Disruptive technologies and the ever changing human behavior is having a significant impact on journalism across the world. The old business model for public news media, and the obvious lack of meaningful content doled out to the citizens is coming under heavy focus.
One of the major challenges in modern day journalism is to tell the story of a world facing multiple crises related to the collapse of the basic political and economic systems of the modern world and the bitter reflection on human and ecological fronts.
We do have interesting debates on every media possible with politicos giving their ‘best’ solutions on the crisis, but they do not understand that every problem we encounter does not necessarily have a solution that we can identify. They do wishful thinking and grope in the dark. They imagine that identifying how existing systems have failed, guarantees the capacity to devise new systems that will succeed.
But we must agree that this is a winning attitude, not a failing one. Being unsure of success does not imply inevitability of a failure. It should not make us shrug our responsibility to struggle to understand what is happening and to act appropriately.
In fact, I think such winning attitude is required for fashioning a response to the multiple crises of the world. The eventual solutions (if there are to be), may come in frameworks so different from our current understanding that we haven’t even yet seen their possibilities, let alone the details. We need to be focused on possibilities that go beyond our imagination.
Across the world, it is becoming increasingly clear that a growing percentage of journalism is of less value to mankind. It is obsessed with entertainment and sports, large-scale spectacles; exploitation; violence; controversies and overindulgence in celebrities. One of the objects of a newspaper is to understand the popular feeling and to give expression to it; another is to arouse among the people certain desirable sentiments; and the third is fearlessly to expose popular defects.
What we get today is material that increasingly diminishes our capacity for independent critical thinking. A new journalism is needed.
As we continue to deal with the collapse of journalism, we need to refocus on the future of journalism and the perilous journey ahead.
When journalists today tell us stories set on the base value of perpetual progress and endless expansion, they need to redefine the idea of progress in a world that is no longer expanding. A world that is drawing realistically closer to the one depicted in the movie ‘2010’.
We believe that use of advanced technology is always a good thing and that any problems caused by the unintended consequences of such technology can be remedied by more technology. We believe that the future is always bright, apparently because we wish it to be so, without an understanding of the limits of our knowledge to control the larger world.
Present day journalism needs to deal with a harsh reality that we have to make do with far less energy, which means lesser technology and better ecological sensitivity.
Such a world will no doubt be a harder world in some ways. Telling this story is important in a world where countries believe that good life means higher consumption and acquisition of sophisticated technology.
The journalism of the future would include stories about the problems we face in the world with less energy; our new definitions of progress and the good life and how some communities are coping with the threats.
Journalists willing to take this position will find themselves in a tense place, between a ruling elite that is not interested in seriously changing the world and a general public that typically craves for more.
Few are guilty but all are responsible. Our future depends on recognizing that we all are responsible. Those of us in affluent sectors of society have the most to answer for, and the task of journalists is to raise questions uncomfortable for us all.