In a very timely piece published on openDemocracy today, Charlie Beckett offers some useful insights on "networked journalism" that I think are worth bringing in to this debate. Beckett, of the Polis journalism and society centre at LSE has a book out Supermedia: Saving Journalism So It Can Save The World and argues that new tools of communication and forms of journalism can have a huge impact on the public sphere and democracy itself.
In today's article he writes:
"We are in a world where data is vital to daily and lifetime decision-making for individuals. Interaction and analysis are crucial to community cohesion. Fluid information-flows are the lifeblood of the information-based economies emerging globally and locally. And in a complex world where multifaceted issues such as migration and climate change are both difficult and unavoidable, the media forum and its potential for dialogue and debate about such concerns is vital to a healthy public sphere..."
This addresses many of the concerns expressed by participants such as Mr A from Somalia and Ms B, a community development worker, in our roundtable on media representation of asylum, and offers some ideas for redressing the balance:
"Traditional media has always had power without responsibility. Journalism has resisted being held to account - often rightly, for the news media has to be allowed the independence to prod and provoke. But this means that it can claim no innate moral superiority over the citizen or networked journalist. The established media has been biased, incompetent and greedy for too long to complain now its monopoly has been broken (see Nick Davies, Flat Earth News [Chatto, 2008]). Instead, it should recognise an opportunity to reinvent what is good about journalism."
In Beckett's view, the citizen or networked journalist can work in conjunction with traditional media to bring individual stories and realities to wider public attention, at the same time making the journalist part of a "network of responsibilities".
New media techniques and social media networks may not be a cure-all for the current state of reporting on asylum in the UK, but I think it certainly offers food for thought.
To read the rest of the article, click here.
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