Can we create a new mandate for public journalism?

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I’ve filmed, produced, and reported news stories. So what? I watch the news yet I often think am I any wiser afterwards about what’s going on?

I’m sat with my niece, a brilliant graphic designer, Karima, who’s recently graduated in publishing media from Oxford Brookes University. I have an idea for opening up journalism, which she’s busily prototyping. God knows something needs to be done. What does journalism do? It once had a mandate — inform, educate and entertain. Today? There appears to be value in informing — even when you’ve an idea of what’s ahead noted in this string.

Is my conception of a story and its production different from you with your mobile? The scions tell us everyone’s a journalist. I’m no scion, but I can accept that, but it’s not that simple. Is there a skill set, oath, regs that news journalists should adhere to? Yes, fluidly you might say: objectivity, fairness, impartiality, and balance, but these depend on your own ideology.

Objectivity is knowing 2+2=4, but what happens when you choose not to acknowledge that when the evidence appears incontrovertible. What’s the consequences, knowing for instance that black people, from historical texts, have been in England since the 16th century, but that’s ignored. Or that in explaining the Chinese suspicion of the West you ignore to tell readers about their treatment from the Versaille Treaty.

You may believe facts don’t matter — an attainment of knowledge based on evidence. It would generally rule you out from becoming a doctor, or an engineer, but journalism? It never was a homogenous discipline, but if the public, the recipients of news knowledge continue to support the views of platforms pumping out flawed facts, what hope for the future?

Public Engagement

What’s needed is public education of journalism and history. Imagine universities opening their doors to the public, or going into communities to explain sans the intemperate exchanges fuelled by Brexit.

Earlier this week I was listening to Jeremy Deller, the Turner award winning artist, on BBC Radio 4. Jeremy’s behind a string of pieces that provoke thought. He brought a bombed out mangled car from Iraq which was on display at the war museum, re-enacted the miners-police clash of the Thatcher years and then staged this, for Remembrance Day which made me cry when I first saw it and made me tear up again.

This is art meets journalism at its potent.

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I’m no Jeremy Deller, but I share his ideals, and doff my cap to his wit. I’m fortunate enough to have shared space with him when we, and many others, were artists in residence at the Southbank. He co-created Collisions — an artist gathering in which I was able to learn from Mark Cousins whom I elected as my mentor.

Mark ( left) who’s behind the The Story of Film: An Odyssey, A Story of Children and Film, The Eyes of Orson Welles, makes that make you think, deeply. Imagine if films about news events did the same.

We watch the news, but are we any wiser? Doe it create collective memory? Is it arcane in its attempt to educate us, and are we aware of its ideological streak, and our own?

Bring back the Empire some Brexiteers opine. In the US, native Indians are seen by youngster as the invaders. If television news spent enough time informing the public (strip the hubis and expensive suits) gaining their trust, then I wager we wouldn’t be in half the mess we are today.

It requires a civic engagement- something that has been done before, but often is confide to town halls. It requires a bold divorce from the status quo. A consequence quotient!

Part of the prototype we’re developing is as much art as it anticipates technology. Will it work? We can only give it a go, but I’m confident doing nothing won’t help and universities are in a strong position to be at the forefront of a new type of education.

The point is television news is becoming white noise and it needs to find a way of innovating and not pretending the status quo is alright.

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Click here to see previous innovation by this author

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Written by

Top Writer & Creative Technologist, Int. Award Winner. Cinemajournalist. Cardiff Uni @jomec. PhD (Dublin). Visiting Prof UBC, Ex BBC/C4News. Apple profiled.

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