I’d like to e̶n̶t̶e̶r̶t̶a̶i̶n ̶innovate you. Robbie Williams reversioned, but first this story.
“I like Britain”, she said. “I’m British, but here it’s like uuhh, whilst in the US, they’re like let’s do it”. This is what one of one of the world’s most innovative women in tech-journalism said to me recently.
One of the few markers for let’s do it is happening at the RTS Television Journalism Awards. I have been a juror, so I got an invite. It’s an opportunity to look at trends, meet old friends and make new acquaintances.
Beyond that, more serious matters. The winner of the category Home Current Affairs in which I was a judge was The Fires that Foretold Grenfell, a cinematic, dramatic and historical account of similar fires involving cladding as early as 1973 on Douglas, Isle of Man to Lakanal House, London in 2009.
The finale for the event was a lifetime achievement award for one of the nicest people in the news industry. After 38 years ITV News managing editor Robin Elias is calling it a day. His parting comment was a sombre. There’s more work to be done in diversity.
In this same week Claire Wardle, another woman doing extraordinary things in the industry spoke to a team of us about a problem within her field. It’s a problem with many industries. It’s time to step away from bright shiny things. This message comes from Oxford University and the Reuter’s Institute authored by Julie Posetti — extraordinary woman.
My own tuppence. We’re caught in a bright shiny things race. And the weight of pursuing the shiny thing has led to cognitive overload as well as a stockholm syndrome. We’re wedded to a goal where tech solves everything, ignoring the advances made looking inside our own heads. We’re all town criers feeding beliefs into a narrower ecosystem than what was previously there.
Ideas, diversity and innovation. These three tenets are framing qualities. What is it that enables us to generate ideas and innovate? Who tells the story? And what evidence suggests a different empirical outcome?
My Award in the US
The major award ( anniversary time) that I won in the US and Berlin was not the prize per se, but the validation of these aforementioned qualities which I share with others. Yet people, generally different to the makeup of Britain’s creative boardrooms, with disciplines tangential to existing task forces, pose questions. A penchant for progression, what some call disruption, can be seen as an imposition.
To Sleep with Anger (1990) directed by Charles Burnett and starring Danny Glover is a wonderful exposition of symbols, a broom laying across the ground, that you could easily miss. Roma, is impressionism and neorealism captured quietly and poetically through a masterful lens. Its journalism equivalents exist.
Storytelling is solving a problem. Its flaw is its design and heuristic thinking. Adolescents see the world differently from adults. Semiotics — learned behaviour — was once the key to unlock behaviours, now usurped by brain functioning of the various cortex e.g. Prefrontal cortex. Few institutions teach this. Hence a rubik’s cube became a news game. Whilst a touch screen to pose a question to a key figure also caught the judges attention. Picked up by Apple was this outward facing Internet (Outernet) that links with other locations for neighbourhood ideas.
The site www.viewmagazine.tv embraced neuroscience in how our brains interpret stories, cinema as a substrate for deep memory, and artistic practice within design thinking. Different groups and communities envelop these cultural indexes differently.
These are the very qualities that spark innovation, which were on display when I co-produced the Leader’s List exhibition. Seeing problems differently.
I grew up in Ghana, was partly brought up by foster parents in the UK and trained as an applied chemist and so possess a keen science methodology.
I had a strong urge for storytelling so went into journalist working for Newsnight, Channel 4 News etc, before becoming an artist — working as an artist in residence at the Southbank Centre. Sharing knowledge and practice is the gift to give.
There are shifts afoot, slow but perceptible. Western philosophy that dominated world thinking internationally is under strain. There are patterns in the 1920s, 1860s, 1700s and 3000 BC. History in uncoiling itself, I told my class of MA students. There’s geo-political pivots e.g. Africa, and China building a super global journalism network . They’re putting together the London arm of their operation makes no bones about taking on the Western way of seeing things creatively and narratively. In Edo art of the 1600 we see VR in its prototypical form. And those new business models? They’re making do in the markets of Ghana.
Every moment is an opportunity to learn and share something new, my father would tell me. Opportunity. Opportunity to share ideas at the highest and challenging areas. Let me e̶n̶t̶e̶r̶t̶a̶i̶n ̶innovate you, co-create, and that key note?
Dr David Dunkley Gyimah is an academic, artist and cinema journalism filmmaker. He is one of @medium top writers in journalism and has shared his ideas with among others the FT, Middle Eastern businesses, Europe, India and China.