Insights from Newsgeist

BARUA YA BARAZA: Insights from Newsgeist 

From the Curator’s Desk

Greetings, friends:

Last weekend, I had the honour of attending my very first Newsgeist, an annual gathering of media practitioners and technologists. This year’s EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) edition was held on the shores of the beautiful Lake Maggiore in northern Italy. It was held in a collaborative ‘un-conference’ format, where the attendees themselves actually decided on the topics of discussion for the weekend.

It was clear that the impact of generative AI like Chat-GPT was top of mind for many of the participants, going by how many sessions were curated around figuring out the impact of this dynamic and fast-evolving technology on journalism. In fact, that same week, OpenAI – the makers of Chat-GPT – announced new features for the platform including the ability to “see” images and have voice conversations with users. 

There was some anxiety expressed in the conversations exploring the dangers of these technologies and especially the speed at which they are evolving. But there was also a more optimistic streak in the conversation, which emphasised proactive strategies over reactive fears – generative AI can be harnessed to solve various challenges in reporting, research, and content delivery. 

Speaking of optimism, one of the standout sessions explored the necessity of infusing hope into our news narratives. Solutions-driven journalism not only offers a respite from the barrage of negativity but also empowers readers with actionable insights.

Another thought-provoking debate revolved around how journalism can augment trust. Is it by taking a stronger stance on issues, thereby showcasing transparency, or is it by sticking strictly to the facts and refraining from opinions? While there wasn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, the discussion underscored the importance of authenticity – this is really the only currency in our  highly curated digital microworlds.

In a lighter yet equally intriguing discussion, the perpetual fascination of some with the Roman Empire was delved into. Is it a reflection of seeking order amidst chaos, a romanticized view of the past, or just an age-old obsession? The jury’s still out on this one.

More than anything, Newsgeist 2023 underscored that generative AI will have us rethinking the traditional paradigms of news creation and dissemination. The challenge lies not just in harnessing this technology, but in understanding its profound implications on our work, careers, and calling.

In the meantime, here’s: 

What We’re Reading:  India’s beach paradise Goa is overrun with digital nomads, published by Rest of World. Goa, one of India’s most popular tourist destinations, has seen an influx of tech workers and digital nomads in recent years. Though the development has been good for business, local Goans complain that prices have risen steeply.

What We’re Watching: The Black Book, Nigerian crime thriller film on Netflix, produced and directed by Editi Effiong. Big accolade – this is the first Nollywood film to claim the number one spot on Netflix worldwide.

What We’re Listening to: Sounds Like a Cult, a podcast about the modern-day “cults” we all follow. Hosts Isa Medina and Amanda Montell analyze a different zeitgeisty group every week to try and answer the big question: This group (for example, Royal Family fans, multi-level marketers, or even marathon running fanatics) sounds like a cult, but is it really? And if so, how bad is it?

As always,

Christine Mungai | Baraza Media Lab

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