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Let's Champion Smart People Like Gillian Tett

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When Gillian Tett appears on TV, often BBC Newsnight, Twitter comes ablaze with Tett-tweets. A veritable blaze of Twitter sound bites that shower the former US managing editor of the Financial Times with love, praise and affection.

The warm glow of tweets praise Ms. Tett for her good looks, her manner, her endearing lisp, style and way of speaking. Sounds like a pretty normal reaction to a blond haired, blue-eyed woman in today's looks-obsessed society.

Yes but there's more to the Twitter Tett love: her admirers are drawn to her for her substance. They're drawn to her for her astute analysis of current affairs, for her raw clarity and for her fluency of ideas and concepts. Above all, they love her for her brilliant mind - for her smarts!

But this love for brains is a rarity in these modern times. In today's society the salient role models for our young people are foul-mouthed and manner-free footballers who uphold a culture that looks down with disdain upon any sort of intellectual pursuit. Other equally perverse role models are the young adults on Geordie Shore and similar shows.

These false idols shape and influence the thoughts, perceptions and tastes of our young people. The way our young people dress, the values they hold and the goals they set. But with such empty and substance-less characters leading our young people, youth culture nowadays is in stuck in some sort of race to the bottom.

A race to see who can be the crudest, the rudest, the most vacuous, acultured, unaware, uninformed and inward looking. And quite frankly because of this it's positively dangerous for any young person to show any sort of intellectual ability inside or outside the class room for fear of ridicule.

So counting our stock as we look ahead my outlook on the future of Britain's youth is pretty bearish.

But we have a solution: we need to celebrate the brains and abilities of Gillian Tett and people like her. Coincidentally in a recent article in the FT Gillian Tett called for better role models for young girls. She said: "girls need to evaluate media images on the basis of their brains, not the glossiness of their hair."

The FT regular called for fewer Rihanna posters and more of Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice and Marie Currie. And personally I couldn't agree anymore. But the irony is that Gillian Tett is exactly the sort of woman who should be adorning the walls and screens that young people stick posters onto and watch.

The former US managing editor of the salmon-hued broadsheet also floated an interesting solution: that woman need to take a stronger position in the media. If more women were behind instead of in front of the screens they could begin to change the way that women and young people are presented. After all, the media is an instrument of change and so if we have the right pilots we can shape our role models for the better.

And whilst Ms. Tett was referring solely to improving the role models of young women I believe her suggestion would exercise a broader effect that would bring about the needed changes that would up-shift the outlook of young men. The other answer is that we need reform-minded men like Gillian Tett who seek more out of life than image to be making the media decisions on what our young people are able to watch.

One last thing: someone needs to do something and get Gillian online and onto Twitter. We'd all be a lot richer intellectually and informationally for it!