Gente do papel: Matthew Lee, Delayed Gratification
Nesta edição da "Gente do Papel" falámos com o Matthew Lee, editor da Delayed Gratification, sobre narrativas lentas, notícias de última hora e revistas independentes. Sábado, dia 22 de Setembro, o Matthew vai estar presente no Manifesto para a palestra “Why slow journalism matters”.
Who is Matthew? Tell us a little more about your background.
I’m a co-founder and an associate editor at The Slow Journalism Company, publishers of Delayed Gratification. I’ve also worked as a freelance journalist for several years and I used to edit magazines for airlines and write travel guides.
We live in an age of speed, where information and quantity are often misled by knowledge and quality. This has an immediate impact when we talk about how we consume news. Do you believe we need to slow down to understand what is happening around us?
Slow journalism is about slowing down the news cycle to produce journalism with depth, accuracy, context and perspective – something everyone in our team felt was sorely needed with today's ultra-fast news cycle. The news media’s obsession with breaking news means they’re constantly chasing headlines and rarely stepping back to try to understand how news stories affect people’s lives and change things in the long term. We’re not advocating Slow Journalism as an alternative to ‘fast news’ but we think it’s healthy to have outlets offering ‘slow’ perspectives to complement the mainstream media.
Delayed Gratification is a magazine about slow journalism that invites us to read long-form stories and well-researched articles with beginnings and ends. Is DG a real antidote to the throwaway news?
That’s what we’re hoping to do. We’re all being bombarded with information all day long – social media, apps, news alerts on smartphones, advertising – and we’re hoping to offer something a bit more meaningful and nourishing. Beginnings and ends are really important to us – not only in the sense that we want to see where a news story ends, but because we’re really interested in narrative. We hope to entertain as well as inform, and so we try and fill our magazine with compelling stories.
Making a magazine about news and events that happened three months ago must be a challenge. How do your team decide which stories deserve to be revisited and which don’t?
We make sure we cover the biggest news events of each quarter but we also try to bring to light stories our readers may have missed. The key question we ask is can our Slow Journalism approach offer a fresh or helpful perspective on a story? On some occasions we don’t cover a particular news event because we don’t feel we can offer a perspective that isn't already out there. There are other considerations – we try and have a good geographical spread of stories in each issue, we try to cover a broad range of topics (sport, culture, science, finance etc) and we always must consider the overall tone of the magazine. In a period when there are lots of depressing news stories we can't cover them all because each issue needs both light and shade.
One of our favorite articles from the issue 25 was “Against the Tide” where the journalist Vlad Sokhin tell us that he spent two years and 36 hours to get to Tokelau in order to photograph the effects of global warming on the island. Do think we need more 'slow' journalists to report and tell in-depth stories?
I’d like to stress that there’s plenty of what we call ‘slow journalism’ out there and much of it is fantastic, but yes, we would love to see more. There are many positive signs – for example, the BBC is now talking about focusing on slow news. The challenge for all news organisations including our own is one of resources – speeding up is considered efficient and it costs money to slow down. Journalists need to get paid so a story for which the journalist has spent weeks or even months doing research is going to be expensive. We’re a small independent magazine so we’re not yet in a position where we can be as ambitious as we’d like to be, but we’re getting there.
Thanks to the internet, we have more information than ever. But, for some reason, we are constantly reading the same fake news and watching the same viral videos. Meanwhile, we have a new wave of print publications that proof that paper isn’t dead. Do you believe that the upcoming digital generation will see slow journalism and printed publications as something trustworthy?
We do a lot of talks at universities and we have lots of young interns work with us, and it’s really encouraging to see how enthusiastic millennials are about journalism and printed publications. I think trust is part of the reason – while information on social media can easily be edited, doctored or deleted, and you can never be entirely sure where it's from, information in print is permanent and you know exactly who’s produced it. It’s more substantial.
Which printed magazines inspire you the most?
I’m a politics and current affairs nerd so I love The New Yorker. The writing is always of the highest quality and I love how it’s barely changed over the years. The design isn’t spectacular but some of the recent covers, especially those about Trump, have been so sharp and funny. We share an office space with Stack Magazines, so we get to see many independent magazines from around the world. People are making some really strange and wonderful magazines!
What do you hope Delayed Gratification will achieve in the future?
If you’d told me in 2010, the year we launched, that we’d still be around after seven years I’d have been delighted and maybe a little bit surprised. Like any independent magazine, our first goal was to survive. We’ve been growing steadily ever since our launch and things are going well, but there’s still a long way to go. I hope our readership grows to the extent that we can afford to invest some serious money in some seriously slow journalism. I’d love to commission a writer or a photographer to spend three or four months – or maybe even a year – working on a single story so we can have even more depth and detail, and produce something really special.