Friday, May 25, 2012

The humble football and the future of news media

How wondrous is this round thing I thought, as I pondered what I would say to a class of fifteen year olds about the media.

The humble ball fitted the answer.

We can trace this round thing, documented as football, back to the ancient Greeks, though its conceivable Neanderthals kicked around a round object.

But at some point the modern game emerged. It was rowdy, played by peasants and many attempts were made to ban it. Then on the posh plains of English public schools the apocryphal story emerges of a pupil picking up the ball and running with it.

Modern rugby was born, whilst in the US Princeton Uni students started playing a game called "ballown" and with a little influence from Rugby, American football made its presence felt.

Across the world in no particular order you had an assortment of ball games, Australian Rules; Handball with its rules set by the German Max Heiser and friends; Volleyball, and so on.

Now we haven't even got around to this round ball's smaller siblings and how they're played: cricket, Tennis, snooker, I could be here all day.

The point is certain rules defined the way we interacted with a ball. These may have been played by masses, but then they wanted acceptance universally - within something like the Olympics.

The media is this football and news one of the universal games. Everyone knows, or thinks they do, but just as Rugby or American Football was being devised, so fresh iterations from news are emerging.

Now news must not be confused with reality as this diagram below shows. If reality represents that out there that in consciousness we can experience, then news is a construct within that.

Another popular supposedly polar opposite construct is cinema. That too lives in reality yet unlike news is thought of being non-fiction.

What's happening in the world today is these definitions that fixed what we knew are being erroded or to be precise diffused. In effect society is evolving. We want a new game beyond football. In essence that's what Postmodernism and Jean Francois Lyotard's essay is about.

So Logos that in ancient Greek and academia stands for "to tell", or speak, such as in opinions in say blogs and personalised films is also finding itself overlapping amongst classical news to represent something news worthy that I will call something else...

Firstly, a slight detour. Now the classical news construct works like this. The reporter on the right has a story she needs to corroborate or to find. She speaks to the man on the right and writes some notes,

Full length people silhouette outlines

 She then speaks to another man, supposedly with a contradictory view in the hope of achieving balance or objectivity or the same view to reify her point of view.

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Then for good measure a third person is interviewed, often an expert who sheds light on the issue from a non-partison point of view.

The construct is completed. How the reporter puts it together is entirely her doing.

She'll probably monitor what others are doing, or publish on the strength the story adheres to a number of features and an Aristolean quality of beginning, middle and end.

Full length people silhouette outlines

So back to that something else...

That thing that now combines what was once news and your logos is "capital". I quite likes this word for two reasons. I came across it being used as slang, and then from a period film used in the context of "good", "wicked", "cool".

But also that Capital as in social capital, monetary capital is something of value and things that have value are often rmemorable, news programmes are not!

So what does this all mean and what has it got to do with football?

That chiefly words by themselves are fixed, but society moves on and in so doing either moves a word on or revises it to something new. Not content with the game of football, all sorts of other games emerged, such as Rugby, but football still exists.

Similarly news will exist but the impact of digital and technology is questioning how we participate, handle or devise new ways for dealing with this classical construct.

But to devise a new something we need to be able to substantially defend it, and that's would take a while here, but that's what I do on  so why not take a peak on

David Dunkley Gyimah has worked in news since 1987 and is a lecturer, artist and award winning content creator and videojournalist completing a doctorate around news.