Ben O'Loughlin has a new column in the Global Policy journal exploring the function of Russia's international broadcaster RT, previously Russia Today:
Incredulity doesn’t kill curiosity; it encourages it. Though distrustful of logical chains of ideas, I loved the polyphony of ideas. As long as you don’t believe in them, the collision of two ideas – both false – can create a pleasing interval, a kind of diabolus in musica. I had no respect for some ideas people were willing to stake their lives on, but two or three ideas that I did not respect might still make a nice melody.
Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum, Vintage: London, p. 95.
Modern politics has always entailed a degree of credulity on the part of policymakers and citizens. We cannot directly experience most political events. We rely on journalism to tell us what is happening, while recognizing those representations are necessarily imperfect. We hope that all journalists try their best, otherwise we cannot be informed and think, vote and act responsibly. In journalists we put our trust and faith. When journalists mislead, intentionally or through error, outrage follows. They have broken the pact. But what happens when a global news organisation promotes incredulity towards journalism and world events? Will audiences succumb to an entirely playful attitude to the truth and see the political ideas and events for beauty they create together rather than their correspondence to reality, akin to the playfulness Italian novelist Umberto Eco suggests? Will Russia’s international broadcaster RT – previously Russia Today – succeed in undercutting the evidentiary basis of political discussion and reduce world affairs to nice melodies that do not take us to events on the ground but that we find curious nevertheless? Or, instead, could RT be dragged into a more mainstream, less radical form of news? Could RT be just another normal media outlet?
Read on here.