How radical think in journalism could address whataboutalism etc

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By the turn of the 2020s, with AI in a rich seam and an Internet of things invading every device in your house and working life, the automation of tasks will slay a bewildering composite of things we do. The impact on social and jobs will be tangible. You don’t need to read the time, read the news, read your competitor, read period.

Data will be ubiquitous and all encompassing. Hell, it’ll be like the air we breathe co-existing as air curtains to access.

In an economy sated by images and immediate gratification, by privilege and diminishing lack of attention, the quality of reasoning will ebb ever further towards ignorance and deeper whataboutalism. We’ve been here before. It wasn’t the Net that did this, it was each technology leap; the alphabet, printing press, enlightenment, steam, electricity, industrial, modern, and Net.

Each generation has created its own version of the entitlement society, where the combination of capitalism, personal gratification and desire and irrationality has led to the next gen expecting more. We enshrine this thinking with the saying… “Back in my days..” blithely making the point we, back then, were more civil. Each to his and her own.

In the 1920s the brilliant American journalism and scholar Walter Lipmann observed the new disease within 20th century society. Generally, people were thought of as incompetent, irrational, so gullible that prone to acting on their subconscious mind, fears and xenophobia, Lipmann advocated that exceptionally minded men and women needed to govern these sheep. He might as well pulled up a history book on antiquity Rome, Caesar and gladiators.

Brexit’s mask is the Griff nach der Welmacht in which decades after WWII historians finally laid bare to the German people about their country’s foreign policy and how the Versailles Treaty had carved up the territories, rather than unilateral external aggression. Politicians hid the truth.

By Lipmann’s prognosis democracy yields a conceptual framework in which elites would have to rule, because generally people are stupid. We bought into it then and it persists today. At the dawn of radio, the possibility for synchronous broadcasting existed, but the BBC’s first DG Lord Reith said something to the effect, the population is too naive to know what to do with the tech. CB Radio, critics say, in part proved his point.

Facebook and the notion everything is filmable, even against a backdrop of aiding someone in need, rather than addling them on film, is another, supposedly. Just because you can […], doesn’t necessarily mean you [….] ought to. Insert your own variable was the elites’ thinking. The father of PR Edward Bernays made a lifelong career duping the imbecilic public and then sold his techniques to manufactures who invented consumerism. We must no longer feel the need for something because of its utility, but we must desire it for, amongst others, its flagrancy.

If society knew back then and journalists were enamoured by the dark strange forces extolled by Freud about our inadequacies, why have we largely not addressed these flaws? Why do we slavishly still follow sloganeers? Why might we entertain the telling of lies, but find it unacceptable when the store manager short changes us and insists he’s right. Why do you feel the need to answer a question with a tangential question in seeking a resolution?

History is on our side. It’s not in the interest of several democracies to educate its people. Sometimes it’s de facto unintentional.

Several times it’s about maintaining the status quo. Journalism is guilty here. It’s not in the interest of those who make their living to see it changed. In 1950 journalism becried the use of small bolex cameras by journalists as depleting the profession’s credibility.

In the 1990s, they argued one person was not cognisant enough to film and interview at the same time. In 2005 newspapers couldn’t do video, and you the public, well…? All the while though, blinded by an inevitability, journalism as a mode of communication adumbrates psychology, neuroscience, memory studies, and behavioral mind matters.

Yet there is no essence of it anyway. It is a make-belief declaration of its intended principles. Part stenography, part contextual thinking.

I don’t profess to have the answers other than with thirty years innovation and comms, not everything that quacks like a duck is a duck. A literate re-revolution is needed to safeguard a new generation where critical thinking isn’t about what you learn but by how you penetrate the inners of learning, how you dare to learn.

It’s a desire towards objective truths by listening to an acknowledging others. Empathy. Last year I headed up a new course along the lines of journalism 3.0 enveloped within story forms that exposed our inadequacies. Students (in photos) survey epic projects that can make a difference: Russian professional elite women; Olympian athletes; Young Chinese and British first time home buyers; Non linear podcasting; and mobile games capturing the journey of refugees.

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Student Nasma presents, joined by lecturer Sandra Gaudenzi. On the right, expert Nick Pollard (middle) former head of Sky news and Ofcom and Guild of Entrepreneurs Judy and Simon

The approach means reverting to some things of yore. Getting to know nature (principles), rather than being nurtured within another artificiality. Acknowledging what you know and blind spots, building on emotional intelligence to foster greater humility and resilience. And giving people, the courage to take risks by thinking of problems when a solution doesn’t necessarily present itself. In the past month, just look at what the Thai Cave collaboration achieved.

Creativity is the application of different ideas across disciplines and when they fail to yield, there must exist courage to rethink again. These are the stories inspired by Mozart, Darwin, Curie, Dr Shirley Jackson, Elijah McCoy, Da Vinci, Cezanne, we’re busily adopting.

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Dr David Dunkley Gyimah, leader of the disLAB

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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