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#28 Be. Leadership August 2015 - Mass media has a significant force that reflects and constructs modern culture

by Juliana Carvalho

I am sipping "leadership juice" while I write about the sixth session of Be. Leadership 2015. Because you know, in vino veritas ("in wine there is truth.") And truth is (or was?) a key part of the communication business.

Our preparation for this session included taking note of the places we go for news and information. I need to confess that I was a bit shocked with myself when I realised that my news comes mainly from Facebook. I go there to check how many likes my last picture has received and then I end up clicking on links that my friends have posted and sometimes clicking on paid links.

We were also asked to think how we develop and test our thinking. Here’s another confession: I am still struggling with this task!

The fact is that mass media (communication that reaches a large audience) has a huge influence in modern culture and our daily lives. The messages largely broadcasted promote not only products and behaviours, but also the sense of what is important or not (for example. the NZ flag vs TPPA ). To be aware that mass media plays a huge role in the leadership space was the aim of our sixth encounter.

The setting for the first day of our session was the Westpac building (thanks Tonya!). As a visitor, I was impressed with the level of security to access the building. It is a mission to get into the premises, a bit like what you would see in sci-fi movies.

Our first speaker was Simon Tong, Managing Director of Fairfax Media since September 2013. Interestingly, Simon has a long career in the information technology industry, and his shift to the communication business proves that leadership skills are transferable (or is it a hint that technology is transforming communications?).

He spoke about the role of the media in shaping, informing and forming public opinion. He shared quite striking and thought provoking information: thefuture challenges and opportunities for journalism and story telling, the immediacy of story telling, the fact that now often the public breaks the news and then the media follows up the stories, the "bubble" with personalised content, and so on.

Yep, we are facing a fast-paced revolution. Technology and social media are right now redesigning how we produce and consume information.

After Simon’s session we ruminated on our mid-year reflections and feedback from Lesley and Philip. We then we had the privilege to hear from several fellow participants about their dreams, plans and expectations in the "My future" session.

Our second day was at one of our favourite venues, Sudima Hotel. Back on familiar ground, we started the day with a media analysis workshop. It was an invitation to think further about how the media tells stories, the importance of information verification and how to develop our critical thinking.

Then was time to watch the beautiful documentary To. Be. Me., which tells the Be. Accessible story since the beginning, followed by a great discussion with Minnie Baragwanath and Qiujing Wong. I was interested in how they are strategically using communication tools to build positive social change. And we were introduced to the second part of the Be. Campaign, which will be launched on 7 November. I can't wait to help spread the word!

We ended up our day with more reflection, finishing with a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, generously shared by Tonya:

"What counts in the long run is not what you read; it is what you sift through your own mind; it is the ideas and impressions that are aroused in you by your reading. It is the ideas stirred in your own mind, the ideas which are a reflection of your own thinking which makes you an interesting person."