For me that’s a very important concept. What we’re trying to get at with that is that you come to your life as citizen with a sense of wonder, with a sense that ‘I’d like to learn more. I don’t know the answers and my preconceptions are only hypotheses of what the real answer might be.’ And that requires both the humility to think I might be wrong and an open-mindedness to say people who I think I disagree with might have something I can learn from …
There’s an element of that that can be very helpful for journalists to internalize as well. Humility seems to be something in general that perhaps we can benefit from on a larger scale.
That was the genius of Homer Bigart, who had been a reporter who’d covered everything; he was the most experienced reporter in Vietnam, but he acted as if he knew the least. That’s what we called his “portable ignorance.” He would say ‘Hmmm, interesting, prove that to me. Can you do that?’ Which also involves being wiling to look stupid
It reminds me of Jay Rosen’s talk of ’the church of the savvy.’ There seems to be something about us in the press—particularly the political press—where you always to show that you know what’s going on, that you’re in and you have the scoop. Admitting that you don’t know about something is almost admitting to a weakness in front of your fellow journalists.
Right. Whereas it can be the most powerful and liberating way of doing this, of going about this
I think that ultimately this book as I imagine it—and I hope it comes across—this book is fundamentally optimistic. As we say in the last chapter, and in the epilogue, we think we have the potential and the capacity for a far superior journalism in this more open system than we ever had with the old
Out of the confusion that may feel is the opportunity for a much superior way of learning in which journalism is almost continually improved by an audience that is able to push back against it. But we have to be realistic; we can’t assume that the crowd pushing back is necessarily informed. This new open system creates responsibilities both for citizens and for those who report the news—and that’s what we’re trying to identify: What are the skills that these sides now need.
Because it’s great to be empowered, but what are you going to do with this?
Correction of the Week
“IN Saturday’s Evening Post we printed a photograph of a man in connection with a court case involving a disturbance after the Swansea V Cardiff football match on November 7 last year. The caption stated that the man pictured was Kevin Richards, one of the defendants. This was in fact incorrect. The man pictured was Mark Owens who was not connected in any way to the court case. We apologise for the error.” - South Wales Evening Post