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Slow news is good news with Peter Laufer

Are you a news junkie? Do your RSS feeds and Twitter alerts interrupt meals, classes and even sleep? If so, you are the reason Peter Laufer wrote his most recent book, “Slow News.”

Laufer is the James Wallace chair in journalism at the University of Oregon school of journalism and communication and previously worked as a foreign correspondent for NBC News and as a reporter for ABC and CBS radio. In a lecture on the WSU Vancouver campus Friday, Laufer said most Americans should take a vacation from instant news and use their time in other, more enjoyable ways.

Laufer believes Americans have been “trained by the media” to think we need immediate access to all news, all the time. He made his point when Evan Flanagan, a senior majoring in digital technology and culture, received an instant news feed from the Associated Press concerning a murder in Georgia. Laufer pointed out that this information is irrelevant to most people in the Pacific Northwest.

Laufer blames “fast news” for inaccurate coverage of news stories such as the initial information released on the Newtown massacre. He said news organizations that report fast news potentially sacrifice validity and insight. This is one reason he advocates for “yesterday’s news tomorrow.”

The author shared suggestions from his book that are intended to help fast news addicts kick the habit:

  1. Consider the importance of news to your own life: Is everything that happens to Britain’s royal family relevant to you?
  2. Do not get immersed in a story too soon without proper context.
  3. Seek news commentary you do not agree with — especially when the media is fractured on a topic.
  4. Check out alternative news perspectives such as Al Jazeera or the British Broadcasting Comany.
  5. Allow time for accuracy, clarity and balance to develop in a news story.
  6. Shut off your news feed and social media alerts for 24 hours. “Then compare how your day went without superfluous input,” said Laufer.
  7. Unless there is a breaking crisis in your own backyard, do not let news dominate and dictate your life.
  8. “Look for journalism, not stenography,” said Laufer. Beware of public relations masquerading as news.

“Let us think for a minute instead of being barraged by the next tweet. We might have a more thoughtful response,” said Laufer.

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