I was asked to write an op-ed for the Globe and Mail to highlight a conference called Worldviews: Global Trends in Media and Higher Education (I'm speaking on two panels).
Worldviews is being held at the University of Toronto. It is an international gathering of media types and academics. Its focus? The relationship between the media and the academy - increasingly two solitudes. The media are increasingly (and understandably) obsessed with ratings and circulation; the academy, on research and publishing. In between, the needs of the public, as citizens, are overlooked.
A recent case: as you may have heard, the mayor of Toronto has been accused of being a crackhead and there is a video of him supposedly indulging. Two reporters have seen the video which has since disappeared.
A well-known local prof who has been a frequent commentator on municipal politics, announced that he was "taking my phone off the hook" when the story broke. He claimed that he did not want to be "bothered."
A dereliction of duty, in my opinion.
University professors have an obligation to be public intellectuals, not just research grant supplicants.
Media organizers have an obligation to do explanatory journalism, not just eyeball hustlers.
Should be an interesting conference.