

 

Turn Up the Beet

Golden beets with buffalo mozzarella, plus single-malt whiskies and award-winning local Chardonnays