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Auspicious Journalism

Some notes and ideas for a meeting with Bridget McKenzie on 7th May 2019


Two Main Aims

1) What would it take to establish an ecofeminist culture on Woman's Hour?
2) How might we devise & deliver workshops to help journalists become co-creative parts of the process?

Ecofeminist Starters

  1. Rachel Carson - early pioneer in noticing how industrial communities are poisoning habitats including their own.
  2. Donella Meadows - co-pioneer (with her father --) in the original 'Limits to Growth' publication
      • Meadows, D., Randers, J. & Meadows, D.,2004. Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update
    • She also (used systems theory to) created a list of 12 'levers for change' that are pivotal to states of emergency that require us to use the most effective levers. She pointed out that they invariably use the least effective levers for change (e.g. secondary methods, such as targets / fines / financial incentives).
      • Meadows, D., 2008. Thinking in Systems: A Primer
  3. Lynn Margulis - co-inventor of the Gaia Hypothesis
  4. Vandana Shiva -
  5. Julia Steinberger on IPCC committee

Journalism For Our Extinction Emergency

  1. On 6th May, front page headlines were news of a Royal baby, despite UN's announcement of possible end of Homo sapiens (via losses of 1 million species etc). This was covered as front page news on only 2 papers (Guardian + Independent). After t was covered on following day's Metro with a below page article on Page 7.
    • Manipulation of news by vested interests could be the most important issue that keeps us on course for our own extinction.
    • A subsidiary issue is the culture and presentation habits of journalists.
    • Cliche of popular journalism - sensationalism that is bad news (i.e. gossip and human story=bad news, but not THAT bad).
  2. Ideally, we need to develop more auspicious forms of reasoning that will deliver a more collective, imaginative, incentivizing and outcome-centred mode of reasoning that will support new, co-creative forms of democracy.
    • E.g. possitopianism - asking what is possible (means daring to think that listeners might want the full truth, rather than a juicy twist on their (supposed) prejudiced expectations.
    • Attainable Utopias launched 2001 because of disappointment over the apparent lack of vision for 21st century.
    • My book 2007 Design for Micro Utopias (making the unthinkable possible) reminded people that, although your can't reach Utopia in the philosophical sense, it is wise to embark on the journey.
    • Style of some interviewers seem schooled in the inflexible logic of rigour, or in the combative, pugilistic metaphor ofdebate, in which we expect a machoistic 'winner versus loser' logic, rather than the best way to find better answers. (E.g. interrupters, John Humphreys and Jeremy Paxman)
    • Question framing is central to good journalism.
    • Answer-seeking questions (e.g. "what is the time?") are quasi-scientific in that they purport to be truth-seeking. However, answers are only partially useful in an emergency because they may be peripheral to making key decisions and strategies for sensible action. Many journalistic questions are rhetorical questions that lead the conversation into areas of controversy, rather than framing genuine inquiry (e.g. "Is climate change a hoax?" / "Can we be sure that your analysis is correct?")
    • Outcome-seeking questions (e.g. "how can we do X...?") are more positive, because they cannot logically be answered with a negative (e.g. "No" / "I disagree" / "Are you sure you are correct?" / "That's too ambitious")

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