Inclusion Insight

“News for All” – Week Note 3

I’ve been on holiday which a) accounts for a gap between week notes and b) means I found it really difficult to prioritise one thing which I wanted to talk about, because I’ve been thinking about a lot of different aspects of the work over the last month or so.

But the beauty of week notes is that there are no rules. I don’t have to do a carefully constructed essay every 7 days, and arguably that wouldn’t be helpful anyway. So this week, with all those thoughts buzzing around, my “Top 5 things I’ve learnt this week” feels like the best way to capture what’s crystallising for me.

  • While there is clearly lots of incredible, brave, valuable journalism coming out of the Middle East, there have been a number of high profile and inexcusable failures. My friend John Burn-Murdoch wrote this characteristically clear and insightful thread on X/twitter which explains many of the reasons behind those failures. I think there’s also an even bigger “zoom out” question around how the structures of news journalism hugely prioritise certainty and simplicity. It wants to give us clear, definitive answers. The problem is that the world is none of those things. The world is complex and uncertain. Until we accept and embrace that in our storytelling, the failures John describes will keep happening, and will keep making things worse.

 

  • A big part of this week has been working with various groups of people who you might (if you didn’t find it toe-curlingly embarrassing) call “stakeholders”. I now see this as incredibly important, but I didn’t really understand it 4 years ago when I started this work. Naively, I used to think that if you had exciting ideas or presented compelling evidence, then people would immediately respond dropping everything and turning all their energies into putting my dazzling insights into action. It obviously sounds stupid when you write it down, but I’ll put some of that naivety down to my neurodivergence. I’ve had to work really hard on this, but I’m now much better at understanding other people’s contexts and motivations and thinking about how my work can help them meet their needs as well as mine. I now regard this as at least half of my work in this project, because change isn’t easy and so we need to create the right conditions to enable us to collectively navigate that change in a healthy way.

This picture below is us launching “Labs Lunch”, in which we introduced BBC Wales News staff to our project, the participatory research team and the wider work of BBC News Labs.

  • Talking of neurodivergence, when we’re thinking about producing “News for All”, we clearly need to ensure that neurodivergent people can access journalism that works for them. It’s come up several times in conversations this week, and I’m really glad that this project feels to people like somewhere we can explore those questions. It also shows the value of engaging as many people as possible, and making it possible for them to bring and share their own experience. I’d love to hear from you if you have any thoughts or ideas which might help with those explorations.

 

  • In related accessibility and inclusion news – with my Inclusive Journalism Cymru hat on –  we ran an Inclusive Media Development Lab and launched our book, Cymru & I, just before I went on holiday. Those events really reinforced thoughts which have been bubbling up for me over the last couple of months. I recently went to an event on Life-Affirming Organisational Practice, run by the Beyond the Rules group. Now I often find myself in spaces which are very non-diverse and non-inclusive. I have to be in those spaces because often quite important decisions about funding and policy happen, and if I wasn’t there then it’s likely that nobody would address questions of either innovation or inclusion and BAD THINGS WOULD HAPPEN. I’ve largely just put up with it until now, but the Bristol event showed me how things could be different. Because I didn’t constantly have to be “on alert” for BAD THINGS, it meant that I could sit back, let down my guard, be myself and just listen and learn. It was, appropriately, a life-affirming experience. I often go away from the other spaces hating myself for taking up too much space, because I have to intervene often to stop the BAD THINGS. I will not be putting up with that any longer.

 

  • I had the joy of joining a conversation with the inspirational Peter Pula and Angela Fell as part of Axiom News Live this week. As ever, I learnt a lot from them and the conversation also really helped me think about some of my own work in different ways. Things I’ll be exploring further are how so much of the work we’re trying to do is about disrupting pre-existing and/or pre-determined narratives which might serve the aims of a few people who hold power, but definitely DON’T meet the needs of the vast majority of us. We also talked a lot about how journalism can and should inspire agency, but perhaps part of that is letting go of “informing” as a purpose of journalism. Some of the problems I described at the beginning of this week note are caused by journalists (who very often are generalists who don’t understand the nuance of complex situations – and I’m very happy to include myself in that group) thinking it’s our responsibility to “inform”. Could our role be something different though – facilitating, sharing, amplifying…something else? This is a half-formed thought (exactly what Week Notes are for) but I was really struck by Peter’s challenge to us to “let go of informing”. It certainly is a challenge, and challenging but as ever, that doesn’t mean it’s not right.

Has this sparked ideas for you?

Do get in touch if you want to pick up on any of these thoughts.

contact