Contextualising Media

I happened to stumble upon a re-run of one of the ABC’s “Big Ideas” programs last weekend. Similar to the range of materials available via TED (look it up if you haven’t heard of it and you’ll be addicted too!) I love many of the ideas, philosophies and challenges that are presented.

I have tried to locate a copy of the talk I heard last week but to no avail! As it was a re-run, I didn’t catch the original broadcast date and I was not clever enough to write down the speaker’s name – if it helps he is an American ‘HE’ and his first name is ‘Dr.’ ! You get the picture?

Anyway, his argument was that media (print and non-print) are failing to contextualise media coverage; instead of presenting the ‘big picture’ they tended to offer only the latest ‘update’. I couldn’t agree more! It becomes very obvious, when you discuss with older students any of the Social Sciences, that there is a distinct lack of connection with cause/effect and a limited knowledge of history, political construction and geographical historical contexts that are essential to our ‘reading’ of news.

  • What has just happened in Egypt? Why did it happen? What ’caused it’?
  • What is a ‘hung’ parliament? How does OUR political system actually work? What are the implications?
  • What is the GEC (Global Economic Crisis)? What caused it? What are the implications for us?
  • Asylum Seekers?

I read/view widely so these areas do not produce ‘gaps and silences’ for me personally (though of course none of us know the things we DON’T know that we don’t know… hope you followed that – it is profound) but don’t the media have a responsibility to pause and remind us of how the ‘daily update’ fits into the wider context? I would love to see a 30 minute documentary that summarised our political system and its origins or a brief 60 second overview of the history of an event before we hear the latest.

Are we connecting our younger ‘news’ readers with the contexts we know so intimately? Our current 14 year olds were 4 years old on September 11, 2001! Don’t they have the right to ask… “Why are we in Afghanistan?”. If I gave them a blank map of the world, would they even know where Afghanistan was? Come on News professionals – help us all out here.

“Dr. He” definately thinks we’d all benefit!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s