Communicating Complexity speaker series

Join us for the Global Journalism Innovation Lab’s spring speaker series
Webinars on April 21, April 28 and May 12, 2022. 

From the invasion of Ukraine to the COVID-19 pandemic to the climate emergency, the world is facing critical global challenges. Journalism, public discourse and policy dialogues based upon evidence-based news and information are essential to tackling these issues. At a time of shrinking newsrooms and declines in revenue, there is a pressing need for journalists to be able to communicate complexity to diverse audiences in accessible and engaging ways.

To address some of the most urgent questions facing contemporary journalism, the Global Journalism Innovation Lab is pleased to present a Spring Speaker Series bringing together leading journalists and scholars. Featured speakers are:

  • Richard Black, former long-time BBC environmental correspondent and author of Denied: The Rise and Fall of Climate Contrarianism.
  • Jabulani Sikhakhane, The Conversation Africa editor and previously journalist, columnist and editor on South Africa’s leading business and finance publications.
  • Yasmin Jiwani, PhD, Concordia University Research Chair in Intersectionality, Violence & Resistance and author of Discourses of Denial: Mediations of Race, Gender & Violence.

Hosted by research partners at the University of British Columbia, University of Ottawa, Queensland University of Technology, and The Creative School Catalyst at Ryerson University*, this three-part series will consider how explanatory journalism can continue to fulfill its essential public role in the 21st century.

Part 1 – Always Necessary, Never Sufficient: Explanatory journalism and the climate emergency

When: April 21 at 12pm EST
Who: Richard Black, former long-time BBC environmental correspondent and author of Denied: The Rise and Fall of Climate Contrarianism
Host: Dr. Elizabeth Dubois, University of Ottawa
What: Information on the global environmental crisis has never been more abundant. And journalists have never had so many ways available to present information. So why are carbon emissions still rising, pollution still spreading and the sixth great extinction still underway? In the first instalment of the Global Journalism Innovation Lab’s Spring Speaker Series, Richard Black considers how explanatory journalism can help make sense of the climate emergency. 

Part 2 – Enabling Citizens to Navigate the World Around Them

When: April 28 at 9am EST
Who: Jabulani Sikhakhane, Editor of the Conversation Africa and previously journalist, columnist and editor on South Africa’s leading business and finance publications 
Host: Dr. Michelle Riedlinger, Queensland University of Technology
What: Great journalism has been likened to modern cartography because it creates maps that enable citizens to navigate the world around them. And the world around us has become complex – whether one looks at the economy, politics, or technology. One element of great journalism is explanatory journalism which can promote a better understanding of current affairs and complex subjects, and, hopefully, contribute to a more informed public discourse and conversation. In this second installment of the Spring Speaker Series, Jabulani Sikhakhane draws on his experiences at The Conversation Africa, as well as many years as a columnist, writing on business and economy, including explaining these subjects in isiZulu, one of South Africa’s indigenous languages.

Part 3 – Writing the Unpopular: Contesting journalistic objectivity

When: May 12 at 12pm EST
Who: Dr. Yasmin Jiwani, Concordia Research Chair on Intersectionality, Violence and Resistance and author of Discourses of Denial: Meditations of Race, Gender and Violence
Host: Dr. Mary Lynn Young, University of British Columbia
What: We are living in a particular conjuncture at this moment in history. It is a time of crisis, unlike other crises that we have witnessed before. This is when journalism’s role is most crucial, especially in terms of its acknowledged mandate to report and to hold those in power accountable. In part three of the spring speaker series, Dr. Yasmin Jiwani considers what it means to write the unpopular, which could also easily translate into tweeting the unpopular or recording the unpopular. Confronting the colonial mentality at the root of most Western journalists’ accounts of stories about others and about themselves, Jiwani asks: how can we write stories that don’t resonate with a presumed common stock of knowledge? And what are the implications of the resulting cognitive dissonance when writing the unpopular? By questioning one of the ‘god’ terms of journalism, the myth of objectivity, she asks: whose side are you on as a journalist?

The Global Journalism Innovation Lab researches new approaches to journalism. Research teams in Canada and Australia are looking at how new revenue models, new policy frameworks, and new modes of audience engagement can ensure evidence-based journalism maintains its place as a pillar of public discourse and social change.

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