What if journalism included physically building solutions to the future?

Dr David Dunkley Gyimah
6 min readMay 7, 2022


Journalism’s professional claims in reportage and making sense of events, issues and representation were finally undone. From 2000 onwards new 21st Century models emerged.

In the 21st century classic journalism’s grand claims were popularly debunked.

It was like the Bible’s old testament versus the new. In the old testament complexity was generally portrayed as a reduction to binaries of good and bad. In the new, nuance could be appreciated not just in tone or substance.

All sorts of new journalism’s style emerged post 2000, ranging from Videojournalism, Constructive, Multimedia journalism and Solutions. Many were the consequences of innovation in new technology. Relatively few deeply explored the obvious psychology of words and pictures and what that revealed to recipients.

New journalism spawned new businesses to attract new audiences, but the phenomena, philosophy and ideology of old journalism largely remained, rooted in its 1900 construct. For instance is any mention of journalism’s attempt at truth making that ignores the impact and importance of race, class and culture, simply untenable? Yet these, and others, are invariably rendered invisible — business as usual.

Journalism has been elitist and its belief has been that only a strata of society had any right to craft its signature. You could graduate from an elite university, train and be deployed domestically to a region or abroad and no exec would consider your lack of cultural awareness an issues.

Journalism’s birth and growth has elided between a proletarian, to elitist production. What we see today is rooted in 500 years plus of news. It’s as if Newtonian physics is still the only way of seeing the world, when Einstein proved otherwise. I have been humbled by being an advisory board member for the British Library’s new exhibition 500 years of news. It’s all there!

New journalism’s evangelists rallied against old journalism for its inadequacy in providing answers. Old journalism’s interest appeared less about what truly matters to social cohesion but how the owner-interlocutor deems it important.

How do so called British newspapers continue to gaslight, with almost statecraft zeal, information that appears blatantly obvious in events — from Brexit, to a PM breaking the law? Journalism is about power. The power to influence.

Old journalism still prevails because it’s embedded into education, training in schools, universities and professional bodies, but with some fortitude forms like Solutions Journalism should gain ground.

But why stop there? Media, and journalism have no natural boundaries. I’ve had thirty years in journalism from conflicts in South Africa, being one of the UK’s first videojournalists, to winning international awards in innovation against corporations like the BBC (who I’ve worked for) and CNN.

Why stop at Solutions Journalism? If there was a model to reboot a different type of journalism riffing off Solutions it would be Solutions Media; broader, more purposeful.

We’ve another word for it. STACKED. Just how are a new generation of media savvy students physically building their futures?

  1. What if the work didn’t stop at the article, but resulted in a build, an engineered work that contributed to the solution?
  2. What if you could work with experts/ top coaches and mentors to help you unlock your ideas, no matter how small you’d think they are that could make you a living?
  3. What if there was the university where you could build your own curriculum, and multiple exams and results weren’t the sole arbiter of your work, the process was too?

A colleague and I with innovation funds from our university are building on a programme that addresses these.

For the past three years jointly, and for me in the past eight years specifically, and 15 years broadly, I’ve been running digital labs.

STACKED is born of a strong sense to collapse multiple disciplines, principally media, tech, art, entrepreneurship and science into one and allow for collaborative creative work.

I started teaching Masters students back in 2003 how to code and build their own platforms. This morning a former student from 2010, now an admiring lecturer sent me this.

The birth of New Journalism in 2000

From the first time I stepped into Dot coms in Soho (2000) with a Powerbook G3 to digicoms today, I felt that the divisions across subjects created unnecessary boundaries. In 2001 came a major breakthrough in journalism for me, the second in my career, which would be an official endorsement within the creative industry.

My work would feature in Computer Arts — a magazine which brought together creatives of all sorts producing work across multiple platforms with an assortment of softwares.

University’s tend to prefer a model of teaching called “active teaching” in which experiential learning is encouraged, yet solutions (stacked) media could go a stage further, utilised for real world problem-solving and developing creative skills. It requires a re-engineering of processes.

There’s a moment in the film Mile 22, when the intel service’s head says the following.

“Your job is not to predict tomorrow based on yesterday, that’s what academics do. Your job is to prevent the end of tomorrow by using your brains and imagination”.

It’s a harsh comment, but it points to an arts and creative temperament. How do you fire up imagination? How do you get more creative? How do you let the agency of younger people build ideas that will craft tomorrow?

In 2010 an association with one of Europe’s leading arts and creative centres, the Southbank Centre would provide further fuel, when I was selected as an artist in residence

These last few years have revealed findings on our programme we’re using to interact with new cohorts and scale up in our new Story Hub. These findings have emerged from areas such as:

1. knowledge transfer programmes (KTPs)

2. working as a Co-i with Clwstwr and

3. working with global figures such as Jon Staton, former head of TV at Saatchi and Saatchi.

The feedback has been very generous.

Why it’s pressingly important.

We believe the programme is truly needed based on research data that firmly indicates how Gen Z have broad differences to previous gens.

  • They’re recognised as being digitally savvier than other gens; they grew up in digital.
  • They don’t see diversity as an add on
  • The boundaries between play and work are not an issue compared to previous gens.
  • There are nuanced anxieties that deserve attention.
  • Authenticity and core social issues are personalised.

The Story Hub folded around advance knowledge in storytelling is an example of Media Solutions. These include students developing VR programmes that offer immersive critical experiences, App-based stories to understand human conflict, instagram created documentaries, new food products etc.

Do you have an idea that you think will make a difference to people if it came to life? Our uni programme here; more on the Story Hub soon

#research #students #journalism #university #innovation



Dr David Dunkley Gyimah

Creative Technologist & Associate Professor. International Award Winner Cinema journalist. Ex BBC/C4News. Apple profiled Top Writer,