It’s being called the Fifth Age of Broadcasting. Beyond Newspapers producing TV, some like The Times newspaper, this week, launching a radio station, there’s more fertile ground ahead.
That ground could be hugely, resourceful if another institution gets it right — universities.
In last week’s Big Idea Digital summit I convened featuring phenomenal digital experts from India, Canada, Nigeria, Russia, the UK and US, the opportunity was laid bare. Linkedin influencers, award winning filmmakers and journalists and technologists showed the path for a fifth age within universities, brought on by present disruptive events.
The solutions lay as much in the past as the present.
Twenty years ahead, innovative content in Digital Online Remote Learning (DORL)will be viewed as au natural, just as Udacity, Udemy and Flip classrooms are today
For the moment the future comes to us through Marshall McLuhan’s rear view mirror and the inception of television. There are several in points. I’ve chosen the 1940s, a year into WWII.
In May 1940, the US Federal Communications Commission referred to NBC and its year old television programmes as an “an experimental station”. It’s a term that will be appropriate this year. NBC bosses like David Sarnoff would crow, “NBC was making the art of television available to the public” and maximising outside broadcasts called “Remotes”.
A year later, CBS, without much fanfare compared to NBC launched its raft of programmes with innovative producers providing new strands of programming to inform and entertain audiences. TV was borrowing many of Hollywood’s production methods, included its titles, such as “producers” in its innovation.
In the UK, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, a former chairman of the BBC, was confident seeing BBC television news as late as 1953 television that it would not be a serious force. Others were harsher. Twenty four years earlier. 11 a.m 30 September 1929 the BBC had transmitted its first image, bringing broadcasting into age.
Television, and news in particular (1947 onwards) established a pattern. They lifted ideas from newspapers, converted them into programmes and drew on experts from academia. As time went on this would become a sore point for newspaper barons who viewed television as vampirish, stealing their stories. In the 1930s, newspapers had previously mounted a vigorous attack on radio doing the same.
Television’s success was hard won; in the1950s BBC Senior Executive Sir Hugh Green said the TV news service was suffering from, a “BBC Radio mentality”. It was conservative and dull. Yet it would transform several industries. Politicians discovered how to reach the electorate, whilst appreciating the power of the screen. Being telegenic helped as the Republican Presidential hopeful Richard Nixon found to his cost pitted against a youthful Democrat John F Kennedy, but content was as important. It required an imaginative approach.
Skilled British film director David Wickes would transform Labour’s Harold Wilson’s 1974 campaign. Elsewhere, American evangelism got in on the act. A former lawyer Pat Robertson launched the Christian Broadcast Network, adopting television’s programme formats as it competed to rival NBC, CBS and ABC.
Years later, in the 1990s, the revolution in cable would upend media. Finally newspapers would enact their revenge on traditional TV by launching their own networks, such as New York Time Television, or Associated Newspaper’s Channel One which this author worked for. Newspapers sought to starve television of their original ideas by producing them first. That was strategy for Mirror TV, Channel One and national and local newspapers.
Today, it’s academia’s turn if it can seize the opportunity. Think, just think, where academia could be in 5 years time using their expertise to create online remote learning that will start off as experimental, before it matures, mimics and extends beyond television’s global manifesto.
To do this, require skills from TV, UX and design and digital marketers, across all disciplines. Yet unlike television, this fifth broadcasting push must all contend with the machine language age and AI.
This also places universities in a privileged position to reframe media, knowledge information. Not only to learn from the best that exists on the Net, but to correct classical narratives.
When I was featured in our School’s promo, this year, talking about storytelling, it was not lost on me how several academics already front programmes on BBC 4 in conjunction with the Open University. But more importantly that the narratives we generally unfurl are fixed in a mono culture, mono linguistic philosophy. This new techno culture allows universities to set up new models of discourse.
What if we could harness multi-lateral relationships to turn our lectures from mono narratives into something multi hyphenated? What then if we decouple from traditional media’s narrative and strengthen knowledge in themes e.g. economics, tech, history, AI and journalism by placing an emphasis, where possible, on wider diverse narratives.
In journalism, or my own practice Cinema Journalism, the writing styles of Alistair Cooke sit alongside James Baldwin, Chinua Achebe, animated by metaphors and poetry that reinforce memory.
And films I have made near the Syrian border, India, South Africa and China to name a few places are used to redirect their own histories, rather than the West’s version.
More info on where to find like minded practitioners here; the link to Cardiff School of Journalism. See promo here from Syrian shoot.
More info on where to find like minded practitioners here’s the link to Cardiff School of Journalism.
Dr David Dunkley Gyimah is a creative technologist and multi-hyphenate journalist. He’s one of the leading writers in journalism on @Medium He’s a senior lecturer at Cardiff University and a Co-investigator at Clwstwr. You can contact him here Gyimahd_at_cardiff.ac.uk. More on David here