Mind the Gap
between
Perceptions & Reality
Plenary address by Nalaka Gunawardene
Science writer & communications consu...
My world…
 Journalist: Professional sceptic & asker-of-questions
 Interviewer on broadcast TV
 Moderator at technica...
Participants & trainers of HelpAge Asia & TVE Asia Pacific
Regional Media training workshop on ‘Understanding Ageing
and...
My coverage today…
Public Perceptions & Reality:
 Gaps in understanding world as is
 Times of rapid local & global c...
My coverage today…contd.
We are what we PERCEIVE
Factors shaping our perceptions incl:
 Mass media: coverage, biases...
Need to VERIFY impressions…
so we can grasp the full picture!
This is the way
Off-the-mark
Public perceptions…
Presume an issue LESS critical than it really is
(e.g. US public on climate change) O...
Examples from a current concern:
Human-induced climate change
A Tale of Two Worlds?
This is the way
Climate change communication lessons #1
Noise drowns many real debates
This is the way
Climate change communication lessons #2
Some people are truly confused
This is the way
Climate change communication lessons #3
Expert analyses can be inconvenient…
This is the way
Climate change communication lessons #4
Politicians react more to public opinion
This is the way
Ageing has its own share!
Headlines from across Asia…
‘Ageing time bomb will
change the way we live’
‘Ageing tsunami...
Ageism in news, images, cartoons
A Tale of Two Worlds?
This is the way
Bangkok Post, 9 Au g 2014
A Tale of Two Worlds?
This is the way
Nature of news media
Focus on everything out of the
ordinary, even negative
Tends to be fleeting: nuggets of
info, o...
Let’s remember:
MEDIA is a plural!
Media isn’t just news…
Perceptions shaped even more by
entertainment content (soa...
Mass media as
21st Century Pied Pipers?
 TV still dominant source of
public info in most
developing Asian societies
...
Media Dependency Syndrome?
Also remember:
Media is a mirror & platform…
 Media mirrors our societies
& times (often with biases)
 A contested s...
Mass media as Pied Pipers:
What can we do to change?
 Timeless advice: Caveat
emptor (Buyer beware!)
 We can & must ...
Media can be big part of the solution
Participants & trainers of HelpAge Asia & TVE Asia Pacific
Regional Media training workshop on ‘Understanding Ageing
and...
Small Step in a Long Journey
Most participants came with narrow views:
 Older people being neglected, destitute
 Ina...
There IS another way
to showcase older people’s voices!
 “The year-end documentary gave me
a wide array of windows to ...
AAddddiinngg LLiiffee ttoo YYeeaarrss:: East and South East Asian Broadcast
Roundtable onUnderstanding Ageing as a Develo...
Our Media ‘Ecosystem’
Mainstream media:
a highly contested
space; marketplace of
ideas; platform for
discussion & de...
Source: Measuring the Information Society 2013 Report by
International Telecommunications Union (ITU)
Social Media:
A billion conversations unfolding…
Online media based on:
conversations
interactions between users
wh...
Sept 2013: Facebook’s digital map shows
inter-connected relationships through their
social media platform
Social Media:
Coping with Global Cacophony?
Twitter, Facebook, other
platforms chatter 24/7
Even cautious users can ...
Development Community:
Trying hard to be heard in cacophony!
State media domination mostly over
Private media numerou...
Wanted: A new visual symbol
More POSITIVE!
Reflecting today’s
active ageing
Easily recognised
across cultures
No...
Towards a
New visual identity…
Comments from Twitter & Facebook:
“Totally agree! Especially the need to
move away fro...
How to communicate ageing issues
-without stereotyping
Inforgraphic
by HelpAge
Questions to discuss further…
Broadcast channel proliferation
and rising numbers using the
web means: mass audience is ...
Questions to discuss further…
Besides media, other factors
shaping public perceptions
include education, culture,
fami...
Questions to discuss further…
What can we learn from how
public perceptions were
successfully changed in other
social ...
- A Tale of Two
Cities (1859)
Change is slow & incremental
For a fact-based view of our world
Listen to Dr Hans Rosling of GapMinder
http://www.gapminder.org
Thank You!
Blog: http://nalakagunawardene.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NalakaG
Column: http://collidecolumn.wordpre...
Mind the Gap between Perceptions & Reality - Nalaka Gunawardene keynote to HelpAge Asia Pacific Conference, 1 Sep 2014
Mind the Gap between Perceptions & Reality - Nalaka Gunawardene keynote to HelpAge Asia Pacific Conference, 1 Sep 2014
Mind the Gap between Perceptions & Reality - Nalaka Gunawardene keynote to HelpAge Asia Pacific Conference, 1 Sep 2014
Mind the Gap between Perceptions & Reality - Nalaka Gunawardene keynote to HelpAge Asia Pacific Conference, 1 Sep 2014
Mind the Gap between Perceptions & Reality - Nalaka Gunawardene keynote to HelpAge Asia Pacific Conference, 1 Sep 2014
Mind the Gap between Perceptions & Reality - Nalaka Gunawardene keynote to HelpAge Asia Pacific Conference, 1 Sep 2014
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Mind the Gap between Perceptions & Reality - Nalaka Gunawardene keynote to HelpAge Asia Pacific Conference, 1 Sep 2014

Plenary talk by Nalaka Gunawardene at the HelpAge Asia Pacific Regional Conference 2014 on "Older People in Ageing Societies: Burden or Resource?" held in Chiang Mai, Thailand, 1 to 4 Sep 2014.
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Published in: Health & Medicine      
Source: www.slideshare.net


Transcripts - Mind the Gap between Perceptions & Reality - Nalaka Gunawardene keynote to HelpAge Asia Pacific Conference, 1 Sep 2014

  • 1. Mind the Gap between Perceptions & Reality Plenary address by Nalaka Gunawardene Science writer & communications consultant HelpAge Asia Pacific Regional Conference 2014 Older People in Ageing Societies: Burden or Resource? Chiang Mai, Thailand: 1-4 Sep 2014
  • 2. My world…  Journalist: Professional sceptic & asker-of-questions  Interviewer on broadcast TV  Moderator at technical and public policy events  Switching between micro & macro in analysis:  Columnist (newspaper, biz magazine, science website)  Op-ed essayist (national & international newspapers)  Public communicator of science & development  Producing videos & web content on development issues  Training advocacy groups & researchers on communicating well to policy makers & the public
  • 3. Participants & trainers of HelpAge Asia & TVE Asia Pacific Regional Media training workshop on ‘Understanding Ageing and Development in the Asia Pacific’ Chiang Mai, Thailand: 17 – 22 Nov 2003
  • 4. My coverage today… Public Perceptions & Reality:  Gaps in understanding world as is  Times of rapid local & global change  Most people form opinions on perceptions  Perceptions also shape public policy, investment  Change is all about managing perceptions Conundrum: More info, less clarity Modern communications: mixed blessing How to ride the wave to where we want?
  • 5. My coverage today…contd. We are what we PERCEIVE Factors shaping our perceptions incl:  Mass media: coverage, biases, distortions  Formal & informal education  Cultural factors (very specific to each society)  Advertising & ‘spin’ (even in development sector) Perceptions change (but slowly) as individuals grow & societies evolve… Such change can be influenced!
  • 6. Need to VERIFY impressions… so we can grasp the full picture! This is the way
  • 7. Off-the-mark Public perceptions… Presume an issue LESS critical than it really is (e.g. US public on climate change) OR -- Imagine an issue to be MORE critical than it is (e.g. health hazards of mobile phone use) In both cases, distorted perceptions can: Create confusion, alarm, even panic Distort policy & regulatory processes Perpetuate societal myths & prejudices Lead to pervasive discrimination
  • 8. Examples from a current concern: Human-induced climate change
  • 9. A Tale of Two Worlds? This is the way
  • 10. Climate change communication lessons #1 Noise drowns many real debates This is the way
  • 11. Climate change communication lessons #2 Some people are truly confused This is the way
  • 12. Climate change communication lessons #3 Expert analyses can be inconvenient… This is the way
  • 13. Climate change communication lessons #4 Politicians react more to public opinion This is the way
  • 14. Ageing has its own share! Headlines from across Asia… ‘Ageing time bomb will change the way we live’ ‘Ageing tsunami warning!’ ‘Ageing seniors risk budget crisis’ Populations ageing is a ‘daunting challenge’
  • 15. Ageism in news, images, cartoons
  • 16. A Tale of Two Worlds? This is the way
  • 17. Bangkok Post, 9 Au g 2014
  • 18. A Tale of Two Worlds? This is the way
  • 19. Nature of news media Focus on everything out of the ordinary, even negative Tends to be fleeting: nuggets of info, on-the-run Underlying factors barely probed or fully ignored News as events, not processes Hooked on ‘soundbites’ Oversimplifications common
  • 20. Let’s remember: MEDIA is a plural! Media isn’t just news… Perceptions shaped even more by entertainment content (soap operas, game shows, comedy) Media is highly DIVERSE:  More colourful in Asian languages  State or corporate owned  Some community owned (radio)  New media elements (blogs, FB, Twitter)
  • 21. Mass media as 21st Century Pied Pipers?  TV still dominant source of public info in most developing Asian societies  Promotes certain images, lifestyles & even myths  Pipers’ tunes may be fully sponsored…  Freedom to do this can’t be blocked in societies with market economy
  • 22. Media Dependency Syndrome?
  • 23. Also remember: Media is a mirror & platform…  Media mirrors our societies & times (often with biases)  A contested space: different views can and must clash!  Best media accommodate wide range of views  Media freedom: core value of pluralistic societies  There is no global conspiracy to dumb down public mind
  • 24. Mass media as Pied Pipers: What can we do to change?  Timeless advice: Caveat emptor (Buyer beware!)  We can & must strengthen media literacy = ability to consume media products with a critical thinking  Also work with media owners, managers & content producers  News & current affairs  Entertainment
  • 25. Media can be big part of the solution
  • 26. Participants & trainers of HelpAge Asia & TVE Asia Pacific Regional Media training workshop on ‘Understanding Ageing and Development in the Asia Pacific’ Chiang Mai, Thailand: 17 – 22 Nov 2003
  • 27. Small Step in a Long Journey Most participants came with narrow views:  Older people being neglected, destitute  Inadequate social spending on care  Poverty, unemployment, ill-health nexus During 7-day workshop, they learnt:  Demographic trends & transitions  Economic imperatives of populations ageing  Socio-economic potential of older people  Need to see & go beyond stereotyping  Key role of media in shaping public/policy minds
  • 28. There IS another way to showcase older people’s voices!  “The year-end documentary gave me a wide array of windows to showcase what I learned in Chiang Mai. I presented 2003 (retrospective) in the eyes older people - leaders, historians, political analysts and common citizens: news that was and lessons people did or didn’t learn…  “My supervisors were a bit wary about the concept because it could kill ABS-CBN's ratings…  “Prime time slot on Dec 28, 2003 at 9 pm. We outdid competition!” Baby Ruth Villarama, then News & Current Affairs Producer with ABS-CBN Network in the Philippines
  • 29. AAddddiinngg LLiiffee ttoo YYeeaarrss:: East and South East Asian Broadcast Roundtable onUnderstanding Ageing as a Development Issue. 24 - 26 Nov 2004. Pattaya, Thailand
  • 30. Our Media ‘Ecosystem’ Mainstream media: a highly contested space; marketplace of ideas; platform for discussion & debate  Social media: also a very cacophonous place; highly individualistic;  Both have noise + some utility & vast reach
  • 31. Source: Measuring the Information Society 2013 Report by International Telecommunications Union (ITU)
  • 32. Social Media: A billion conversations unfolding… Online media based on: conversations interactions between users who maybe anywhere Can involve: digital words/sounds/images, video/combination
  • 33. Sept 2013: Facebook’s digital map shows inter-connected relationships through their social media platform
  • 34. Social Media: Coping with Global Cacophony? Twitter, Facebook, other platforms chatter 24/7 Even cautious users can get overwhelmed quickly! How to sustain useful conversations amidst noise? Cyber civility in decline ‘Topic moments’ are getting shorter & shorter
  • 35. Development Community: Trying hard to be heard in cacophony! State media domination mostly over Private media numerous, audience scattered Younger people more with web & mobiles Era of memes, selfies, viral videos How to get just 15 SECONDS of attention? Enter ‘spin doctors’: jazzing up messages! Alarmism, distortions can happen Where is reflective discussion & debate?
  • 36. Wanted: A new visual symbol More POSITIVE! Reflecting today’s active ageing Easily recognised across cultures Not confused with any other activity I’m crowdsourcing…
  • 37. Towards a New visual identity… Comments from Twitter & Facebook: “Totally agree! Especially the need to move away from 'stick supporting man, man supporting woman' image!”  “Changing symbol is just a first step. Prejudices run deep. We need to work long and hard on changing them.”  “Symbols don’t really matter. Issue runs deeper. Don’t settle for cosmetic change…”
  • 38. How to communicate ageing issues -without stereotyping Inforgraphic by HelpAge
  • 39. Questions to discuss further… Broadcast channel proliferation and rising numbers using the web means: mass audience is now fragmented as never before. Yet media remains a key shaper of public perceptions & policy. What is the best way to influence a positive change in how media covers issues of ageing and older people?
  • 40. Questions to discuss further… Besides media, other factors shaping public perceptions include education, culture, family background and the role played by older people themselves. How can older people be more involved in changing society’s negative perceptions about themselves?
  • 41. Questions to discuss further… What can we learn from how public perceptions were successfully changed in other social development sectors, such as in disability rights, women's rights and children's rights? What did advocacy groups do right to change prevailing prejudices and policies?
  • 42. - A Tale of Two Cities (1859)
  • 43. Change is slow & incremental
  • 44. For a fact-based view of our world Listen to Dr Hans Rosling of GapMinder http://www.gapminder.org
  • 45. Thank You! Blog: http://nalakagunawardene.com Twitter: https://twitter.com/NalakaG Column: http://collidecolumn.wordpress.com All images used non-commercially and in good faith

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