Eksperimenta! interviews the media expert Ahti Kaskpeit.
Eksperimenta! wishes to encourage critical and creative thinking in the society through the integration of contemporary art and education. Today, in the “post-truth era”, source critique has become an essential survival skill: you have to be constantly alert to differentiate true news from their extremely “creative” interpretations, not to mention from malevolent fake news…
What are the observations of a media expert: to which extent can we trust journalism and social media these days?
Indeed, we are living in an era where everyone is able to announce their message to large audiences, be it a kitten photo, an opinion, or a news piece. Basically every person using the internet can be a media company of their own. As the creation and publication of information has become so easy, part of it may inevitably be biased or downright false. Although it is wise not to trust everything we read from the news, we shouldn’t conclude from this that we shouldn’t believe anything at all. The golden middle way means being reasonably careful while maintaining an open attitude. I would like to highlight five guiding aspects that we also teach our clients in Meedius. Here are some pieces of advice that can help us test the words we hear and read.
- DISTRIBUTOR. Is the person or organisation distributing the news trustworthy and reliable? What kind of reputation does the broadcast or publication have: does it provide serious information or tabloid news? Who finances that news channel?
- SOURCES. Can you detect that thorough research has been made? Is the story based on only one source? Are the sources reliable, honest and unbiased? Do they represent different perspectives or are they selected to only support one position?
- OBJECTIVE. Think about whether the main purpose of the news piece is to inform or entertain you? Is it used to sell something to you or support some idea?
- TONE. When the tone of the news piece is irritated, furious or extremely critical, this indicates that these are attacks rather than well-considered claims.
- CONSISTENCY. Are the presented facts consistent with the facts in other articles and news pieces? Inconsistency of the news stories gives a reason to be cautious.
- TIMELINESS. Is the information fresh enough? What was considered right 20 years ago may be discarded by now. On the other hand, if it is breaking news, the provided information may be incomplete and one-sided.
* Meedius has supported Eksperimenta! for three times already. We are very grateful! How does supporting a youth art project help you increase your market share?
Information and knowledge have become commodities. You have access to all sorts of information these days, in a very short period of time. But does it make you a smart and creative person? Surely not! Just like Eksperimenta!, our business area too values creativity. In fact, we should be able to ask the right questions. And this requires creativity.
* May I ask a more personal question to end this interview? I know that social media is your passion. How did you arrive at a job that didn’t even exist when you made your career choices before graduating from high school?
I have been working for Meedius for over 12 years. When I started, our tools included scissors, glue, envelopes, video cassettes and CDs. Since that time, our team has turned Meedius into a fully digitalised organisation. However, important changes are waiting ahead again. The role of newspapers, radio and television in people’s lives is drastically changing and social media is the new information and entertainment channel. I have four daughters in different ages and they show me how media consumption changes. However, it is a fascinating change and I am very excited and positive about the future.
Reproduction: Ahti Kaskpeit, photo: Ave-Liis Schmidt