In this digital age, we can find information about anything. That’s what we keep hearing, right. But is this massive access to information also leading to more knowledge and understanding?
I can easily answer that question with a no. We know this, it has been said before, all this information might actually be an overload. There is too much to find, too much to process, and when it comes to really complex issues, all that text and documentation on the web will not make you really get it. After searching the web and clicking page through page, you might even be more confused than when you started your quest on Google. The key to get from information to understanding might lie in new ways to explain those complicated issues.
Take the financial world, banking, the crisis. It is still trending topic, and even though we started hearing more on it since 2008, half of the time there is still a bunch of crap that I just don’t get. And with me, probably many others. According to Joris Luyendijk, the finance world affects everyone, but we know and get very little of what it all is really about. For most people, the ‘outsiders’, this is all too much to grasp. Not to think about what the ‘insiders’ might be not telling you.
So, The Guardian and Luyendijk took on an experiment in non-classical journalism. Instead of reporting on the finance world in terms of numbers and figures, understandable for the insiders only, the journalist became the outsider. Luyendijk started a banking blog. He did not report as the all-knowing journalist, the expert, pretending to understand. He started from zero. Not knowing anything about the financial sector and the world around it, trying to grasp it, by starting to ask the simplest questions. Start learning, and share your learning curve online, that was his idea. A new way to tell the story.
The blog consists mostly of interviews with insiders. The voices of finance. Luyendijk works his way through a bunch of issues, and by asking the basics tries to explain those issues. Whenever he thinks he understands something, he sums it up in an article. But the process in between is also visible on the blog. The internet offers the space and time to show it all. There is no paper, so no limit. No deadline for printing. And opportunity to edit along the way, add, update, comment, debate and discuss. Information sits there, and can wait for their audiences.
For him, it is a new way of doing journalism, adapting to the internet. A way to meet the implications of the information age. Papers shouldn’t just put their print content online. Find a new way to tell stories. Find a subject, learn about it, share it, reflect. Build an ever continuing department store of brain food. “The old model of journalism is broken, but so what? It didn’t really work anyway. The best time is ahead of us”.