A few years ago I was in Cannes trying to sell some of my documentaries. I remember talking with a buyer from the US Discovery Channel who , after looking at a couple of my docos ,said “They’re good Bryan and I’ll take that one you’ve made on dinosaurs in New Zealand , but I have to say your work is too factual”
“What?” I said feeling my jaw starting to drop. “ I’m the business of telling factual stories . Isn’t unpacking and revealing the truth a good thing?”
“Put it this way” the buyer said “ My audience would much prefer to watch a programme that suggests Flying Saucers might exist and there might have been a gpvernment cover up , than one that proves they definitely do not exist.”
Social media can be a platform for promoting ideas in the public good.It can also be a platform for spreading gossip, lies and conspiracy theories .
Many years ago when I was a teacher one of the activities I would do with my students was to have them study advertising. What were the tricks of persuasion they employed? How can you separate fact from fiction?
The internet has made that last question much more complicated and I don’t envy today’s teachers trying to educate our young people about how not to swallow as truth everything they read, particualarly on social media.
One simple way of course is to cross check the facts.
Yes I know that can be time consuming, but learning how to do a quick search on the internet is a skill you can learn, I certainly wish I had been taught at school that remembering the right answers is far less important in life than how to ask the right questions.
Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.