I’m just back from a Tortoise ThinkIn. If you don’t know what that is, I didn’t either until this evening, and I’m still not sure I quite get it. According to this, it’s about building a different kind of newsroom. There are events, called ThinkIns, in which people can discuss a specific topic, which then – as I understand it – determine future news items. It’s meant to be slow news; they take time to see the fuller picture, to make sense of the forces shaping our future, to investigate what’s unseen.
The topic of the event I went to was [w]hat can this generation do about global warming? There was a panel, that included someone from the Green party, someone from Greenpeace, an engineer, and – I think – one of the editors from Tortoise.
Even though there was a panel, they’re mainly meant to guide the discussion, rather than dominate the discussion. The audience is meant to participate and they’re not meant to ask questions; they’re meant to express their views about the topic. On the screen behind the panel is the tortoise logo that moves from left to right. When it gets to the right-hand side, the discussion is meant to wrap up.
The event I went to was okay, but – as is probably usual – the discussion was dominated by a few, quite vocal, people. Nobody said anything that I really disagreed with, but noone said anything particularly enlightening. I left feeling rather underwhelmed.
It also turns out that the business model is that people become members of the organisation, which entitles them to attend a number of these ThinkIns, access to a slow news feed, editorial briefing emails, and a quarterly printed copy of the journal. Although I realise that we do need to find a way to properly fund the news media, this seemed rather expensive. I realise, though, that there is merit to thinking about innovative, new media outlets and also how the public might engage with the media. I’m not convinced, though, that this is it. What do I know, though, I just write a blog 🙂 . Maybe others have had better experiences than I had.