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Friday, 22 April 2016

If you want to be a #journalist don't do a journalism degree - and other views & advice from @jonsnowc4 #polis2016

Yesterday I attended a Journalism & Crisis conference put on by the LSE

It was held in London ( #Polis2016 ) and the conference website is hereIn some future posts I'll summarise some of the ideas I heard.  But for this post I've focused mainly on the keynote address by Jon Snow

Charlie Beckett (LSE) opened up the conference and pointed out it’s the 7th. He ended his intro with "Journalism is perhaps never more important than when things in the world go catastrophically wrong – crisis reporting can literally be a matter of life and death. Let’s try, against all the odds, to make it better."

Here is the  
text of the introductory speech

Jon’s Snow’s (Channel 4) opening address was on “Alienation & Crisis – can journalism win back public trust?”

video found via @PolisLSE

Jon mapped out his views of am increasingly alienated, untrusting and disintegrating society/world served badly by dysfunctional political systems . A world where:

- the certainties of the cold war have been replaced by uncertainties;

- we don’t recognise ourselves in an un-reformed mostly white, male & privileged “Westminster bubble” parliament (that keeps growing in size as it devolves powers which operates as if it were still in the 19th century);

- we have been rendered poorer by small group of people who have not been held to account nor borne the consequences of the financial crisis they created;

- the recent history of initial optimism about Blair’s new labour was wrecked by going to war with Iraq – a country of which we knew little and cared less.

- we have followed the crazy policy of excluding Iran from any Middle East solutions;

- an explosion in social media which has “stoked” these fires and given us more information which we then don’t do anything about. It has provided a shouty digital therapy room with a gotcha culture that judges quickly and from which ill-considered posts can rarely be taken back. Perhaps the digital has also helped to subdue us politically;

- young people are less likely to vote & forced by enormous debt to be conservative.

I think his answer to the winning public trust back question was:

a) if you want to be a journalist don't do a journalism degree;

b) our chances to win back trust will be increased if journalists have regular "raw and dirty" experience of what life looks like for those without much power. That perspective powerfully informs and enhances their journalism. “View the global north from the global south’s perspective”

Some other stuff

From the session and the Q&A afterwards here are a few quotes from tweets that capture some of the other ideas touched on ...

"@johnmcdonnellMP is one of the brightest people I have ever interviewed", says @JonSnowC4 #Polis2016

Although Jon followed that with a comment that made it clear he didn’t rate John’s ideas

"I'm not allowed to declare my opinion on Europe but I can say at least that I generally like working together" - @jonsnowC4 #Polis2016

.@jonsnowC4 wonders why we aren't being more optimistic Europe? Nobody is campaigning to try and make it better #Polis2016

"Westminster is unfit for purpose. That's not even a controversial thing to say. It's a fact." @jonsnowC4 at #Polis2016

Channel 4 is funded by ads entirely and is owned by everyone, and is free. Won't be privatised, @jonsnowC4 feels #polis2016

US congress wrecked @POTUS attempts at civilising the USA @jonsnowC4 @PolisLSE #Polis2016

Stop worrying about Trump and start worrying about Ted Cruz, says @jonsnowC4: "Guns and gods - it's not good for the planet!" #Polis2016

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