Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Information Power in Crises

Nik Gowing, BBC World News, will speak on "Skyful of Lies and Black Swans: Who Controls Shifting Information Power in Crises?" at the Australian National University in Canberra, 5pm, 12 August 2014.
The public information space has been turned on its head. But few at the highest levels of power are willing to realise that its new capacity to disrupt threatens their reputation or brand. There is a reluctance to learn from the destabilising experiences of others in multiple fields and locations. This presentation and discussion focus on the new executive fragilities and policy implications for government ministers, civil servants, defence and security agencies plus corporate institutions and NGO’s from the new matrix of real-time information flows and transparency created especially by the explosion of social media. The new digital connectivity and IT realities are disruptive game changers. They challenge mercilessly the inadequacy of the structures of power to respond both with effective impact and in a timely way.

As vulnerabilities increase, mindsets and systemic behaviour lag behind these new realities. After BP’s Gulf of Mexico disaster, the Japan earthquake catastrophe and nuclear disaster, terror attacks and natural disasters, plus Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Ukraine and multiple concerns about the stability of other regimes, Nik Gowing, main presenter for BBC World News, presents an overview and update on the implications for power of his peer-reviewed Skyful of Lies analysis. The professional implications are vital leadership issues. Governments, public servants or security officials plus commanders and corporate executives must understand how to embrace effectively the new realities of today's media and public information space. It is far broader and more multi-dimensional, than the vast majority are prepared to realise, let alone concede. Yet it challenges all the conventional assumptions about the nature of power.

Biography: Nik Gowing has been a main presenter for the BBC’s international 24-hour news channel BBC World News, since 1996. He has presented The Hub with Nik Gowing, BBC World Debates, Dateline London , plus location coverage of major global stories. For 18 years he worked at ITN where he was bureau chief in Rome and Warsaw, and Diplomatic Editor for Channel Four News (1988-1996). He has been a member of the councils of Chatham House (1998–2004), the Royal United Services Institute (2005–present), and the Overseas Development Institute (2007-2014), the board of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy including vice chair (1996-2005), and the advisory council at Wilton Park (1998-2012 ). In 1994 he was a fellow at the Joan Shorenstein Barone Center in the J. F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Nik has extensive reporting experience over three decades in diplomacy, defence and international security. He also has a much sought-after analytical expertise on the failures to manage information in the new transparent environments of conflicts, crises, emergencies and times of tension. His peer-reviewed study at Oxford University is “Skyful of Lies and Black Swans”. It predicts and identifies the new vulnerability, fragility and brittleness of institutional power in the new all-pervasive public information space. It can be downloaded free online after registration. Nic was awarded an honorary doctorate by Exeter University in 2012 for both his cutting edge study and distinguished career in international journalism. He has just been appointed a Visiting Professor at Kings College, London.

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