Grassroots Video and Thought Development

I think that everyone can agree that grassroots is very liberating for collections of people that before did not have a voice. The easy access to technology and the internet allow people from all locations to record their ideas, thoughts, opinions about anything from any place. As Barb says on her post “we are increasingly experiencing a shift from researcher or individual control to shared control, where the audience, spectator, participant or community at large has significant influence and voice on the impact of narrative…” (Brown, 2009).

Walter Cronkite’s death this past week brings forward some interesting questions about the community having influence of narrative. Cronkite was the man who told the US that John Kennedy had been killed. This was such a seminal moment that even I have seen that video multiple times and I am Canadian and was born 11 years after it happened.

But that is exactly my point. With everyone learning this news from the same source it was a shared experience.

Imagine if Kennedy had died during the time of grassroots video. Would the moment have been as powerful at the time or even historically?

I wonder if we can use Michael Jackson’s death as a comparison? It was as sudden and unexpected. Both individuals were cultural icons. Yes, Jackson’s death spurred a sudden retrospective of his best work, yet the country didn’t stop like it did with Kennedy and I don’t think it will resonate historically. Is this becuase news was fractured coming from multiple media sources? I would argue yes.

What I worry about is what happens to our community (not our class’ but city’s or country’s) conversation when media is so fractured. When there is no common dialogue how do we get different groups to communicate? Does it create a possibility of Balkanization with different ideological groups nodding in each agreement with their own thoughts while yelling that people that think differently are idiots? Look to our cable media and our governments for a possible answer. 

As teachers how can we fight though this? What can we do in our classrooms or institutions to make sure that our students learn to create their own message, but also learn to listen to competing ideas?

When you figure it out, please let me know.


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