Note — May 03, 2020

Can Speculative Journalism Help Us Prepare for What’s to Come?

Seen in → No.124

Source → niemanreports.org/articles/speculative-journali...

As I mentioned in the latest members’ Dispatch a week ago, I’m paying attention to the various disciplines integrating fiction in their practices. In that one it was theory-fiction, this time it’s speculative stories by journalists. The piece by Eryn Carlson considers when speculation can be useful, and how it could be an issue in this period of fake news and misinformation. She gives various examples and quotes from the people who produced the projects, including useful insights from Sentiers favourites Amy Webb and Rose Eveleth.

By illustrating future worlds, speculative journalism can help audiences think about what might be to come in more concrete terms. […]

The term isn’t strictly defined, but it’s often used to describe works of journalism about imagined futures, pieces where science fiction is entwined with facts and even original reporting to elucidate likely, or at least possible, future realities. […]

It takes as a point of departure that a reporter can use the tools of sci-fi, futurism, strategic foresight, and forecasting as any other tool in journalism—just as one might use computer-assisted reporting or database reporting.” […]

“What sci-fi does is take society as we know it today and applies — you might call them filters — new technologies, new situations, and asks what is it about human society that would stay the same and what would change under these new circumstances.”