How to commit the perfect journalism: don’t be a journalist

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So I’m confused. If the A.I. is reading my emotions, which will affect the timeline of the news film, and she (pointing to her friend) how does…

“Exactly!”, I said anticipating her dilemma.

Coming to a screen near you in the near future, how your gestures will impact what your television news shows you. Actually, what the producer wants you to experience or not, sold as you the viewer being in control.

The process is akin to videohyperlinking, which I mooted back in 2006 and was interviewed by the Economist after building a prototype. Today it’s a whisker away to being mass here.

But there’s a problem, which the student sitting in my office is wrestling with. Our emotions are not the same. Your response to a scenario may differ from a family member, let alone, a friend, and unremarkably someone from a different culture.

Dr Lisa Barrett, in her ground breaking book, How Emotions are Made, opens up another nice can of worms. Your emotions are made up by you and your environment. You’re not hardwired after all. And then this week, this. Ahh so AI has been fed a load of data on, er, one group more than the other, so it’s acting on what it’s interpreting as the norm. Oh dear! A.I discrimination in the offing circa 21st century and beyond.

So what’s this got to do with journalism, you’re asking. It’s just the latest in a line of onslaughts, if you can call it that, which renders journalism impotent, more often than I care to consider not being up for it — in the 21st century.

Impotent, because for all the new new things (a title of a must read book) this millennium in particular, the dash for tech is seen as the panacea to journalism. Here goes: multimedia journalism, videojournalism, mobile journalism, data journalism, data journalism, 360 journalism, VR journalism, and soon to be name A.I journalism. What! they’re calling that already!!

In this respect, you have to feel sorry for journalism. It’s like the last person to be picked in a line up for game of tag and then to make it feel good is given a qualifier, “don’t worry we’re calling you ballsy Betsy”, or daring Dan, just so you can feel good.

The first act of God says the late brilliant thinker Leonard Shlain in his book Art and Physics was to give Adam the power of labelling and hence he had dominion over all species. Translated to journalism that gives ownership to those new forms by its architects. But quite often the core of this thing called journalism had to be dragged kicking and screaming into a future to understand these new forms.

Here’s the connudrums laid out. Anything, anything, that aids in your quest for information and how you truthfully, with integrity, might put it together constitutes journalism. At some point, I’m sure we went from quill journalism to pen journalism then that new fandago the typewriter. Da la Typewriter journalism.

Then the computer arrived and briefly it was called computer journalism. I used that term too in the mid 1990s. Yet for any doctor that went online to search archives, or used VR to perform a laparoscopy, they were never referred to as cyber doctors. Perish the thought. Doctor, with a nod from their profession of their specialism, would do.

Unlike several other professions, journalism or many of its practitioners feel that adjective is needed because :

  • They’d rather think those new ideas are beyond what true journalism is about, or they’re an adjunct.
  • Businesses spot a new opportunity to build a new industry around these name and flog you device after device as if it’s the manna from heaven.

Its compounded in other ways. The era of digital provides a false sense that just because you can do everything, you need to do everything. A generation know no differently because the gear has been made bespokely for them.

So you tweet, tumblr, steemit, mobile blithely unaware that collaborative and shared problem-solving isn’t something made up for journalism or tech, it’s been how people have solved problems since when, and journalism is problem-solving.

And here we are. In the left corner that construct circa 1700s, or its electronic equivalent television journalism in 1940 that holds firm to what journalism should be. Then 2018 onwards with a world e.g. PR, Marketeers etc beating the senses out of journalism’s antiquated habits, and continually getting one over.

The first rule of journalism fight club, should be everything you do legitimately to get the story is journalism and if that feels challenging, if you want to do journalism, do everything other than what core journalism is wanting to teach you.

Know about neuroscience and how the brain reacts to stories. Know how psychology enables your subject to destroy your copy: Trump’s Lies and Your Brain via Politico. Accept that this thing called Journalism is but a collection of schemas; Law, literature,history, geography, philosophy, tech, etc.

Hell, to commit the perfect journalism: don’t be a journalist at all, or call yourself one. Be that curious, restless, busy-body, won’t-take-no-for an-answer s.o.b.

So I says to the student, we can tick that one off. Next 360/VR, ad with that being all the rage, why again should we limit ourselves. “Do you consider yourself a creative?”, I asked. She did was her reply.

Good then A.I, VR will be one of many things you’ll become acquainted with to give you choices to collaborate with others to tell your story. After all you’re a journalist!

postcript: Yeah but David you call yourself a cinema journalist. What’s with that? I’m going to drop the cinema. Can you still feel me?

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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