Friday, September 17, 2010

Self-Delusion, Self-Loathing and Al Jazeera - Part 3

Yesterday I interrupted my Al Jazeera series to get stuck into the heated debate over the Pope's state visit to the UK. Although I know lots of you are still hemorrhaging indignant outcries surrounding said visit, I can only hope these protests give you the peace of mind you are searching for. Now back to business...

My qualms with the recruitment processes of renowned media networks, such as Al Jazeera, BBC, most definitely Sky, the CNN, etc, have recently aligned themselves with my disdain over the manner  of social interaction these broadcast giants exercise. The personable nature - or lack thereof - of said organisations has cast me into a deep funk of late. And not the groovy, James Brown, Chaka Khan, 'dance 'til you feel betta' kinda funk.  

Our emotions are based on our beliefs about the world. Categorisation, cliches, stereotypes and blatant branding of content has consumers conveniently packed into niches for which mass media is now produced (see: Weeds). Obviously, this is not rocket science, we are all bright individuals who are aware of the evils of biased television, la di da. I am sure we are also all aware of the spread of this 'uniform' packaging of information across the internet - enter Google Instant - or more specifically, within social media. 

Then why are we still buying into said uniformity?  

Recently, I came across a TED Talk with computer scientist and author extraordinaire, Jonathan Harris. In his talk, Harris discussed his fascination with human emotion through mediums that have now become more common than personal social interaction, i.e. blogging and microblogging.

As a storyteller, Harris’s infamous ‘We Feel Fine’ and ‘Universe’ projects have helped the Vermonter allow everyday internet users to tell their stories. His ultimate goal? To guide the evolution of the internet into a space we will still have the desire to inhabit in the future. For us to further harbour this desire, Harris claims that this ‘planetary meta-organism’ must honour both the individual and the human collective - just like real life should do. Cue the fountain of incorrigible, regurgitated media headlines. 

A search result from 'We Feel Fine'. I searched emotions in the USA, for the date Pastor Terry Jones made his statement about burning the Qur'an

It often feels like the media addresses its audience as cattle. Headlines are often spewed as if from the same, mind- numbing, socially uniform media machine, inadvertently insulting its audience, with the emotional intelligence to recognise the cookie-cutter formulas plastered on our television screens, day after day.

Not unlike recruiters, that have recently strewn my naively ideal sense of justice across a gravelly road and run over it repetitively with a ten- tonne tractor, the media has forgotten what its purpose is. They are not here only to inform. They are here to instigate, revitalise and educate. Their mission is not complete without an emotion- fueled reaction. 

None of this is possible without emotive communication. THIS is why Al Jazeera should hire me. You may know your news, but I know people. I am one of those people. 


  1. I was just having a discussion on a similar topic last night and could not agree with you more. Media needs more people who understand and connect with people. We have personalized advertising generated for us all the time but can't get the news outlets to jump on board. It wouldnt be too difficult if you had the right people in the right places. You're definitely the right person. Maybe the places you're looking are all wrong? Perhaps you'd be able to influence these moguls by working your magic at a lesser known company. Change the game and force them to play catch up then have them pay you handsomely for your expertise. You never know. I have supreme confidence that your window of opportunity is soon to open. Keep positive :-)

  2. Absolutely fantastic post and a breath of fresh air to read. It reads like a professor wrote it and i could quote 75% of it in an academic piece. (I'd be challenged by the standard panel of over educated mongrels but i'd stand up and yelp like a member of the fox club).

    Neal is completely right, (Neal spelt like Seal but doesn't want a Kiss From A Rose i presume). You are definitely the 'right' person, if that term actually makes any sense but you are hindered by your location and your network, however your network zis growing and your location will change.

    I have supreme confidence as do a lot of people evidently and as soon as you are seen by a few, you will be heard by the masses.

    Your time is coming and if you keep writing articles like this it won't be long before you grab a huge feature.

    Anyway i better get off as im writing in the dark with no glasses on and my head is about to take off from my neck.


  3. Thank u for the comments and support guys. Still trying to chip away at recruiters and networks. Slowly but surely. A real effort needs to be made on their part in terms of feedback though.

  4. I love the way you looked at it, media indeed needs more humans to be, I wonder if you have got the job or not..

    As for AJE, I think they can simply minimize their work forces now after twitter/facebook - they can follow trends and target interested audiences quite easily... Remember their sole objective is to get quickest news along with maximum viewership, you may want to align your personal objectives with theirs and ka boom - you're hired!

  5. Reema, thank you for the comment. I appreciate your comments greatly; I've actually been trying to get involved with the social media campaigns Al Jazeera launched over the last few weeks of protests across the Arab world and I believe if they recognise the power behind a personable voice supporting their cause, they would have even better managed coverage of Bahrain, and now, Libya (and the rest of raging North Africa).

    At the end of the day, the network has, as you said, it's own objective. Although it may be naive, my interest lies deeply within the human conversation and use of social as a tool to understand people and better provide them with their media needs; if AJ appreciates this, I am more than happy to become a part of their team, and would be honoured to do so. However, until then, I doubt they'll be ringing my doorbell any time soon.

    Thank you once again :)