By Christina Trester
How lucky are we that we got to go see some of the greatest sights in the world? Experiencing these things with one of my best friend and 12 other strangers was an experience I won’t ever forget. Traveling with people forms a bond you can’t imagine. Wandering the streets of an ancient city like Prague and getting lost brings you closer to the people you’re lost with in an interesting way.
Friendships were made very quickly in these 17 days. It’s a rare circumstance that can bring a group of people together and make them so close in such a short amount of time. We got to experience so many things together and it’s something we will share for many years to come.
Not only did we get to experience all of the sights and wonders these four countries had to offer, but we actually did learn a lot along the way. Getting to visit and hear from the people who are doing news reporting and advertising in different countries helped me understand the culture of those countries and the general culture of news overall.
There are so many differences between the newsrooms in the four different countries. My particular favorite was the acceptance of dogs in the offices of McCann-Erickson in Prague. I wish I could bring my dog with me every time I went to work. It would certainly make the work day more enjoyable!
However, a lot of things are the same too. The idea of journalism and the standards that we all live by are similar, if not the same. We all have the same respect for our profession and hold news to a high standard. Theories behind what we do remain constant even if the way we apply them are different.
One topic that really stuck with me after I came home was the difference between “fast” news and “slow” news. We discussed this in Rome at Pontificia Università della Santa Croce with Rev. Prof. José María La Porte, the dean of the school of church communications. This concept is not necessarily new to me, but it’s something that was specifically pointed out to me in Rome. It’s a theory we all live by in the news world.
The idea is that “fast” news is very much like fast food. It’s quick, not in depth not the best food (news) you’ve ever had, but it serves its purpose well. The best example of this kind of news is breaking news. Typically, it does not go in depth into the issue it is reporting on. Its main purpose is to get the facts out there and let the reader know what is happening.
“Slow” food on the other hand is the sit-down restaurant where you have to wait a little longer for your food, but the quality is much higher. It’s the meals you sit and enjoy over a period of time. Similarly, “slow” news is the long-form stories that dig deep into an issue and get to the main problem or point. These news stories take time both to write and to read. They have a lot of detail and do not come out on deadline. They are published when the story is ready instead of being dictated by the timing of an event.
In my time here at the Mizzou School of Journalism, I have devoted a lot of my effort and focus on the creation of information graphics. So, when we had this discussion, I thought a lot about how it applied to me in that capacity. It is still especially true with graphics that some are “fast” news and others “slow” news.
We have shifts every week where we work on both kinds of news. Typically when we come in there will be a request or two for the “fast” news kind of graphics. These graphics would be something like this:
It’s not particularly interesting visually, nor does it tell a very detailed story. It does, however, tell you the exact location of a new student housing complex and get the basic knowledge you need to know out to the reader. These graphic are not the ideal of most any artist, but they are very necessary and serve the reader well. They pair well with stories and are a quick and easy reference.
“Slow” news graphics are typically more self-generated projects. They are in depth, can use more complicated illustrations and normally have several parts to them. An example of this type of graphic would be this (click on the image to see the whole interactive graphic):
This was my final project for the information graphics class. I spend most of the semester researching and putting this graphic together. These are the types of graphics we like to do better because they really dissect a topic and get to the bottom of what it means. They serve the readers by giving them the details on a topic or problem and sometimes can give solutions. They are our equivalent of an investigative reporting or other long-form pieces.
It’s interesting to me that I went all the way to Rome and learned something that is so applicable to my everyday work. Knowing the difference between these two different types of news and graphics can really help to prioritize and understand what the focus of each type needs to be.
My attitude going into my shifts has been slightly different, especially when looking at the “fast” news graphics. I understood before that they didn’t have to be the most beautiful and detailed graphics, but I understand now why that is.
I learned a lot on this fast paced trip. I could go on and on about all the lessons I learned from finally liking beer to the structure of different newsrooms to the similarities that exist in all journalism even if it’s on a different continent as well as the differences. I will take this life experience with me and apply it to my life for many, many years to come.