A global media revolution is changing the face of world politics.
Local incidents, amplified by social media, cable and broadcast news, escalate into global events. New global actors emerge from access to networked technology across multiple platforms. States seek asymmetrical advantages through cyberwarfare. Electoral outcomes are influenced by the flow, control and manipulation of information. Information itself - its source, accuracy and authenticity - is diffused in a post-truth cloud of ‘alternative facts’, ‘fake news’, and ‘filter bubbles’. The world takes on a new precariousness under media-magnified conditions of volatility, uncertainty and entanglement.
The transformative global events at the turn of the century – the end of the Cold War, 9/11 attacks, post-colonial aftershocks in the Middle East, Africa and Asia and the rise of a new authoritarian populism – all testify to the power of global media. In its multiple and networked forms, global media is no longer a mere conveyor or even catalyst of events; it is a powerful agent in world politics.
The public commons is increasingly in danger of enclosure, even disappearance by parochial, privatised and polarised media. Getting the facts right or invoking some transcendental truth is no longer sufficient to resolve contradictory stories. Disproving a lie is a start, but it is no substitute for creating a counter-narrative. It falls upon the University, as a relatively independent global institution, to take up the challenge, to inform the public and to engage the experts through global media.
Theoretical analysis and policy options coming out of universities are usually too little and too late to have much external impact. There is an urgent need not only to understand media, but also to create engaged media for the public benefit in a timely manner. Our goal is to create global interest media that will generate knowledge, assess risk, recommend ethical responses and increase public awareness of the most pressing issues of peace and security.
The strategy of the new Global Media Project is two-staged. The first is to create a Global Media Lab at the University of Sydney that will research, teach, produce and distribute global-interest media. The Global Media Lab will serve as a hub for the second stage: to create, coordinate and raise external funds for an inter-university Global Media Network.
The Global Media Lab aims are to:
The strategy and structure of the project will be transdisciplinary, transmedia and transnational. Combining historical research, critical inquiry and documentary production, the Lab will operate in networked universities to bridge not only gaps between academic and policy worlds, but also across national, cultural, intellectual, gender and professional divides. The Lab and project will be innovative structures, scaling up or down to match research tasks, production needs and funding opportunities.