The UK’s first public news bureau opened this week, part of an art project billing itself as an antidote to the current “unhealthy” news atmosphere.
Rather than professional journalists, members of the public and artists will act as reporters and correspondents.
The Rapid Response Unit Bureau (pictured) will be based in St John’s Shopping Centre, Liverpool, for one year. The project will end on 11pm on 29 March 2019, when the UK officially leaves the European Union.
It aims to offer a “dramatically different” array viewpoints on local, national and international events.
Members of the public will be asked to actively engage in the business of newsgathering and processing at the newsroom, which is open to all.
They will be offered the daily national and international papers and given access to online and rolling news and asked to respond to these stories with alternative headlines which will be shown on public rolling news tickers.
People can also deposit their own stories in a “real news bank” to which commissioned artists can respond with their own material that may be offered to national newspapers and broadcasters.
Mark Donne, RRU Bureau editor, said: “The art of politics is in decline and the news atmosphere is unhealthy to say the least, so creative, outside interventions are imperative.
“This project will question what news is and explore its full impact on us all. Toni Morrison once said that the best art is ‘unquestionably political and irrevocably beautiful at the same time’. We’d add to that: ‘in real time’.”
As part of the project, national and international artists, actors, directors, musicians and writers acting as correspondents will be given the chance to quickly respond to any news item in any form, however abstract.
Their output will be presented to the public either within a partner institution or around Liverpool itself.
Commissioned artists will also be given access to unpublished research and data from the academic and cultural institutions of Liverpool from which to draw news material.
Reflecting on the first days of the project this week, Donne said: “We’re already getting a stream of primary evidence news stories from individuals: obviously critical to this project, so we may offer them to major commissioned artists as direct news material, and also to national newspapers and broadcasters to use as they see fit.”
The project has received support from institutions including the Southbank Centre in London, Everyman and Playhouse Theatres in Liverpool and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.
Deborah Aydon, executive director of the Everyman and Playhouse Theatres, said: “This is an opportunity for a wide range of artists to respond in the moment to current events, and for that response to radiate out from Liverpool to engage a global audience.
“It will be fascinating and energising to experience our complex and rapidly changing world through a radical and creative lens.”