Journalist Michael Buerk hit out at the dark side of social media when he gave the Sir Douglas Glover Memorial Lecture at the Richard Whiteley Theatre.
The veteran broadcaster and newsreader bemoaned the rise of fake news and the role of Facebook and other social media platforms in creating what he saw as a false reality where nobody was acting as gatekeeper for the authenticity and accuracy of information.
In a speech which was intended to spark debate, Michael warned our sixth formers present to be aware of the flip side to technological progress and gave a witty and passionate commentary of how the world had changed in his lifetime, questioning whether change was always for the best.
In a romp through a range of topics, Michael highlighted his misgivings on modern art, reality TV, American gun laws and changing news values.
Michael said “I am a grumpy old man. I say these things to start an argument or a conversation.”
In a question and answer session at the end, our students and invited guests quizzed Michael on aspects of his lecture.
The lectures are funded by a bequest from former pupil Sir Douglas Glover, who was a Conservative MP for 17 years, chairman of the Conservative Party and served in the Army during World War II. It was his wish to enable the school to attract the best leaders in their fields to speak to the pupils in order to inspire them. . Past lecturers have included Sir Alex Ferguson, Kate Adie, Chris Patten and Lord Bragg.
Headmaster, Mr Turnbull said “It was an absolute pleasure to welcome one of the UK’s foremost broadcast journalists to Giggleswick. Michael’s lecture was beautifully written, touching on such a wide range of areas and delivered with warmth, humour and humility. Entertaining, intellectually reflective and sometimes provocative, his objective was principally to 'start a conversation' about issues that should carry weight and value within our society.”
Michael Buerk is best known as a presenter of the BBC Ten O’Clock News and the journalist who broke the story of the Ethiopian famine in 1984/5, bringing the tragedy to the attention of billions worldwide and leading to the Band Aid and Live Aid fundraising efforts. Well over a million lives were saved as a result of the international relief effort.
He has won many awards for his reporting and has been a constant presence throughout a number of news events such as BBC1’s millennium night coverage, the eclipse and royal weddings. He has presented BBC Radio 4’s The Moral Maze since 1990. He is also a former contestant on ITV’s ‘Im A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here’.