Traditional news has become increasingly disappointing over the past 5 to 10 years. Not just the content, but the quality and presentation. News organisations have suffered from cuts to staffing levels, news is 60/24/7. It changes by the minute, not the hour. Notifications hit your phone throughout the day, and when you flick on the TV news or read the paper you have a sense that you’ve (sort of) read it all before.

A few bright spots would occasionally shine through in the form of long reads. One such bright spot has been the emergence of Tortoise.

News when it’s ready.

Tortoise is about in-depth reporting and analysis of stories that may or may not have already been in the mainstream press. It’s interesting, challenging and stimulating. Join and enjoy the reading.

So when they advertised a ThinkIn (live, unscripted conversations where we harness the diverse experience and expertise of our members to shape the way we see the world) in Bristol on ‘Can we invent our way to Net Zero?’ I thought I’d go along.

A ThinkIn involves a Tortoise Editor host who starts the Tortoise icon on it’s hour long slide across the big screen, and invites comments (not questions) from the audience and occasionally a small panel of four invited experts. The panelists were interesting but real expertise comes in the niche but fabulously in-depth experience of the audience members.

For example on my left sat a dairy farmer ‘with 20 years of remission’, who could explain the wastage in breeding dairy herds that don’t get used for beef simply because of the look of the meat. Another expert, this time on the panel, was Kirsty Salmon, Head of BioFuels at BP.

Kirsty’s presence was probably entirely down to the fact that BP were funding the series of ThinkIns, but that didn’t spare her any of the questioning, relevant or not.

BP’s involvement was interesting. They were always going to come in for some criticism, some justified, some irrelevant, but it didn’t feel at all like they were being promoted, protected or creating a greenwash. Sure there was mention of their recent change in strategy towards net zero and alternative energy sources, and some scepticism of it. Unfounded scepticism in my view. The UK has announced a ban on sales of fossil fuel powered cars from 2035. Other countries will follow. Sales of fossil fuels are going to plummet. BP, and other fossil fuel companies don’t have long to change if they are to remain relevant.

The format worked. It was stimulating. It made you think even if it provided no immediate answers. It was useful even if it didn’t come to any conclusions.

I think I’ll go to another one.

Categories: Engagement