Oh, this is exciting: Remember how Roone Arledge of ABC revolutionized TV sports by superimposing dramatic personal narratives onto matches, then revolutionized TV news with magazine shows like 20/20 and Nightline? Well, now ABC News is expanding on this pioneering legacy by venturing where no other news division has dared to go before (on purpose): fiction! Or, as ABC calls it, "reporting from the future." The network is asking everyone to imagine the hellscape of 2100 in order to "form a powerful... narrative about the perils of our future", and thus incite change. To do this, you just need to make a short video about how terrible things are going to be, based on a "briefing" from ABC's team of trained psychics. Here's the email pitch sent to some Columbia students yesterday:
> Dear xxxx,
> ABC News wants YOU to report from the future
> In an unprecedented television and internet event,
> ABC News is you asking you to help create a story
> that has yet to unfold. What will our world look
> like in one hundred years if we don't save our
> troubled planet?
> This fall, in a dramatic 2-hour television special,
> the world's brightest minds will take us on a
> journey through the next century to reveal how the
> "perfect storm" of population growth, resource
> depletion and climate change could destabilize our
> As part of the broadcast, we are launching a massive
> online event inviting creative minds across the
> globe to create short video reports that depict the
> future. Using predictions from top experts, we will
> feed detailed briefings from the years 2015, 2050
> and 2100 – and we're asking you to imagine your
> future world!
> We will choose submissions to include in an evolving
> web-based story, and we will also select some of the
> most compelling videos to appear in our prime time
> ABC News special: Earth 2100, airing this fall.
> This is a unique chance to join others around the
> world in shedding light on issues facing our future.
> FOR MORE ABOUT HOW TO GET INVOLVED VISIT
> NOTE: Please note that the Earth Institute is not a
> sponsor of this event. The posting of events by the
> Earth Institute does not constitute an endorsement
> of the event.
> Contact: Columbia Univ. School of Int'l & Public
> Affairs, 420 West 118th Street, New York, NY 10027
Brilliant: Unbound by the constraints of actual events or verifiable data, or the costs of having to travel or fact check or whatever, ABC's "reporters" will be able to deliver the sorts of cheap emotional thrills normally reserved for fearmongering video propagandaists. Which, come to think of it, is sort of what they'll become. By design.
I think I'll skip the actual broadcast (scheduled for this fall) and just watch the inevitable takedowns on Daily Show, Fox News, etc.