• Mike Mullane

Why 'slow' beats 'fast'

Updated: May 17, 2019

What happens to a town’s only restaurant when an enormous McDonald’s opens across the street?

It is not difficult to imagine several different scenarios, but the final outcome will always depend on the quality of the food, the care that goes into making it and the cost to the consumer. But that doesn't mean undercutting the competition.

There is ample evidence that people will pay more for higher quality and a premium experience.

In catering, you can’t beat the big boys and girls by trying to compete on cost. It is the same in the news industry, where mainstream media (MSM) take the place of the fast food giants.

Quality is where the cuts are made when MSM drive down costs to boost their profits. Low paid writers rehash press releases, or cut and paste stories from the agencies, because 'churnalism' is cheaper and faster than researching and reporting.

MSM newsrooms are primarily set up for breaking news events, which allows them to combine live pictures with knee-jerk speculation and shallow analysis. 'Churnalism' fills in the gaps until the pundits are called in again.

Even some of the more reputable MSM struggle on what they regard as quiet days. The British news anchor, Jeremy Paxman, once said that on “slow” news days he felt like telling viewers to switch off.

This is where small, specialist sites should have the advantage. Just as slow food is a healthy alternative to fast food, slow journalism is about taking the time to construct a story that provides relevant context, meaningful analysis and expert opinion.

I always tell my clients to favour fewer, well-written stories over frequent updates. Not only would most people rather read a high-quality, quarterly publication, but also it will do more for your image than a rushed, monthly magazine.

I define sustainability as providing users with the highest possible quality at an affordable cost. The challenge is to find the sweet spot, where producing quality output within budget meets the right volume of output to keep users engaged.

It is quick and easy to republish your company press release as a corporate news story, but you run the risk that stakeholders and target users will feel shortchanged. Certainly, you are not giving them any reason to spend quality time on your website.

It is the job of your communications team to provide background details and insights. In other words, you need writers who either have the expertise themselves, or will take the trouble to understand what they are writing about.

You need to be able to tell compelling stories about your products and services, whether text, video or podcast. Communicating effectively generates interest and builds trust in your expertise.

Machines produce ready-to-eat food, while robots can generate content, but only people are capable of making meals or journalism that satisfy on different levels. The people you employ must be skilled and motivated, or you are wasting your time.

#quality #churnalism #sustainability #slowjournalism

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