From Information to Participation. Challenges for the Media

Thousands participants, VIP speakers, discussions, workshops, speeches and exchanging experiences – it was the base of Deutsche Welle Conference in Bonn. Participants could realize that working as a journalist is not only hard but also dangerous.

From Information to Participation. Challenges for the Media was the topic of Global Media Forum – an international conference organized by German media – Deutsche Welle from 30th June till 2nd July 2014. How does the development via the Internet look like, what are the pros and cons of cyber participation, how the situation in East Ukraine can develop in next days, how media can deal with it – these aspects were important points of the German Ministers’ speeches. The appearance of dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier (German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs) and dr. Gerd Müller (German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development) were the highlights for all participants.

What is more, one of the brightest points of the Global Media Forum was Bassem Youssef an Egyptian political satirist who from a Youtube activist became a global TV star. After the Arab Spring, the situation in Egypt is still not easy. Even though, Youssef the whole time was trying to show the people in charge of his country with a dose of humour. Unfortunately, now his TV show is cancelled because of political reasons, however, the satirist is not giving up. During his speech, Bassen Youssef said: ‘People are telling me that right now is not a good time for me. So I am answering them – give me the date. It is never a good time, so I will not stay at home’. For him – an Egyptian satirist – the dominated issue is fear. In such kind of countries you can’t be an independent, free journalist without being afraid of your life. But there is hope, hope for those ones who are fighting against the system, ‘If you are using fear to win – you will lose in the books of history and you have already lost in the hearts of people’.

Freedom of speech and security of journalists dominated most of the discussions of this year’s Global Media Forum.  ‘We are living in a crucial times. Journalists are threatened’, admitted Amy Goodman – journalist and Co-Founder of Democracy Now! from United States. There are still cases of kidnapping, keeping in prison and even killing journalists in Northern Africa, Western Asia or even Eastern Europe. Nevertheless, as Amy Goodman said: ‘We have to go where the silence is’.

European Youth4Media network was one of the guests of The Conference organized by Deutsche Welle. The chairman dr. Joachim Musholt and managing director Daria Jaranowska were delegated as speakers. They were leading one of the workshop’s discussion: ‘Turning disinterest into engagement through innovative media formats’. Joining Global Media Forum was for Daria Jaranowska an interesting experience: ‘First of all, I was really satisfied that Youth4Media received a good feedback from participants. They were interested in the topic and asking many questions. However, the most traumatic conclusion after the Conference is that the situation of journalists in some countries is extremely difficult. People want to fight for justice but even talking about it, informing others is dangerous. My heart was bleeding when I saw a young man from Egypt, awarded for the best blog, for a question: what do you wish for the future, he answered: ‘I hope that I will not go to the prison’. Even taking photos of revolution is not safe. His brother is already in prison since a couple of months and his friend has sentences too. For me personally it is unacceptable and I hope it will be changed soon’.

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