Why am I building this newsroom?

“Do you want the real definition of success? The best definition of success is time — the time to do your work.” Jerry Saltz 1

In the movie The Square (Ruben Östlund, 2017), there is a scene where the protagonist Christian, the chief curator of the Stockholm’s Museum of Modern Art, discusses with the team of the advertising company the strategy of promotion for the next exhibition of the museum with the homonymous title “The Square”. The executive of the company, watching Christian dissatisfied with the tactics proposed by his two young associates (fig.1,2), reassures him by telling him to show confidence in the skills of his employees because “they have grown up in the arena of high speed”. The meeting ends with the two millenials of the creative team saying: “Let’s just hope that on the day that the commercial will be released, there will be no terrorist attack”.

Εικ. 1, 2. The meeting scene. Above, the owner of the advertising company sits next to Christian and idicusses propels whilst holding in his arms his baby. Down: The two employees of the creative explain their original ideas. © The Square, Ruben Östlund, 2017, Magnolia Pictures

Swedish director Ruben Östlund turns the arrows of his irony not only against the world of contemporary art — as film critics wrote when the film was released in the cinema theatres — but he also ostensibly parodies the media and the way journalism works today. We have noticed that in the digital age, information has changed dramatically: a story is no longer measured by its validity and reliability; its success depends on the number of “likes” and “shares”. Publishers stressed by competition, sacrifice with great ease the quality of the content. Thus, the glamor of journalism has been lost on the altar of profit. 2

But there is something else we should take into consideration: the area of ​​the published articles in news-sites have grown disproportionately compared to the traditional front pages of newspapers. If you scroll down to the homepage of a news site you will see countless news items, classified into many different categories. In order to fill all these “boxes” with content, some people have to work hard day and night. Therefore journalists working time is significantly reduced. And when an event occurs, it should be covered immediately by the media, leaving no room for substantial investigation.

In the age of non-stop communication and fast information, the internet media machine is becoming greedy: you have to constantly “feed” it with new data. The journalist is thus transformed into a text-production factory outlet; in order to survive, he or she can no longer have the look of an intellectual. Adapting to the technological developments the reporter has to judge quickly, report on the go, type quickly and creates news at a dizzying pace.

Acceleration is now the thing. But how fast is the human brain? Is it a matter of generation? So if you were born “in the arena of high speed”, do you perform better?

What happens on the part of the recipient?

Other pathogens appear in our digital culture. Due to the large alternation of images and data, there is a discontinuity in human perception. A person now finds it very difficult to concentrate; he learns to scan everything with his eye. New media have been linked to the concept of progress, but to what extent do we “progress” when we give up reading?

At the end of the film, the two young people of the advertising company create a TV commercial that shows a homeless girl crying loudly in the “Square” (within the framework of art), and then explodes like a jihadist (fig. 3 ). The video goes viral, but the museum director is forced to resign as he is criticized largely by the media.

Fig. 3. A moment from the commercial. The little girl, cuddling a kitten, seconds before it explodes. The film was awarded the Golden Palm in 2017 in Cannes. © The Square, Ruben Estlund, 2017, Magnolia Pictures

It is now clear that communication takes place in terms of aesthetics – everything turns into a spectacle. The subjects of news always revolves around fires, accidents, disasters. So the following questions arise: Why should one be prepared for emergencies? What about these constant shocks?

We have reached a time when we humans are constantly bombarded with stimuli, living a tech panic. French philosopher Paul Virilio likens overload information to a modern form of terrorism. When the citizens are in diffusion, at the mercy of the communication chaos, their relationship with reality is no longer balanced. Therefore, the issue is not only about the theory of communication, but mainly a political matter. Virilio, who died in 2019, emphasises in his book “Pure War”: “That is why I say that we will either cooperate with this situation or we will resist. The problem with cooperation is that you do not know that you are cooperating, while when you resist you know it. “Resistance means choice.” 

Therefore, I choose to resist.

Five more reason why I am creating this newsroom:

  1. Because I’m slow. As a single mother with two minor children, I could not work faster. But this does not mean that women like me should be excluded from the workplace and from the public sphere. I think their voices must be heard more and louder.
  2. Because I do not like the way the mainstream media works today; the information function is largely determined by partisanship. Also, many journalists become subordinates of advertising companies and public relations offices. Journalism must be independent of money and power; it is a function. Journalism it is one of the main pillars of democracy; it exists to help the weakest. So “The Turtle” is a case of ethics for me.
  3. Because I “shield” myself and my readers against political arbitrariness. The real animal uses its bony thorax as a shield. Defense does not necessarily mean fear, it can also be a good strategy, like the military formation of the ancient Roman legion.
  4. Apart from being a journalist, I am a documentary filmmaker and digital artist. Nowadays, is not enough for a professional in the field of communication to have only good writing skills. He or she must be a keen observer of the mechanism of image production and closely monitor how this mechanism contributes to the production of consciousness and political history.
  5. Because I am Greek-Australian. With this website I want to build a bridge between Greece and Australia. Greece symbolises my mother, and Australia my father. However, the reasons why I proceed with this “construction” are not emotional. This newsroom starts from a much more urgent matters and socio-political issues, such as the concept of the South, interactivity, communication and speed, the spatial distance between the two specific countries, the time difference that coincidentally coincides with the 8 hour of labor, colonialism, exile, bilingualism, identity, topopolitics and geopolitics, displacement and dispersion. But there is something much deeper in this project: Down there, in the Terra Australis Incognita, we come upon the culture of the Aboriginals, which is the oldest on Earth, but also this “cursed” desert, which for some has ontological dimensions and symbolises the House of Man.

The above text was based on an academic study prepared during the postgraduate program “Digital Art Forms” of the School of Fine Arts (2018-2020). The complete bibliography is listed in the my essays submitted to the Greek university. Specifically: 1. “Time and Speed ​​in the Media” (“Theory and Aesthetics of the Media I”, teacher Dionysis Kavvathas, A’ Semester, 2018-2019), 2. “Communication and Dispersion” (“Theory and Aesthetics of Media III, Dionysis Kavvathas, 3rd Semester, 2019-2020) 3. “The Turtle: The birth of a new apparatus” (“Interaction and Physical Computing II, teacher Floros Angelos, 2nd Semester, 2019) 4.” Television of Diaspora TV “(” Interaction and Physical Computing III “, Floros Angelos, 2019-2020).

The accompanying video is part of the work The Symphony of Broken Memories by the Greek-Polish artist George Lazaridis (2019).
  1. “How to Be an Artist”, Vulture, Nov. 27, 2018  https://www.vulture.com/2018/11/jerry-saltz-how-to-be-an-artist.html
  2. “What declines in the age of technical reproduction of the work of art is its glory”: Benjamin, Walter, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (1935)

Last updated on 01/12/2021