Hear from Don Watson, award-winning author and former speechwriter for Paul Keating, as he decodes political language and reveals its influence on democracy and civil debate.
In a time of global climate crisis, political falsehoods and voters’ cynicism, how do we raise the standard of public conversation so that we can adequately address the urgent issues of today?
Post-truth politics is now dominating global media attention and political debates. From the White House to post-Brexit debates and Australian politics, disinformation rules and is often amplified by the echo chambers generated by social media bubbles.
Public discourse is progressively defined by disinformation, evasion, obfuscation or stonewalling. To what extent does this now ubiquitous distortion of public language shape our national destiny? And how do we re-establish public discourse based on facts, evidence and informed debate?
This Sydney Ideas conversation between Don Watson and Benedetta Brevini will consider how post truth, bullshit and management speak have both taken over and fundamentally undermined the quality of public discourse and policy-making.
This event was held on Wednesday 13 February at the University of Sydney.
Don Watson is one of Australia’s finest writers. His award-winning titles include Recollections of a Bleeding Heart: Paul Keating Prime Minister, Death Sentence, Watson's Dictionary of Weasel Words and American Journeys. In 2010 Don was awarded the Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal for Australian Literature. Since 2003 his website weaselwords.com.au has documented the viral spread of management-speak and the decline of public language. His critically acclaimed 2014 book The Bush won both the Indie Book of the Year and the NSW Premier's Literary Award.
Dr Benedetta Brevini is Senior Lecturer in Communication and Media at the University of Sydney and Visiting Fellow of the Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism at City University, London. She writes on the Guardian’s Comment is Free and contributes to a number of print and web publications, including Index of Censorship, OpenDemocracy and the Conversation. She is the author of Public Service Broadcasting online (2013) and editor of the acclaimed volume Beyond Wikileaks (2013). Her latest volumes are Carbon Capitalism and Communication : Confronting Climate Crisis (2017) and Climate Change and the Media (2018).
Tuesday 12 February
Join Ron Deibert, digital detective and founder of Citizen Lab, as he reveals the hidden surveillance systems used to spy on civil society.
Wednesday 20 February
As many as one million Uyghur people and other Muslim minorities in China have reportedly been detained indefinitely in "re-education camps" since 2017. Why is it happening and what are the political ramifications for us all?
Tuesday 26 February
Are brain and mind conditions such as dementia a case of luck of the draw, or are our body clocks and sleep cycle integral for keeping our brains healthy? Hear from Professor Sharon Naismith, whose research explores sleep and dementia prevention.
Lead image: Photo by Stephen Buwert
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