There is need for authentic stories driven by data


We have a real opportunity to leverage technology to create and package information. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Humans are hardwired to seek out information. Information has been key to our survival as a species, helping drive decision-making and innovation from time immemorial. However, in the ancient past when the foundation of civilisation as we know it was laid, the speed of its collection, verification, and transmission was arguably quite slow. With the advent of electricity, onward to the invention of the radio, television and the internet, things have changed dramatically.

We all exist in our little bubbles, the context of country, identity and even neighbourliness highly abstracted as we increasingly live out our lives hooked on digital drips that infuse social constructs that at an individual level are perceived to apply to the whole. Within these echo chambers, everyone becomes an expert, reinforced by the constant flow of affirmation and agreeability of others. The result is that we are deeply fragmented in the understanding of matters that affect us as a collective and are unfortunately unable to coalesce toward any effective action especially on matters of national importance.

That we have a good understanding of how these social formations work and their possible negative contributions to the larger society, I find it curious that we are not working towards using the same forces for good. We have a real opportunity to leverage technology to create and package information, building distribution rails that will reach and pierce into our bubbled existence.

The foundation of this agenda is data-driven storytelling, where we are deliberate about the process from which an opinion is fronted and the topic bouquets made available. Trust is a currency here, and where incumbents are often seen as biased, owing to shareholder affiliations, the opportunity for a new entrant or different unencumbered brand to lead this charge has never been more apparent.

Understandably, media outfits need to be run like proper businesses with eyes on the bottom line, but I believe there exists an inherent calling to do good and add value. Balanced opinions, verified facts and guided commentary within engaged communities, even in their ‘siloed’ existence, are achievable metrics.

It does take resources to get started but I bet that at the close of this decade, the market leaders in the media segment will be those who have figured out how to have a seat at every table holding the position of a trusted oracle and knowledge purveyor.