Orwell’s 1984 and Journalism 2017: “Talk of Iowa”

Photo by Charity Nebbe, Talk of Iowa


For Michael Bugeja, director and professor of Iowa State University’s Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, his concern lies with seeing the Orwellian ideas of “doublethink” and “Newspeak” in today’s society.

“Doublethink is the ability, according to Orwell in the book, to hold two contradictory ideas in one’s mind simultaneously. That’s what’s going on in many corners of the media right now,” Bugeja says. “We do make a distinction at the Greenlee School between media, which is everything – social networks, newspapers, television – and journalism, which is the practice of disseminating, to audience, fact and analysis. And 1984 does speak quite eloquently about this.”

Newspeak is the language of the regime in 1984. It consists of restricted grammar and limited vocabulary, a linguistic design meant to limit the freedom of thought and self-expression.

“I’m seeing a lot of Newspeak in the texting that goes on, and in the lack of reading,” says Bugeja. “Nearly a quarter of American adults had not read a single book in the past year, and the number of non-book readers has nearly tripled since 1978…So what we’re losing by not reading of course is the ability to think critically.”

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