Spotlight TEDx Talk: Why journalism needs a revolution

(Photo: Nata Abashidze-Romanovskaya)

Natalia Antelava at TEDxTbilisi (Photo: Nata Abashidze-Romanovskaya)

We should ask more of our news outlets, says reporter Natalia Antelava at TEDxTbilisi. The resident correspondent for BBC in the Caucasus, Central Asia, Middle East, Washington DC, and India believes that contemporary reporting is filled with “noise” — short sound bites and easily digestible 750-word summaries of news events that do not provide a layered picture of real life.

Since the digitization of journalism, journalists are pressured more and more to file constant updates — simplifying and “dumbing down” stories, Antelava says. And supersaturation of outlets, churning out a deluge of news stories, means less time for journalists to go out and conduct research, talk to people, do the job that most of them actually want to be doing, she says. She admits that she has been that reporter in front of the camera, saying, “Yes, John, the situation here is very, very tense; we fear it might spiral out of control — back to you in London,” filling the news with reporting “noise.”

This is dangerous, Antelava says, because when stories and events are treated as if they happen in a vacuum or are merely fodder for cursory updates, much is lost. In order to get a full picture of an event, readers have to “[cut] out all the articles, [put] them into a scrapbook,” she says, “to have a wider context,” — a task she thinks readers shouldn’t have to do.

Antelava proposes a solution: Journalists make the scrapbooks themselves — create digital collections of related stories in a wider socio-historical context. Her new web platform for covering crises, Coda Story, does exactly this. With a team of international journalists, Coda Story aims to follow stories for extended amounts of time (a maximum of one year), “providing unique depth, continuity and understanding,” Antelava says, by “staying on the story after the spotlight has moved on elsewhere.”

For more, watch Antelava’s whole talk below:

Insight from the TEDx office — why we like this talk:
The speaker articulates one of the many transitions our society faces as technology continues to develop at a rapid pace. Her observations on the room for improvement within journalism and suggestions for bridging the gap between story and reader feel like a refreshingly clear-eyed and healthily skeptical attitude towards technology.

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