top of page

Reheated Off the Press


Historians draw on newspaper and other records of this kind to construct their story of the past. But the nature of journalism—what is being communicated, to whom, and in what formats—has changed over the years. Discuss with your team: will today's approaches to journalism make it easier for people in the future to understand who we were and why we made the choices we did?

Today's new is dramatically different than news from 100 years ago. There are so many more outlets and almost all the news is online. One of key difference is the variety of topics being reported, from international news, sports, finance, weather, celebrities, fashion to community events. There is a special channel or blogger for everything. Social influencers are also a main source of news for many netizens. With the rise of user generated content such as TikTok, almost everyone has an audience and a chance to become trending news. 

No one ever had an “exclusive” with Abraham Lincoln; the very concept of the interview had to be invented first. Read about its short history—the idea of reporters asking people a series of probing questions only became common in the late 1800s—then discuss with your team: how have interviews changed in the era of podcasts and more partisan media?

"It emerged just a century and a half ago as an unrespectable reporter’s gimmick but came to dominate news gathering."

Newspapers began in America in the 1600s, but newspapers only began hiring reporters to tell the news in the 1820s. The newspaper was filled with public announcements and speeches. In fact, confidence (trust) between the interviewer and interview were private conversations; Lincoln spoke with reporters, but nobody ever quoted him. However, by the1870s, the idea of an interview became prominent. "President Andrew Johnson himself submitted to the new practice in 1868, and “the idea took like wildfire,” as the Atlanta journalist Henry Grady wrote in 1879." The practice started in America and at first Europeans disdained it, but slowly it gained support. Interestingly, in the beginning taking notes stenography was frowned upon, as they believed real reporters do not use notebooks. (It might make the person being interviewed more nervous) Amazingly back then, it was also customary for editors to submit their final draft for the interviewee's approval and consent. In this way, the press was manipulated and under the control of the subject.  It was the culture in Europe and America to cover for politicians who said things they should not have said.


Journalistsic style changed dramatically over the years, from a summary of events to the editor to a direct address to the readers. "Chronologically presented news gave way to a summary lead and inverted pyramid structure that required the reporter to make judgments about what aspects of an event mattered most. Journalists began to be less relayers of documents and messages and more interpreters and explainers." Leading journalists became influential personalities that dictated how the public understood history and the truth. By the 1930s, journalism and interviews became a public watchdog, to protect the public from powerful politicians and governments.

Access to intellectual conversations reshaped the early modern age. Today’s interview podcasts are expanding social learning at an unprecedented scale. Writer Henrik Karlsson shares his observations about the impacts of podcasts. Scandinavia has the highest podcast penetration in the world, and it has affected the speech of its citizens over the last 15 years. Though podcasts are not an ideal medium for conveying information, they are ideal for the transmission of patterns of speech and thought. We’re not particularly good at learning facts 


by listening, but we are good at modeling the tone, cadence, and form of speech we listen to, especially if it is as unstructured and informal as a conversation. Our parasocial instincts influence us to unconsciously mimic the talkers’ speech patterns, even it they are just voices from our headset. The convergence toward the values and speech patterns of the person we are talking to (or have the psychological illusion of talking to) also increases if we perceive them as higher in status than we are. All of this points to intellectual interview podcasts—such The Ezra Klein Show, Conversations with Tyler, or The Tim Ferriss Show— being a new and powerful means of spreading speech patterns.


As social media and other platforms gain popularity, this has also led to the decline in local dialects. Language has changed dramatically in the last centuries. IN 1962, THE German sociologist Jürgen Habermas published one of the foundational works in media studies, called The Structural Transformations of the Public Sphere. Habermas argued that in the Middle Ages, there were only private conversations and official government proclamations. What he calls the public sphere did not exist —a space separate from both private life and the state, where people engage in intellectual discussions about the society they live in.  

How did the public sphere come into being? By the Renaissance, the price of long-distance communication had dropped to a level that allowed previously isolated scholars to connect. A small group of European intellectuals, known as the Republic of Letters, established a letter-writing network spanning Europe. In these letters, they collectively invented a new way of thinking and being, a new culture. 

One of the most influential people from this network was Dutch scholar Erasmus, who loved to travel, share his views with scholars from different regions and also write letters, which he later reprinted and could be read to hundreds of people. He even wrote while riding his horse - he claims he wrote the monologue/prologue to his most famous piece of writing, "In Praise of Folly", which as 200 pages!  For hundreds of years thereafter, people read these letters and emulated the tone. Erasmus’ Latin was intimately personal, less formal than Medieval Latin, yet rich in references to antiquity and serious concern around theology, philosophy, and governance. The informal style made it easy for people to pick up his worldview and style through social learning.  However, this level of parasocial learning ended with the birth of television and radio. The language used no longer gave a window into the types of conversation and thought that drove intellectual progress. It wasn’t informal and authentic enough to let us learn how intellectuals grapple with a question. 


The attraction of interview podcasts is their DIY nature. It is a return to the intellectual imitation that marked the birth of the public. Millions of people in far-off places listen (and learn and mimic) these language several hours a week. "Anecdotally, people are picking up new behaviors and mental models from the conversations they overhear. They are imitating, at least on a superficial level, the strategies intellectuals use when confronting hard questions in real time (“You are saying …”, “Let me rephrase that question,” “There are several sub-questions here; let me start with …”). They absorb the tone that successful people use to establish casual rapport with someone they have just met. Podcast listeners also hear, again and again, how someone good at asking questions provides a context for someone else to be interesting." One negative effect is we are getting worse at taking turns because podcast are long monologue conversations. 

Can these intellectual podcasts change the world?  Maybe. But for one that listens to them, there are 10 who listen to gossip and entertainment.


Boring or entertaining or effective? The political interview is facing tough challenges on many fronts. A political interview is when a political candidate or elected official does a 1:1 interview a journalist who asks, chats, grills, challenges their political standing. It's a chance for the politician to get noticed, gain recognition, make a direct statement, ands answer questions about their policies. This all sounds logical and nice, but many political interviews are now becoming a shouting match than an intellectual discussion.

As is the case with every general election, journalists and broadcasters have come under intense scrutiny for the way they probe and challenge elected politicians. But something felt different for the December 2019 election. Prominent politicians refused to appear on certain programmes or face traditional one-to-one encounters that were the hallmark of previous elections. Many prefer to take to social media to deliver their key messages and soundbites rather than sit in a studio for an extended period. Trump was face for taking on social media instead of the journalists. Politicians and interviewers sometimes seem increasingly unhappy with the standard practice. Have broadcasters changed their approach? Do interviewers believe a more combative approach is more effective or has that strayed into unpleasant exchanges that put off audiences? In this broadcast programme Andrew Marr explores recent examples and discusses how the format should rise to the challenges it now faces in the digital and social media dominant world.  Quite an interesting conversation. 

Political comics and illustrations have been published for centuries, sometimes causing considerable controversy with their sharply-etched messages. The rise of graphic journalism on the Internet has taken that approach to the next level. Discuss with your team: how much of an impact does the format in which people consume news have on how they respond to it?

political cartoon.png

Format absolutely matters. People are inherently trend followers and every generation seems to have its favorite format. The last generation was trained by TV and mass media and advertising was a huge influence. People had to get their message across in 15'', 30'', or 60'' seconds. Currently, one of the most popular formats is short videos blogs, by social influencers i.e. TikTok. People's attention span has decreased and a long lengthy article or a long interview doesn't seem like the right way to reach the younger generation. According to WSC, graphic journalism is on the rise.

This anonymous graphic on the left is an example of user generated content against joining the army. Even though it has a retro shade, it was uploaded in 2015. Likely it is by a British illustrator given the Union Jack on the bottom left and Tesco, which is a British supermarket chain. The graphic in the center so resembles the British royal coat of arms but instead of a lion and a unicorn alongside the shield, it is replaced with two sheep chained. The four center symbols Tesco, alcohol, surveillance camera and baton implies violence and oppression.  

For those that like to explore a drawing instead of reading lines of text, graphic journalism is amazing and there are now many different platforms that specialize in this form of communication in this digital age of clickbait news. As a form of visual storytelling, it can clarify complex subjects in an easy and approachable way, which is invaluable when most people have neither the time nor the attention span for long, in-depth articles. Also, it’s slow journalism, with the reporter being embedded in his subject for a longer period, and therefore it’s timeless. Comics journalism addresses the big themes of our age, not the news that is out of date by tomorrow. 

#1 Drawing the Times

Founded in 2015, Dutch platform Drawing the Times has addressed several big themes of this age, including a climate change special, human rights special, a feminism special, a stories of the Arab world special, and a special called Scribble Your Story: a graphic journalism contest for journalists from six African countries. They even have two meta-specials on graphic journalism: one explaining how it works, and another one on the future of graphic journalism, being one of the fastest rising comic disciplines in the world. Also noteworthy is their ongoing dossier with refugee stories.  (see on the right) And although this platform is Dutch in origin, the comics are all in English, because Drawing the Times’ ambitions are unmistakably far wider. Among its ranks are internationally renowned artists like Olivier Kugler (Germany), Josh Neufeld (USA), and Victoria Lomasko (Russia). Another remarkable thing: the editorial board is 100% female.

#2 Cartoon Movement

Even more ambitious is Cartoon Movement, at least in regard to scope. ‘The Internet’s #1 publishing platform for high quality political cartoons and comics journalism’ is the tagline and they are probably right about that.  Literally collaborating artists from every country is represented here, although you won’t find any really long stories. The comics section is of substantial quality but small. However, you won’t find a larger collection of political cartoons anywhere else, with new additions at least four times a week. Interestingly, this platform may be an international organization, but its origins are also Dutch. The Netherlands may be a tiny country, but it is truly big in comics journalism, thanks to government support. The platform was founded in 2010 to ‘promote the political cartoon as a fundamental style of journalism’ and it did early projects on both the Haiti Earthquake and the Occupy movement

Drawing the Times.png
cartoon movement.png
graphic journalism.jpg
death row.png

#3 Graphic Journalism

Graphic Journalism is the personal project of the Lebanese-Swiss comics journalist David Chappatte, who was born in Pakistan. He draws for Le Temps, Neue Zürcher Zeitung (Sunday edition) and the International New York Times, and publishes both in English and in French on Graphic Journalism. The subjects he addresses on Graphic Journalism include life on death row, the Guatemalan war, the current situation in Gaza and Lebanon, the empty capitol of Myanmar, and memories of The Wall in Berlin twenty-five years after it fell.  This is not a joint venture with many different artists, so it’s not as varied, but Chappatte’s work is important and interesting enough to warrant its place in this list.

#4 The Nib

The Nib is an American online non-fiction comics publisher edited by Eleri Harris and award winning graphic journalist Matt Bors. It was founded in 2013 and relaunched in 2016 and delivers engaging and provocative social commentary in the form of political cartoons and satire, comics journalism, and non-fiction writing (like essays) from a diverse team of contributors. Their focus is mostly the American perspective and American news, like the GOP tax cuts, the machinations of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, and how nationalism is re-inventing history. The Nib’s content is heavily based on satirical traditions of Late Night TV shows, with titles like ‘Trump’s Twitter Was Deleted And For A Brief 11 Minutes, We Were All Happy Again’. The light comical touch of The Nib is a welcome change to the usually rather heavy load of serious world news.

#5 Symbolia

Sadly Symbolia is not currently active anymore, the digital comics journalism magazine, that was developed for tablet computers like the iPad and the Kindle, still contains many pieces that warrant its place in this list. Symbolia existed for only two years, from 2012 until 2014, but it helped both legitimize an industry and change the way people think about what journalism can be. It has published hundreds of pages of illustrated journalism in those two years, on stuff like the Affordable Care Act, terraforming on Mars, and the future of skilled labor. It also launched the careers of quite a few important artists like Jon Chad (on making the future by 3D printing), science journalist Roxanne Palmer and Dutch graphic journalist Eva Hilhorst (the latter would initiate the above mentioned Drawing the Times). Like Drawing the Times, Symbolia – founded by Erin Polgreen and Joyce Rice – was a mostly female venture.

the nibs.jpg

In the early 2000s, a single television show on a niche American cable TV channel reimagined how one could present the news. The Daily Show critiqued traditional journalism through a mixture of witty writing and carefully-curated video clips; for a while, it became one of the most trusted news sources for younger Americans. Discuss with your team: should the news have a sense of humor? Can it still be communicated in an unbiased way in a world of reshared reels and trending videos—and, if so, should it?

The Daily Show.jpg

Since its beginnings in 1999, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has been a unique and evolving comedy television program. This research paper by Matthew E. Popkin evaluates the impact that The Daily Show has had on the political and media process and how Stewart and The Daily Show team have become an important part of the American democratic system. In short, there are three major checks that the show seeks to provide: a check on the news media; a check on accountability; and a check on the hypocrisy of the process. 

Many scholars and media critics debate whether the show is fake news or reliable journalism. The show utilizes satire, hyperbole, and fake news to critique prominent current events or political issues. There are three main components to The Daily Show. Host Jon Stewart typically opens the program with a segment about the top stories of the day. A short segment follows with a fake political correspondent or commentator exaggerating the issue or mocking the absurdity of a situation. The show concludes with a guest interview either for promotion of a recent work or for discussion on a current political issue. 

There is a significant different between a fake news program and a satirical news program. Fake news is simply made up and has no basis in fact. Satirical news, though, puts a spin on the actual news. Stewart and the other writers of the show rarely invent stories. Instead, they construct episodes around sound bites and video clips from actual stories on the major news networks. One of the most valuable aspects of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart how it critiques the major 24-hour news networks, including but not limited to CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. For example, it often mocks how news networks sensationalize celebrity events including, the death of Anna Nicole Smith, the death of Michael Jackson and wedding of Chelsea Clinton. 

the Colbert Report.jpg

In conclusion, while The Daily Show is clearly comedic entertainment, it also provides valuable oversight of the American democratic process and political system. By constantly highlighting inconsistent, hypocritical, and unfounded claims, The Daily Show works to foster better discourse. The program’s critiques of specific networks and of the media, commonly during a segment called crossfire, more generally seek to make the news and journalistic process more accountable to viewers. Stewart also broadcasts his personal interviews in which he debates serious political and philosophical issues with both those with whom he agrees and those with whom he disagrees. These are published online and have do not have to abide by advertising policies.  Lastly, it reaches beyond a late night show's viewers becuase it is rebroadcast through several different channels and even led to a spin-off, The Cobert Report. So, take The Daily Show with Jon Stewart with a grain of salt – but also take it seriously.


Jon Stewart announced in 2015 he is stepping down as the host of the The Daily Show after 16 years. Satirical news shows have become hugely popular in the United States. Just look at the political impact of The Daily Show in recent years as well as John Oliver's more recent success with Last Week Tonight.

Americans actually trust some of their beloved fake newsmen more than some of the nation's more serious sources. Pew Research released a trust ranking of news organisations in the United States and the Daily Show is considered more trustworthy by the public than both Bloomberg and the Economist when it comes to political coverage.

last week tonight 2.jpg

The Daily Show was a pitstop on the path to what some call investigative comedy—which remains just one of several strategies news organizations have been trying to adapt to changing consumer preferences. Explore some of these below, then discuss with your team: which ones succeeded, and what impact have they had?


Ever since his “Last Week Tonight” launched on HBO in April of 2014, people have been insisting he’s a reporter or a journalist, doing something called “investigative comedy.” And they believe he sheds important light on topics that often go ignored or misunderstood and yet need to be digested in full despite efforts by news media. He told a group of people who call themselves journalists earlier this week. “I am not a journalist. I think that’s factually clear.”

Is John Oliver a journalist, despite his protests? “It’s a question you have to answer with another question: What is a journalist in this day and age?” says Geoffrey Baym, author of the 2006 book From Cronkite to Colbert: The Evolution of Broadcast News. "He doesn’t get press credentials. He has no access. He’s not in the White House briefing room every day. His agenda is much blurrier. But none of that is to say he’s not really doing important work – discussing public affairs in a really intelligent, fresh way that brings issues to light that people might not know about.” 

​More importantly is how despite the jokes, a soon-to-be published study finds 

from cronkite to colbert.jpg

that Oliver’s work sways the opinion of people who watch him. One of the segments that brought Oliver to wider renown was an 11-minute examination of so-called “net neutrality,” or a policy that holds online service providers should offer equal access to all content and applications, no matter their origin. Researchers working with the University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication found in 2015 that people who watched “Last Week Tonight” were moved more by Oliver’s program to support net neutrality protections than by any other mainstream media source, says Dannagal Young, an associate professor of communications who took part in the analysis. And the reason is comedians like Oliver, he adds, sound a lot like us, and their casual tone often proves more appealing to modern audiences than that of a TV journalist bound by the medium’s traditions.

24 hour news.jpg

Digital Tsunami: Breaking News at Breakneck Speed

24 hour news impacts.png

The 24-hour news cycle (or 24/7 news cycle) is 24-hour investigation and reporting of news, which accompanies with fast-paced lifestyles. Previous to this news was only broadcasted in the evening for half an hour. The vast news resources available in recent decades have increased competition for audience and advertiser attention, prompting competitive media providers to deliver the latest news, faster and in a more compelling way. A complete news cycle consists of the media reporting on some event, followed by the media reporting on public and other reactions to the earlier reports. 24-hour news cycle arrived with the advent of cable television channels dedicated to news, starting with CNN and later others joined including MSNBC, Fox News and CNBC. In order to fill out more time, 24 hour news channels include more expert opinions, trivial stories that would not have made prime time news previously and try to manipulate the audience by providing sensationalized news. For example news about violent crimes get more views. 24 hour news channels dedicate more time to violent crimes, even though realistically they are very rare, and this manipulates public perception.

a video about the impact of 24 hour news cycles

"Pivot to video" is a phrase referring to the trend, starting in 2015, of media publishing companies cutting staff resources for written content (generally published on their own websites) in favor of short-form video content (often published on third-party platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat and Tiktok. According to commentators, however, it was in reality driven by advertising; only advertisers, not consumers, prefer video over text. Due to the numerous jobs lost as a result, the term eventually became a euphemism for layoffs, death, and termination. In was revealed in a scandal that Facebook had artificially inflated numbers to its advertisers about how long viewers watched ads. Therefore, many journalists and industry analysts concluded that the shift to video was based on such misleading or fake metrics about a customer demand for additional video content. In general, pivot to video drives consumers to already huge and powerful video-streaming platforms and slowly eats away the credibility and stickiness of reputed media for hard news.

With the iPhone in hand, everyone is a news channel and content creator. Iphoneography refers to the process of taking and editing photos on an iPhone.  Gone are the days of catching up on news via a traditional TV. In fact, young people rarely watch TV and mainly get their news from Internet platforms. This leads to the mobile journalism. People no longer need to find the news; now the news finds them via push notifications on their smartphones. With more and more journalists becoming mobile, the need for a newsroom diminishes.  The use of smartphones for news gathering and transmission, therefore, could eventually allow any journalist to set up their own news outlet at a minimum cost. This may bring authenticity and locality, it also reduces quality as just about anyone can be a mobile reporter, uploading diverse content from anywhere around the world. 

In terms of the other context of the iPhoneography, yes, iPhones are taking the place of professional DSLR cameras. With its many generations, iPhones now boast a much better camera, with many photo/video editing apps, and for the iPhoneography pros, there are also add-ons: lenses, mounts and adapters. 

iphoneography 2.jpg

Is AI assisted articles that human created news is dying. I don't think so, but it will make a difference. The uniqueness of personally crafted bylines and narratives will become akin to rare art in a world of replicas. This will not diminish AI’s role in the future of content production, but rather complement it. Generative AI is not a panacea for content, but a new paradigm that will put value and emphasis on the human touch. One benefit would be the scalability of an AI editor that can craft narratives from a mosaic of public 

AI generated news.png

input. Most large reputable news agencies are taking a responsible approach to AI generated articles, saying that they must be vetted before publishing.  Some new media are less open to AI, such as the Guardian which said, "The paper will also focus on using the technology to help journalists to “interrogate large data sets” or assist with corrections, suggestions, and reducing the workload from “time-consuming business processes”. Part of the worry is about copyright as AI is less trained on this aspect. Many other news providers however have openly embraced AI to write thousands of articles a week and will be considering adding a line to indicate "AI has been used for this article." 

A content farm or content mill is a company that employs large numbers of freelance writers or uses automated tools to generate a large amount of textual web content which is specifically designed to satisfy algorithms for maximal retrieval by search engines, known as SEO (search engine optimization). Their main goal is to generate  advertising revenue through attracting reader page views, as first exposed in the context of social spam. Critics allege that content farms provide relatively low-quality content, and that they maximize profit by producing "just good enough" material rather than high-quality articles. Articles that are written by human authors (rather than by automated 

content farms.jpg

techniques) are often not written by a specialist in the subjects reported. Some authors working for sites identified as content farms have admitted knowing little about the fields on which they report. 

Negative impacts include: 

1) Disinformation, fake news -> reducing trust

2) Filled with clickbait

3) Propaganda or conspiracy theories -> biase and discrimination

4) violate copyright laws 

Clickbait (also known as link bait) is a text or a thumbnail link that is designed to attract attention and to entice users to follow ("click") that link and read, view, or listen to the linked piece of online content, being typically deceptive,

sensationalized, or otherwise misleading. A "teaser" aims to exploit the "curiosity gap", providing just enough information to make readers of news websites curious, but not enough to satisfy their curiosity without clicking through to the linked content. From a historical perspective, the techniques employed by clickbait authors can be considered derivative of yellow journalism, which presented little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead used eye-catching headlines. Clickbait is primarily used to drive page views on websites, whether for their own purposes or to increase online advertising revenue. It can also be used for phishing attacks for the purpose of spreading malicious files or stealing user information. Many platforms are finding solutions to reduce the amount of clickbait. Because of the public's negative reaction, many have begun installing ad blockers and providing only sponsored advertising which focused on higher quality content. 

clickbait examples.png

In an age of advertising, many users have adopted ad blockers or have developed ad disdain (a disbelief in ads) that brands have resorted to branded content to get their message out there. In marketing, branded content (aka branded entertainment) is content produced by an advertiser or content whose creation was funded by an advertiser. Branded content is designed to build awareness for a brand by associating it with content that shares its values.  Its purpose is not to push its services and product. It seeks to generate content or notoriety for the brand itself.

Did you know 88% of publishers drive revenue with branded content? It uses storytelling to entertain the audience about the brand's values, spanning videos, podcasts, video games and even events. Many brands have sponsored or collaborated with film producers to create branded content including movies. Another key trend is for users to generate the content and share their own story (like a testimonial) and it has the potential to go viral. Over 95% of the time, web sites that feature branded content were more successful than web sites featuring typical advertisements, and are 24% more effective at increasing the purchase intent of viewers. Branded content is most effective in the 18-34 age group, who tend to react with more positive opinions and being overall more responsive to branded sites. 

branded marketing.png
branded marketing 2.png

Explanatory journalism or explanatory reporting is a form of reporting that attempts to present ongoing news stories in a more accessible manner by providing greater context than would be presented in traditional news sources. The term is often associated with the explanatory news website Vox, but explanatory reporting has also been a Pulitzer Prize category category since 1985. Other examples include The Upshot by The New York TimesBloomberg QuicktakeThe Conversation, and FiveThirtyEight.

vox 1.png
climate change.png

Among climate scientists in 2013, 97% of peer-reviewed papers that took a position on the cause of global warming said that humans are responsible, 3% said they were not. Among Fox News guests in late 2013, this was presented as a more even balance between the two viewpoints, with 31% of invited guests believing it was happening and 69% not.


False balance, known colloquially as bothsidesism, is a media bias in which journalists present an issue as being more balanced between opposing viewpoints than the evidence supports. Journalists may present evidence and arguments out of proportion to the actual evidence for each side or may omit information that would establish one side's claims as baseless. False balance has been cited as a cause of misinformation.

False balance is a bias which usually stems from an attempt to avoid bias and gives unsupported or dubious positions an illusion of respectability. It creates a public perception that some issues are scientifically contentious, though in reality they are not, therefore creating doubt about the scientific state of research. This can be exploited by interest groups such as corporations like the fossil fuel industry or the tobacco industry, or ideologically motivated activists such as vaccination opponents or creationists.

Examples of false balance for scientific issues include the topics of human-caused climate change versus natural climate variability, the health effects of tobacco, the alleged relation between thiomersal and autism, alleged negative side effects of the HPV vaccine, and evolution versus intelligent design

Before photography, artists had to draw sketches of newsworthy events; consider this recreation of Lincoln's assassination. Today, broadcasters can quickly animate events for which they lack real footage. Discuss with your team: can such animations serve an important function in informing the public?

Before photography and surveillance videos, artists captured the crime scene and shared it with the media. Consider how the artist interpretation distorts our understanding of history. "On the morning of April 14, 1865, Booth learned of President Lincoln’s intention to visit Ford’s Theatre (dark tourism destination) that evening. He and his co-conspirators planned to attack not only Lincoln, but also Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William H. Seward. Familiar with the theatre’s layout, Booth entered the Presidential Box at 10:00 p.m. and fired one shot into the back of Lincoln’s head. He also stabbed the Lincolns’ guest, Major Henry Rathbone, before escaping into the night."


Are CGI envisionings of a killer whale attack, Brown's alleged bullying and what goes on in the male brain the future of news?  Another form of news has been introduced and distorting the lines of fact and fiction - animated news. This means if news stations can't find the evidence or have footage, they can make their own. Taiwan's Next Media has a YouTube channel full of 1000 videos just like that. From killer whales attacking the trainer in the San Diego Zoo, to Prime Minister Gordon Brown getting furious with staff, to Tiger Wood's accident, to stupid videos comparing female celebrities, these animated news videos have become a part of our pop culture. (think silly memes) 

Do you think the news media has a right to do that? Do they need the person's consent? I think so, because these media companies are making money off of their image as entertainment. How does that influence their authenticity of these news channels? Obviously, it also discredits the news media. Do you think the audience knows it is meant to be entertainment and not news? Some people will believe them unfortunately and those public opinions matter.

animated news.png

Tiger Woods was one of the most famous and the wealthiest athlete in the world during his heyday. Then it all came crashing down (literally!). In 2009, November 27, Tiger was found injured in a car crash near his mega mansion in Florida.  Supposedly, he hit a tree and a fire hydrant and passed out. His beautiful supermodel wife Elin Nordegren used a 9-iron golf club to break the windows and free him. Because there were not any real-life footage and so many questions (was he drunk? why didn't the airbags deploy? were they arguing?) it became instantly the hottest news topic. Many media wanted in on the story and began making their own versions of the truth. Later it became known that Tiger had many extra-marital 

 affairs. It was a scandal! He got a divorce and had to go through counseling. He became the poster boy for young athletes under too much pressure to perform and make money.

In a twist of fate, on February 23, 2021, Woods got in another car accident in Los Angeles where he hit the median in the road. This time a real one. It shattered his ankle and fractured his leg. The accident made him out to be a hero, with many golfers wearing red and black in a show of support for his recovery. He is still playing, and now most of the spotlight is on his young prodigy son. History repeats itself, again!

While they are not meant as news sources, what some have criticized as “CNN operas” about recent events have also found an audience. Consider the selections below, then discuss: what current developments in the real world would be most suitable for adaptation into song?


Since becoming the president of America back in 2016, Trump has been everywhere. Even in Cantonese opera! Cantonese opera, which originated from Northern China as early as the 13th century. 

Hong Kong celebrity feng-shui master Li Kui-Ming put on a satirical show featuring Trump and a host of other controversial political characters, including Ivanka, Kim Jung-un and even Chinese leader Mao. Premiered in Hong Kong, the show was sold out to 


to laugher and gasps for 4 days. The story in short is about a young 26-year-old Trump, who crashes Nixon's Chinese diplomatic party and finds his Chinese twin brother. Later it jumps to Ivanka running the White House. Mixed with classic Trump phrases such as "You're fired!" and arias in Cantonese opera, the show is a strange and humorous display for art imitating life. Nevertheless, the show has gathered attention from many leading Western news media including CNN and Washington Post. Traditional Cantonese Opera has been hoping to find new ways to engage with the audience, but is this the right way? Or does 'Trump on Show' show a new side to opera's capabilities?


Many of you might have heard of the name Malcolm X but might not know much about him. Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little and was a civil rights leader and Muslim minister during the Civil Rights Movement. He had a very tough childhood full of racism, violence and poverty and later crime and imprisonment.  He was a supporter for the Nation of Islam (an Islamic extremist group) in the early days, but later due to differences, he formed his own sect of Islam called National Mosque Inc. after going on a holy pilgrimage to Mecca. Unfortunately at the age of 39, he was assassinated by Nation of Islam members.

The Opera X take the audience through Malcolm's life and many of the racist acts he encountered. The audience members and critics called it "haunting and calming" just as it did in its first premier in 1986. Now 36 years later in a time of racial tension, it makes sense for the audience of that community, which Malcolm once belonged.  Listen to one of the songs "Jones is Not Your Name".

Come from Away is a musical, with book, music and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein. It is based on the events in the Newfoundland town of Gander during the week following the September 11 attacks, when 38 planes, carrying approximately 7,000 passengers, were ordered to land unexpectedly at Gander International Airport. The characters in the musical are based on actual Gander residents and stranded travelers they housed and fed. Audiences and critics have received the musical as a cathartic reminder of the capacity for human kindness in even the darkest of times and the triumph of humanity over hate.

come from away.jpg

Plot synopsis: On the morning of September 11, 2001, the townsfolk of Gander (including Claude the mayor, Oz the police constable, Beulah the teacher, Bonnie the SPCA workers) describe life in Newfoundland and how they learn of the terrorist attacks taking place in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The attacks result in the closure of US airspace, diverting 38 international aircraft to Gander International Airport. The passengers on these aircraft doubled the population of the small Newfoundland town. The Gander townspeople spring to action and prepare to house, feed, clothe, and comfort the nearly 7,000 passengers, along with 19 animals in cargo. In emergency shelters, the passengers and crew watch replays of the attacks on the news and learn the true reason why they were grounded. The "islanders" in Gander and the surrounding towns open up their homes to the "plane people", regardless of their guests' race, nationality, or sexual orientation. Two women, Beulah (from Gander) and Hannah (from New York), bond over the fact that both of their sons are firefighters, but Hannah's son remains missing after the attacks. Hannah asks Beulah to take her to a Catholic church, and a number of characters make their way to other houses of worship around town. "The Prayer" features prayers of different religions including Hebrew, Christian and also Islamic, uniting the people in harmony. 


Evita is a musical with music by legendary Broadway producer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. It concentrates on the life of Argentine political leader Eva Perón, the second wife of Argentine president Juan Perón. The story follows Evita's early life, rise to power, charity work, and death.  Evita plot follows the life of Eva Duarte as a poor yet ambitious country teenager. She utilized her charm and fashion sense to get to the top, and her story involves corruption and the price you pay for fame. She wanted to run for vice president with her husband, but she died from cancer and tragically, a monument for her was never built.

According to Webber's website, Evita began life as a recording of the now infamous ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’, which was released in 1976. This was followed by the complete rock opera concept album, which was certified

gold, creating the building blocks for the show’s debut in 1978.  The original production featured Elaine Paige as Eva and David Essex as Che, debuting at the Prince Edward Theatre on 21 June 1978. The song "Eva's Final Broadcast" is about Evita realizing she is about to die and renounces her pursuit of the vice presidency and swears her eternal love to the people of Argentina.

In 1996, Evita graced the silver screen and starred Madonna, Antonio Banderas and Jonathan Pryce. The film received 5 Academy Award nominations, eventually winning one for Best Original Song for ‘You Must Love Me’ from the film. Madonna also won a Golden Globe award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.

A guiding principle behind nature documentaries is that those creating them should never interfere with their subjects. In 2018, a BBC crew broke this rule to rescue a group of stranded penguins. The choice proved controversial. Discuss with your team: did they do the right thing? Are there times when observers should be obligated to get involved?

Leading wildlife camera operators and film-makers have defended the film crew on David Attenborough’s latest BBC series Dynasties over their decision to break with convention and intervene to save a group of penguins that had become trapped in a ravine.

penguines 1.png

 Nature film-makers are discouraged from intervening in the events they are attempting to capture on film. While the general principle is to avoid interfering with the natural course of events, the crew on the Dynasties series stepped in when they saw the birds’ predicament.

Veteran wildlife cameraman Doug Allan, whose work has been lauded by Attenborough, described the convention of not interfering as a “cardinal rule”. He said: “If [for example] you’re watching a predator and prey relationship, the key thing is your presence must not influence the outcome.”

But Allan said he saw no problem with the film crew’s intervention. “Interfering or not is a decision based on what you’re seeing at the time. To interfere on a predation event is definitely wrong but, in this situation, they didn’t spook the penguins. All they did was create an escape route for them,” he said. Allan explained it would have been a far more stressful situation for the penguins had the film crew decided to pick them up and move them.

While it has previously been reported that Attenborough had opposed the move, saying that “tragedy is a part of life”, Gunton said that the presenter had told him he also would have rescued the penguins.

bottom of page