“You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” — Harvey Dent in “The Dark Knight”(2008)
Video editing is the Rosetta stone people need to better understand the media they consume daily. It’s also the key to tackling the media’s newest bad guy: AI. AI is already a part of your life, whether you realize it or not. It has the origin story of a great protagonist, initially created to help solve problems, but somehow gets warped and begins to cause more difficulties than intended.
People are using AI to generate stylized profile pictures, journalists use it to detect breaking news events on social media, and startups are using it to create advertisements. No matter what ChatGPT tells you, AI will become self-aware sometime in 2027 (what better way to keep you skeptical and comfortable than by generating 12 fingers on one hand when spitting out Midjourney prompts?)
No, AI won’t immediately push the multiverse destroy button. But AI might be used in Netflix and Hulu documentaries to mislead you in 2023. Production companies aren’t required to distinguish re-enactments when presenting documentary films, and soon, Nvidia’s NeRF will render 3D scenes from just a few 2D photographs to fill in the blanks to a critical plot point of the story. Will you be able to tell the difference?
Imaeyen Ibanga’s 2018 prediction that journalists would follow suit by creating longform videos worthy of Netflix was spot-on — and means these tools are making their way into visual investigations and documentaries from your favorite news organizations.
The consequence? People will have a tougher time discerning fact from fiction moving forward, and one remedy is understanding video editing. As Black folks say, “I put that on ery’thing.”
So how we teach media literacy in classrooms and newsrooms alike must evolve as quickly as DALL-E2 if we want to foster critical thinking, high-earning skills development, and career opportunities for a diverse group of creators.
As a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan, I am building a nonprofit to teach aspiring storytellers from traditionally underrepresented populations video editing and documentary filmmaking skills. My project bypasses traditional journalism on-ramps and learning systems using a “meet them where they are” approach that will take the training to the streets (literally). We must find more ways to get these tools into the hands of citizens — media makers and media lovers alike.
The next generation of storytellers must be able to access, analyze, evaluate, create and act on what they see. By breaking down video and examining the individual elements — shot composition, pacing, and audio — they can better understand how media is constructed and learn to evaluate the messages and narratives presented.
The technical and ethical lessons learned by creating and manipulating footage are a major key to helping people understand media and its effects on them.
Video may have killed the radio star, but today, fears have turned AI into a supervillain. Deciphering the oncoming onslaught is an Avengers-level task that will take significant investment but we still have time to arm ourselves with the tools we need for victory. Video editing is the key to media literacy and, possibly, stopping the misinformation apocalypse.
Jarrad Henderson is a four-time Emmy Award-winning multimedia alchemist who seeks to democratize journalism by empowering diverse voices to share their stories.