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What do you think?

Friday 11 June 2021

Member voices are essential to developing our journalism here at Tortoise. We asked you about some of the issues currently on our minds – here’s what you had to say


How do we report on poor disability representation in the FTSE?

We asked how Tortoise might respond to the fact that none of the FTSE CEOs have disclosed a disability (although some have opted for “prefer not to say”). Your responses made it clear that the CEO statistic isn’t the point. Indeed, several members wrote to us with real, personal experiences of hypocrisy and discriminatory practices in large companies, many of which claim to be vanguards of inclusion.

We will build on those stories as we continue to report on the gap between the “walk” and the “talk” that is the backbone of the Responsibility 100 Index and the Disability 100 Report. 

“Thanks to BLM there is now widespread acceptance of the fact that racism is a white problem. In the same way, prejudice against the disabled is a ‘normal’ people’s problem. It’s just plain wrong for those who are affected by disability to be outed, and thus branded cowardly liars, due to the shortcomings of the general public. Let’s ask disabled people how best we can support their empowerment and then keep listening. My mother would have used her air time to lobby for more dips in the pavement.”

Carey McKenzie

“I’d ask the question does it matter? There is a huge problem with unseen disability. […] So the question is, as disabilities come in many forms, most not visible, would simply declaring it make any difference whatsoever or do they have to be visible to engender the notion of inclusivity?”

Paul Atherton

The death of the death of the Left

We’re grappling with “difficult second album” syndrome as we figure out how to follow the first ThinkIn with James Harding podcast series on The Battle for Truth. We were right to hesitate over our initial idea, which we’d called “the death of the Left” and, thanks to your input, we’re working to reframe the series as a broader conversation about the search for fairness, rather than one about political strategy, semantics and the process of democracy.

“On ‘the death of the left’, please don’t fall into that neoliberal media rabbit hole. Please look at grassroots, mutual aid, and the slaughter of institutions with cooperative origins. Please, please, please avoid binaries.”

Ros Thomas

“Maybe a better binary would be political thinking that focuses on impact (and policy follows) or political thinking that focuses on policy (and impact may or may not result). My son would abandon political parties altogether and have people select priority impact or priority policy. A sort of pick and mix approach to voting. We don’t shop in a way that says because I like bananas I have to take all the other stuff that happens to be in that basket.”

John Drummond

“I think it’s the theoretical concept of socialism that is dying rather than that of the Left. Parties of the so-called left are leaving behind the concept starting with Blairite support for [Anthony] Giddens’ The Third Way. The introduction of ‘the market’ as an economic tool to manage national finances may have been a pragmatic idea but there was a misunderstanding of the power of the market to swallow things whole, not work in partnership. The only places capital held back are public sectors where profits are marginal (e.g. social care, mental health care). Of course the financial crash didn’t help, but I consider Labour held up the wrong parts – shoring up banks was less effective and more damaging to collective community provision.

“Since then, technological change has almost destroyed the idea of collective economic models with ownership of ‘the means of production’ becoming so fragmented and hidden it cannot gather together a coherent vocal role. Hence socialism has lost any impact as an idea. Thatcherite individualism has become more powerful. There is, in my opinion, a need for a stronger coalition around issues that communities can be united about: environment, community space, welfare provision, housing and crime.”

Judy Smith

“I think the most interesting thing is going to be the realignment around who is defined as the underdog to be helped. The progressive drive to help the underdog has lost its focus and is losing energy because it has jumped the shark. Conservatives are now more in tune with the underclass among us because it has little to do with race or ethnicity or gender – it remains socio-economic in nature.”

Robert McNish


How can Tortoise cover gaming in a way that appeals to gamers and non-gamers alike?

The question about gaming elicited the most, and most extensive, replies. So I spoke to Pete Hoskin, our executive editor and a professional gaming nerd, about what we might do. What’s clear, he said, is that we have to do something – and that, judging from the responses, we should probably start with something about the boundless potential of games, rather than coming at the medium to knock it down. Look out for a Slow View soon. That said, Pete also reckons that it’s important to eventually highlight some of the problems of the gaming industry – from representation in workplaces to the development “crunch” highlighted in Jason Schreier’s fine book Blood, Sweat and Pixels – because it’s an industry that needs to change as it matures from adolescence to adulthood.   

“… is there a democratic fall-out when so many young-people (predominantly male) disconnect from real life and emotionally simulate living (especially as hunters, on one-man missions against an enemy world)? How does the slow and broad of democracy speak to the immediate and personal of gaming, in terms of the disenfranchised?”

Abigail Dunn

“Having been a part-time video gamer for 30 years, I’d love there to be a series that explores the positive impacts on people and society. 90 per cent of all articles written by non-gamers are still about the risks, the social damage, the ‘is it good for us?’. The skills video games teach – focus, teamwork, reaction, resilience, problem solving – are crucial in adult life and often not taught in schools. More than that, they’re just a perfect mindful escapism in a world that’s becoming increasingly frantic. More social than a book, more interactive than a film, more beneficial than all social media. I’m fairly sure they’re good for older people too to stave off things like dementia, and wonder what happens when our Playstation generation (I’m 39) reaches retirement. Do we while away our time playing GTA 8 on an Oculus Rift, a la San Junipero?”

John Sills

“A fascinating angle I think is how video gaming is part of everyday lives – for all of us! E.g. gamification in education to motivate and incentivise learning, fitness and weight loss, investment, loyalty and reward schemes etc etc. Many people may see themselves as anti or non video game players – but it’s seeped into their lives. Does this matter? Should the public be better informed about risks of ‘being played’ and possibly exploited, and do we all need to understand how gamification principles work? What is an informed citizen when it comes to video gaming?”

Toni Fazaeli

“I have a massive interest in all things video gaming. I’d love to hear more about the insidious nature of Animal Crossing as a marketing tool and advertising creep into all gaming. The emotional engine behind The Last Of Us (brilliantly elucidated to in the V&A Video Games Exhibition Design/Play/Disrupt) and how that could impact human behaviour in a variety of mediums. How video games could be used to teach… history being a classic (thinking of course of the Assassin’s Creed series here). Will video games watching become the new football viewing experience now players are being paid millions and Fulham’s Gfinity Video Arena is garnering more attention? And the future of immersive gaming, where it could take us and where it shouldn’t.”

Paul Atherton

Now, what do you think about these?

Members’ voices have always been a big part of Tortoise journalism, but we’ve not always made it clear how and why (beyond what you’re saying in ThinkIns of course). So we’d like to continue this conversation, via questions and responses, and hopefully you’ll soon start to join the dots and see how your input shapes the podcasts, ThinkIns and Slow Views. 

What to do about schools? 

With Sam Freedman’s and Soma Sara’s Slow Views this week, the Education Summit next week and a further ThinkIn later in June on the case for declaring a “National Education Emergency”, it’s obvious that the fate of school children, and the state of schools, is very much on our minds. Despite lots of stimulating, and often sobering, conversations, we have struggled to land a schools-based story that has the impact that our reporting on sexual harassment on University campuses did. Can you help? What’s the school story that really needs investigation?

Science under attack?

The future of humanity could come down to three things: silicon, carbon and DNA. There’s nothing like an unprecedented global public health emergency to thrust “science” into the spotlight. It feels as though we’re reconsidering our relationship with “science” as it comes out of the labs and into our living rooms. We’ve been mulling the impact of social media on science; the peer review system; the effect of bad science on public trust, and the truth about “experimental” science. These are big questions. Would a series of ThinkIns on how we’re reconsidering our relationship with science grab you? 

And if you don’t quite have time to dig into those, it’ll take less than a minute to answer these few quick questions to help us gauge the mood of our members on a couple of live news stories. (We’re tempted to call them “hare-brained” questions, but perhaps that’s a pun too far?)

Illustration by Waldemar Stepien