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Peter Laufer Wants Yesterday's News Tomorrow

OPB | Jan. 15, 2013 12:06 p.m. | Updated: Sept. 11, 2013 12:25 a.m.

If you think “Yesterday’s News Tomorrow” seems like a funny motto for a journalist, you haven’t met Peter Laufer. This long-time journalist, author and media critic says this is the motto for the Slow News movement. It’s a movement that’s well underway in Italy, where the Slow Food movement started. (And in fact Laufer’s manifesto has already been published in Italian; an English version is coming soon.)

Inspired by Michael Pollan’s Food Rules, Laufer details 28 rules for news consumers, along with some cautionary tales for journalists as well. The rules include:

  • Embrace fairness (as opposed to objectivity) in news reports
  • Allow your news time to jell
  • Shut off the all-news channels whenever you can
  • Seek information about news stories from multiple sources
  • Buy some of your news
  • Don’t become a news junkie

Fast news, he says, is not necessarily good or accurate. Witness the early reports about the Sandy Hook shooting, when many outlets incorrectly reported details about the shooter’s identity, how many shooters there were, and where his mother was when she was shot. Laufer recalls he was in his car when he heard the initial reports, and forced himself to switch to a jazz station. He says he read about it in the newspaper the next day, when the facts were in.

What makes up your daily or weekly news diet? Are you happy with it? What do you think of the idea of Slow News?

Editor’s note: Peter Laufer will be giving a free lecture at the University of Oregon’s Turnbull Center in Portland on Tuesday, January 15, at 7 p.m.

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