Michelle Ferrier discusses slow news concept at Slow Living Summit

Community residents aren't just contributing to local media through subscriptions or newsstand sales, but through active participation in news processes at all levels, said Michelle Ferrier, associate professor of Communications at Elon University.

She presented on the concept of slow news at the Slow Living Summit June 1 in Brattleboro, Vt.

The session, “How can media sustain a community? How can community sustain media?” brought together panelists Sarah Van Gelder, executive editor of Yes! Magazine, Josh Stearns, media manager of FreePress.net, and Jon Greenberg, former director of the New Hampshire Public Radio Public Insight Network.

Ferrier is also the publisher of LocallyGrownNews.com, an online community and news site focused on local food and local economies. She shared how her passion for food and gardening led her to look at the metaphor of news as food.

“If we begin to think of news as food, we see direct parallels to the news and food systems,” Ferrier said. “Citizens need access to fresh, local news and information. And some of our current media products can be seen as ‘junk food’ that affects the well being of individuals and communities.”

Ferrier also uses the news as food connection in her research on media deserts – defined as communities and places without access to fresh, local news and information. Using GIS mapping, the visualization will help journalists and activists identify locations for interventions and invention.

“When we look at the changes happening in media, we see the development of hyperlocal online news operators that are providing that fresh, local news and information,” she said.

The growth in local foodways mirrors the changes happening to the media system and perhaps points to ways of organizing how news is to be gathered, produced and distributed in the future,” Ferrier said.