Persist - New Ideas for Journalism in an Age of Distrust

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Aug 13, 2018
by Paul Mihailidis
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Persist - New Ideas for Journalism in an Age of Distrust

Paul Mihailidis, director of the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change, provides an overview of the 12th program and the work produced by participants Persist is a multimedia publication featuring 6 chapters exploring methods to educate, inspire and motivate approaches to journalism that combat a culture of distrust

This article was first published on persist.community, a multimedia publication produced by 2018 participants of the Salzburg Academy of the Media and Global Change. The projects in this publication include new approaches and models for storytelling, conceptual platforms, games, prototypes, and creative materials.

We persist towards. We resist against.

In a ubiquitous media environment, where our technologies ask for more and more of our fleeting attention, it seems challenging to stay committed to an idea, an issue, a moment. Connective technologies have succeeded in disconnect us. They have splintered our communities, polarized our politics, and normalized spectacle in our information feeds. The same online networks that once touted their collaborative potential now provide sensational content to like-minded groups, perpetuate polarizing viewpoints, spread false information, and seed distrust in the very institutions we rely on for functioning civic societies. This distrust has pervaded our media institutions above all others. The core functions of information systems are now under attack, and the weaponization of fake news by political and public leaders has further eroded such trust. Journalists, meanwhile, are losing the trust of communities who find refuge and solace in the validation of information by peers online.

It is within this context that over 75 aspiring journalists, media makers and activists gathered alongside over 35 faculty and visiting scholars to re-imagine journalism. The participants in the 12th Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change convened for 30 master lectures, workshops, and seminars, 5 salons, a screening series, over 40 reading groups, 2 excursions, and over 20 hours of dedicated time to work in self-facilitated groups to build responses to the problem of distrust in our journalism and media institutions.

What emerged from these three weeks is the commitment to a process where passionate people from around the world work intensely to experiment with media models and practices that seed interaction, care, imagination and dialog. In just over 20 hours of dedicated time to creating a digital publication, the 2018 Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change cohort created PERSIST: NEW IDEAS FOR JOURNALISM IN AN AGE OF DISTRUST. The publication features 6 chapters, which offer transmedia narratives that experiment with new approaches to storytelling and journalism that inspire care, community, and meaningful human engagement in an age of digital abundance.

Each of the chapters features multimedia content, from platforms and apps to games, facilitations and prototypes, that collectively ask us to re-insert the “human” in our media systems. Students explored concepts of imagination, culture, and care in their work, and build models that work to bridge divides that exist across cultures, across borders, and across platforms.

The term persist signifies both the effort of the group process that resulted in this publication, and the effort that it will take to combat the culture of distrust within and across our online networks. Persistence is understood in our work as striving to achieve a civic minded standpoint, where we recognize our shared social location, and exercise empathy for others through a collective struggle for meaningful dialog and engagement in the world. We apply persistence to our re-imagining of a journalism ecosystem that is guided by embrace a sincere commitment to bridging gaps between institutions and the communities in which they are embedded; and possess an overarching goal of contributing to the creation of emergent publics possessing the capacity and motivation to ably address the conditions of the day. In this way, we persist towards a better future, and not against intractable obstacles.

Explore the collective work of our 2018 Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change cohort.


Re-Imagining Journalism: News and Storytelling in an Age of Distrust is part of Salzburg Global Seminar’s long running multi-year program Salzburg Academy of Media and Global Change. More information on the session can be found here. You can also follow all the discussions on Twitter and Instagram by following the hashtag #SGSmedia.