This post is cross posted from medium.com. You can access the original here.
This week marks the one year anniversary of our international conference: Is No Local News Bad News: Local Journalism and Its Future which was sponsored by SSHRC and the Ryerson Journalism Research Centre and held at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. This groundbreaking conference brought together an interdisciplinary and international group of scholars, journalists and media entrepreneurs to discuss the importance of local news to communities, the current state of local news around the world, the role of technology in local news, and what the future of local news could look like.
We see it all across North America and the UK: small local news outlets are shutting down, or are bought out and amalgamated into much larger regional or national outlets. At first this doesn’t seem to be of much consequence. If local news outlets do not make money, perhaps the laws of the marketplace should dictate their demise. And without them, we can perhaps still share the information that is important to our communities using social media platforms like Facebook, Google and Twitter, right?
Well maybe the local news situation is actually more complex than we might first think. Maybe there is some information that simply isn’t provided when local news outlets shut down. And maybe social media isn’t picking the slack in all cases, but rather exacerbating the problem. Well I, in partnership with a team of ace researchers from the Ryerson Journalism Research Centre wanted to find out the answers to these questions, so last year, we invited academics around the world to participate in a conference on the subject of local news and it’s future. Then we took the best submitted papers from that conference, along with some student journalism on the subject of Canadian local news, and we put together an interactive online publication: The Future of Local News: Research and Reflections.
Recently, Dr. Ann Dale, researcher Brigitte Petersen and I conducted a study in which we looked at the hashtag community formed by people who post using the tag #ClimateChange on Instagram. We wanted to see whether this community showed evidence of the potential for community agency, that is to say, do the posts related to this hashtag seem like content that could, under the right circumstances, inspire community action around the issue of global warming?
Every day we read headlines about the pending new industrial revolution. Robots will replace most blue collar workers, and soon AI threatens many stable white collar jobs in fields such as accounting, law, or even teaching. While this revolution still has of yet to come to pass, and while AI still requires further development before it is ready to replace human knowledge workers, it is becoming evident that the workforce is at least changing, and thus we must also adapt, to thrive in the coming economic environment. In a world where information is available at the touch of a smartphone button, specific knowledge or skills are becoming less relevant, and instead we all need a range of traits, or behaviors that will allow us to work with new technologies and each other while the world changes around us. Soft skills are becoming more important than ever. But drilling down, specific soft skills will be much more valuable than others in an increasingly digitized and technologized economy. In this post, I’ll discuss 4 important soft skills that will help people to survive, and even thrive in the new (and future economy) no matter what other specific knowledge is required. They are: adaptability, networking, resilience, and lifelong learning. I’ll address each of these in turn, along with some advice on how one might build these skills. Continue reading “How to Survive in the New (Future) Economy”→
Last week I mentioned that I would write a post discussing the gaps I see in current descriptions of digital literacy, particularly as it’s described in the popular press, and why a more holistic or even interdisciplinary understanding of digital literacy is needed. Well I’m back this week to continue that discussion. We must move beyond the idea that digital literacy is about teaching people how to create a website or learn to code. We need to recognize that a skills based approach to digital literacy will only serve to exacerbate certain social and democratic challenges inherent in digital communication, and we must instead consider digital literacy as something that stretches far beyond equipping students for jobs that may or may not exist in the ever-fickle digital economy. The best example, I think ,of why this is the case is the current problem of “fake news”.