Slow journalism - an oxymoron? A discussion of the potential for slow journalism in Denmark

Simon Haugaard Corydon

Student thesis: Master thesis


Slow journalism has surfaced as the latest vogue word in the with time long-running quest to present journalism with the grand solution to its contemporary crisis, and many of recent years most radical and innovative, let alone successful, media stories has more or less deliberately been described as adherents of slow journalism. The concept, that draws its inspiration from The Slow Movement, arose in the mid-2000’s, and, has like aforesaid movement, since disseminated all over the Western hemisphere. Similar to The Slow Movement, which is not sanctioned by a central organization, it is inherently open label, and its momentum primarily propounded and maintained by mostly independent media organizations, which constitute the informal, yet expanding community of slow journalism. Correspondingly, slow journalism has unfolded more in practice than in theory, and its concrete operationalization often varies across geographical contexts. Moreover, the concept has just recently been adopted by academia and consequently there exists only little scholarly work about slow journalism. As these accounts exclusively emanates from the Anglophone world, the present project aims to adopt the concept to a Danish context where so far no media explicitly associate with the slow journalism tag, although that is the case for most of the countries’ neighbouring as well as other comparable countries. In doing so, the paper not only draws upon the hitherto limited academic accounts of slow journalism, it also tries to ground the concept in theory of creative and cultural industries, and assess slow journalism as a cultural product in order to render it more theoretically tangible. The ambition of the project is thus two-fold. First, the thesis seeks to account for the hitherto limited academic contributions, and subsequently ground the concept of slow journalism in creative industries theory. Second, the thesis will discuss the potential for that type of journalism in Denmark through interviews with centrally placed agents in the Danish journalistic field. Breaking down hitherto accounts of the concepts, what can be seen is that the distinctively slow about slow journalism is the dimension of time in both production and consumption, independence from commercial and organizational interests, as well as transparency with regards to sources and methods, 2 all subsumed in the ambition to communicate to the highest standards of the storytelling craft. More than just another token of quality journalism, slow journalism can be perceived as a journalistic equivalent to Slow Food in its orientation towards a sustainable, local and organic production. Thus slow is not only to be understood literally as slow in a temporal sense, but also as a critical (re)orientation to the effects of speed on the practice of journalism, and an ethical strategy to counterbalance rather than overturn these effects. As a cultural product, slow journalism is – at least hypothetically – more likely to occur within media products and genres where the ratio between symbolic content and functional usage is to the advantage of the former, as well as have a greater incidence of non-standardized and flexible tasks and labour autonomy, which taken to the journalistic field would often equate the area of niche production. However, in a Danish context, slow journalism’s stylistic focus of narrative storytelling might place it relatively low with regards to its total amount of capital, as investigative types of journalism, which in many ways represents a counterpart to narrative journalism, has been a dominant value in the Danish journalistic field for decades. This notion was confirmed in the subsequent field analysis. Craft was identified as dominant symbolic capital of the field, because of the specific institutional history of the apprenticeship tradition and the trade school monopoly that has seen the educational institutions subject to a great deal of influence from especially the traditional branch of the industry at both a structural level with majority in boards, and on a more practical level through the compulsory internship, which often functions as a socialization to the industry’s norms and values. As applicants to the journalistic educations become increasingly homogeneous, this field orthodoxy is not only further enforced; the doxa of the field is potentially preserved, rendering it self-referential in a way that ends up discriminating external input. As the field has traditionally been dominated by the traditional branches of the media industry, a crucial factor for its development and for the potential of slow journalism in Denmark is the recognition of the internet as a medium in its own right and with its own idiosyncracies, and not just a prolongation of existing formats. With its radical changes in material base and semiotic codes, as well as its ability to contain the formats of the traditional mass media, it calls for logic of recreation rather than preservation if its possibilities for substantiation, communication and co-creation are to be utilized.

EducationsMSocSc in Management of Creative Business Processes , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015
Number of pages117