[Academic News] John Keane: Post-truth and Digital Communication Revolution

At 3 pm on May 23, 2018, John Keane, an internationally renowned scholar and professor at the University of Sydney, was invited by the Media Development Research Center of Wuhan University to give an academic lecture at the School of Journalism and Communication, the title of his lecture was “On Post-Truth Reflections on Recent Western Debates”.

Professor Keane introduced the origin and development of post-truth. He redefined post-truth from four aspects: first, lies, post-truth is filled with lie by politicians; second, bullshit; third, symbolic buffoonery/distractions, Trump often uses this to divert people's attention from facts; fourth, silence, and he pointed out that silence has become part of communication.

He then used two metaphors to explain the characteristics of post-truth: on the one hand, post-truth is similar to a vaudeville in the twentieth century; on the other hand, similar to the classic Hollywood movieGaslightfor example, it is also politically controlled. According to Professor Keane, truth cannot be a solution to post-truth.

The development of the Internet has led to the emergence of a large number of new news platforms. There are different reports on the same event. This is a very good thing from Professor Keane’s perspective. This means that the current journalism industry should avoid the news reports that “pretend to talk about something objectively” and pay more attention to ensuring the accuracy of details. “We need a new way of news reporting”.

Professor Keane also mentioned the relationship between democracy and post-truth. In his view, the Monitory Democracy contributed to the development of the public sphere, resulting in a coexistence of "uncertainty, suspicion, irony, and modesty". As Wiegandstein said, when people face the truth, they can no longer say "I know" but say "I believe I know", so people can live in a more diverse world. The controversy over the "truth" has greatly affected democracy. People's anxiety about the "post-truth" is also the anxiety of the doubt that whether there is still a future for democracy. In this regard, Professor Keane said that democracy, like truth, changes with space and time. He advocated the establishment of a geography and history of truth and democracy.

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