Atul Singh is the Founder, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Fair Observer (fairobserver.com). He teaches Political Economy at the University of California, Berkeley and at the Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar where he also teaches World History.
His lecture is Tuesday, November 29, 6:30pm in CNS 112.
These days the fourth estate is not doing so well. Apathy and ignorance have proved to be tougher enemies than repression and censorship. Shortening attention spans in the era of mobile phones do not help. Nonstop stimulation of the mind via social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat has turned people away from deep explanatory journalism. Besides, the Internet has destroyed the business model of newspapers and there are now five jobs in public relations for every job in journalism. People are also retreating to echo chambers where they only hear what they agree with in an age of increasing social fragmentation.
This retreat to superficiality and insularity is occurring at a time when iPhones are built in China, sneakers are made in Vietnam and software is created in India. With every passing day, the destinies of over 7 billion people are increasingly intertwined. It is no longer enough to know about one’s neighborhood, city or country. One has to be cognizant of what is going on around the world even if one does not understand it. The Islamic State is a classic case in point.
At some point, we will have to rethink and recreate our political systems, economic models and social frameworks in the light of the new challenges we face. We will have to ask critical questions again. We will have to focus on issues that matter, understand context and listen to a plurality of perspectives that cut across borders, backgrounds and beliefs. Eventually, we have to change the way we live as a species if we want to survive. In brief, we are all global citizens and we now have no alternative but to engage in a global discourse. Yet the role of the fourth estate is more critical than ever. The key question is who will play it and how.
Cosponsored by the Roy H. Park School of Communications, the Department of Journalism, and the Honors Program.
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