Journalism, where people act as transparent mirrors of Truth, where facts and opinions are separate and lying means instant death is perfect for countering falsities. However, it is completely impotent against bullshit. Passive presentation of facts barely make a difference since bullshit is not countering them but seeking to make them irrelevant.
When Modi talks about head transplants in vedic India or when Trump states that Obama is not an American, they are simply disregarding every criteria of Truth. This constant disregard and contradiction either confuses the audience or employs their selective attention to make themselves more appealing. Truth is thus rendered absolutely useless in political discourse.
The work of journalism then, in order to counter this, is not to reveal facts but strategies, patterns and scripts bullshitters are using.
This kind of journalism has to move away from the conception of a reactive audience, obsessed with breaking news, having short attention spans and forgetting events as soon as the debate ends.
This new journalism has to envisage a reflective reader and has to move beyond current events towards a long term analysis.
Most importantly, the new journalism doesn’t need to reveal facts, but expose discourses.
When I speak of discourses, I refer to a very specific definition often used in social science research.
Discourse here means:
1) A mode of organizing knowledge, ideas or experience that is rooted in language and its concrete contexts (as history or institutions).
2) A particular way of talking about and understanding the world or some of its aspects.
In these definitions, the power of language is supposed to be not just descriptive but primarily constructive. We form the world in our minds as we talk about it, which in turn directs our actions. This is specially true for identities. Thus, when Putin is talked of as the strongest leader in the western civilization or Trump says he will make America great again, they are constructing their identities along with a worldview. This process is an interactive and dynamic one. People draw on discourses and produce new ones continuously.
The work of discursive journalism is to mark out the discursive strategies used in a particular context, study its effects and suggest some counter strategies and possibilities of challenging and transforming them.
Only this kind of long term, analytical, research oriented endeavor can hope to defeat post-truth politics and its sudden omnipresence around the world.
This publication is an attempt to construct such a kind of journalism. Over the next few months, we will work on certain projects where we will understand how various agents used various discourses to achieve different effects in a particular event.
Our first project will analyze the demonetization policy undertaken by the Modi government in India in the month of November, 2016. After this we will take up Trump’s presidency and Brexit as our next projects.
If you want to connect with this project or have some suggestions regarding the topics we should look into kindly use this form.