Love and Rockets: towards the independent and democratic future we all need and deserve
In this super-election year, when 4 billion citizens will go to the polls, the threats to our global democracies have never been starker. The challenges of the climate crisis, inequality, and polarisation conjoined with the perils of uncontrolled AI and big tech have created a multi-headed hydra that somehow needs to be wrestled to the ground.
No matter who you are and what your priorities are – human rights, reproductive rights, the climate emergency – the integrity of the information ecosystem is mission-critical. It is a bedrock of any thriving pluralistic democracy from which citizens access narratives, source ideas and comprehend the most significant challenges of our time.
Yet in the last few years, we have witnessed the crumbling of the post-war consensus. Political and corporate interests have captured key digital and broadcast media platforms. Citizens are polarizing into mutually exclusive information and opinion spheres online and then offline. It is an open question whether the very model of Western liberal democracy can survive such a polluted, polarised ‘post-truth’ context.
Given this situation, the Democracy Story Unit, a new project by Doc Society, was launched to examine this central question: What is the role of media in the public interest in restoring trust in our failing democracies?
To help answer this question we have just organised two extraordinary convenings in London and Rio, with our Brazilian cultural partners Peri Productions. We invited our close cousins working in journalism, academia, social sciences, and those working at the intersection of arts and social change, human rights and civil liberties, data and digital rights, economy, law, funding, and beyond.
We analyzed the existing narratives and the ones we need, delved into the role of narrative strategy, and began to envision the new reality we must create together.
As filmmakers, organisations and funders committed to storytelling in the pursuit of a more equal and just world for all, it is time to examine our role in relation to this era of polycrisis. We need to collaborate to think about how to remake an independent information ecosystem that works in society’s interests and explore how media in the public interest can help revitalize public engagement and restore the trust of citizens.
This keynote will reflect on what we have learned so far, share some of the insights of our recent convenings, and send up a rocket towards the future.