Former Millfield Head Boy Jack Dickens, who now works as the international editor for the Reaction newspaper, joined Millfield Politics Certificate students to give a talk on how we, as a society, think about the coronavirus.
Using his research around testing during the crisis with a particular emphasis on comparing the experience of the UK and Germany, Jack started the discussion by quoting former White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel by saying “You never want a good crisis to go to waste,” Jack spoke on some of the issues faced during the coronavirus crisis and the opportunities that have been presented as a result of it. One of the best quotes from Jack was, “a crisis not only creates uncertainty; it also tests the institutions and ideas that structure our society.”
At the conclusion of his talk, the students launched into a Q&A where some great questions were asked, and some even better answers were given. One student asked if Jack believed there were rising powers in the world to which he answered, “I believe India are going to continue emerging on to the world stage.”
Another question that was asked was: “Do you believe that the integrity of many modern-day journalists is compromised by their political leanings?” Jack’s reply was intriguing. He said that the issue facing many news outlets is more to do with social media. He said “you used to get exposed to lots of different opinions and points of view that were based on fact because there were fact checkers going through each article before it came out in print. Now what you have is a kind of unfiltered, instant news from things like Twitter and Facebook where the algorithms actually reward more extreme content. The more emotive, aggressive and unrestrained you can be then the more hits you will get. The issue is that you get a lot of journalists in the media who are inspired by personality journalism. What I mean by that is their incentive is to create these kinds of viral hits, so they want to get a video of them challenging the PM on the latest scandal because they’ve got a big personal following so that video drives more views. This means that where news used to challenge people’s views and opinions, it now just reinforces them.”