I read a great article today that I needed to write about. I think it’s going to influence the way that I write. It was Adam Curtis – WHAT THE FLUCK! which take a very different view on writing and journalism that really intrigued me. His article is really long, but well worth the read as it is something of a history of two types of journalism in the UK. On the one hand he discusses the rise of Tabloid journalism while on the other hand he discusses the origin of muckraking which helped to unseat the powerful in the 1930’s and helped get FDR elected leading to his trust busting.
Curtis argues that we’re at a similar inflection point in our society as we were at the turn of the 20th century. There have been revelation after revelation and the general public hasn’t figured out how to tie all of this together. I believe that there are a few journalists out there that have been pushing the current power structures and they’ve suffered from this a great deal. Glenn Greenwald and Julian Assange are two that have been the most vocal in challenging our current societal structure.
Aside from the history lesson on journalism the article is important because the author uses something similar to a popular research style in academia called Actor Network Theory. This pushes the actors and the people they interact with to the fore of historic events. It also reduces the importance of a single individual because they act within the constraints of their network. In many cases the most pivotal people are those that build the network to connect individuals in the network. In many of the history of companies books I’ve been reading lately this style is implicit in the writing.
What I took away from this article is that when I write I need to work to ensure including the longer view. Looking back more than just the past few weeks but to include events that precipitated the topics I’m writing about. This will help build credibility for my perspective as well as help convince skeptical readers through a consistent evidence and a broader story to explain the reasoning rather than just a reactionary response to an event.
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