Might be my age, but sometimes I really appreciate things being a bit slower.
Which is why the old headline trick – use an emotive word to seize the eyeballs – did the business when I saw a conscious move to provide us with slow news.
Yes, not instant news, citizen journalism, live eyewitness accounts or anything like that. Slow news. Take more time, think, breathe, consider, debate. Like the slow food movement, giving you something a little more provocative to chew on.
Former BBC and The Times chief James Harding is the frontman behind Tortoise Media, which has secured a decent level of Kickstarter and personal investor funding, and says it will bring paid-for, curated content to people overwhelmed by (largely) free news snippets fizzing past their faces. It’s more slow editorial than slow news, but only because we haven’t yet come up with a term for more in-depth, thoughtful, considered content in the digital age.
The truth, or the avoidance of fake news, plays a part in it too, though the focus is more on the depth and quality of the words.
The assertion that Tortoise Media content will be “the equivalent of an evening leader conference in a newspaper” is an interesting one, given that leaders are typically the only part of a conventional newspaper where journalists are able to give their opinion, rather than offer straightforward, untainted reporting.
But the emergence of an earned media genre that is not simply “long reads” but effectively a revamp of what for years has been known as features is a really interesting one. For brands wanting to be part of more thoughtful, more researched and probably more memorable content curated by senior editorial teams that can be digested by audiences actively seeing to take their time doing so, slow news, post-feature features or seminal ‘state of the issue’ articles are surely a very attractive and potentially fertile area to target.
“The love child of TED Talks and The Economist,” Harding calls it. Both of those have done a sterling job of monetising what they do and developing attractive new formats by embracing the rise of the internet rather than trying to defend themselves against its rapid encroachment. Like all love children, it may end up looking both familiar and different, and ready to shake things up a bit.
In a world of persistent news snippets and questions over information authenticity, we are probably more than ready and willing to shell out for ‘tortoise’ content.