How can young journalists best use their voices?
Future News Worldwide brought together the best young journalists from around the world to discuss challenges and new ideas in journalism. The conference is run by the British Council in partnership with some of the world's leading media organisations and hosts renowned speakers such as Catherine Gicheru, Lucy Freeman, Carrie Gracie, David Pratt and many more.
British Council Germany was delighted to appoint the two ambitious journalists Marie Menke and Solveig Paulsen as the German delegates for the conference. Below they are sharing their experiences with us. Take a look!
Looking back on #FNW18 by Marie Menke
Being a young person in journalism or politics can be frustrating. We are often told that we need to engage with young people to prevent them from becoming desinterested in what is happened in politics and society, and we are often told that the problems we need to tackle cannot be solved by local solutions, but that we need global answers to each and every of our questions. I have often found those statements to be empty phrases still waiting to be followed by actions.
Coming back from Future News Worldwide, for the first time I feel like those problems may actually be in good hands though. I have heard professionals talk about their way into media and about what challenges they see themselves faced with on a daily basis, but I have also talked to young journalists from all over the world about what they want to change and what plans they have made so far to do so. I have begun to understand why facebook may play a different role for a personal working in e.g. India where the social network plays such an important role in social life, as well as why we are still both equally interested in learning to understand how ot use social media better. I have begun to understand why the question to what extent we can be objective can (and perhaps needs to) be answered differently depending on how far freedom of press has come in the country where you are based, as well as why it is an issue we can (and truly need to) work on together as a team across borders.
A personal highlight for me was Melissa Bell's presentation: It was incredibly refreshing to meet a journalist who is not afraid to get to know technology and work with it – who is even considered to be both a journalist and a technologist by Wikipedia. Also, the feeling, that we have not yet quite figured out how our business model is going to work online, has been around for so long, but for me she was one of the first ones to admit openly that we might not have found the right answer yet. She made me realize that the lack of trust in journalism by the public is often reflected in our own attitude towards our profession and that this is where we should begin to change the issue.
The diversity within FNW was great – not only regarding the backgrounds of the participants, but also regarding the background, working areas and genders of the speakers. There was for example Yusuf Omar, sometimes refered to as „Mister Mobile Journalism“, who sees the future of journalism entirely on social media: He has worked e.g. with CNN and the Hindustan Times to teach journalists how to use their phones to create content. Melissa Bell on the contrary mentioned that she does not find it necessary to require journalists to be active on social media. Personally, I consider it dangerous for any journalist to become dependent on big tech companies and their algorithms and ways of working, which is why I found it important for us to be introduced to both perspectives.
Another workshop which illustrated quite well how diverse the different presentations and workshops offered were is the one hosted by Google: Even though many of us use Google on a daily basis, there is more than only one way to search for information on Google. Getting to know how e.g. the reverse image search works can be a huge advantage for future research. Also, with multimedia storytelling becoming more and more useful, it was amazing to get to know all the different ways Google and their tools can be incorporated into our own stories.
Last but not least, I arrived at FNW with the aim to figure out in which direction I would like to go within journalism, but I came back knowing that journalism needs to be defined so much more broadly than we often do. Melissa Bell, considered a technologist, may hardly ever write a piece, but still she is a journalist. Catherin Gicheru has set up a website where people from Kenya can verify whether or not their doctor is actually certified: This is not the stereotypical „daily newspaper journalist“ we often think about when picturing a typical journalist, but still it's such an important part of informing the public to make better decisions in life.
While they speakers were amazing, so were the participants. It might not be possible to get to know more than 100 journalists within two days, but by and by I came to remember more and more names, backgrounds and stories. As another delegate already said during one of the panels, there was such a keen interest in every single person: You were never just asked from which country you were, but from which city, from which university and from which media outlet. What we had to tell might be different, but eventually we all knew that in what we wanted to change in the world we were so much more alike than different.
Between workshops, panels and presentations as well as during the two days after the conference, we had time left not only to discover Edinburgh and its surroundings, but also to get to know each other better. I have never before gone hiking with a group of young people from three different continents, but it has been an amazing perspectives. Once again, I noticed how important it is to learn foreign languages, even though we may all be able to communicate in English: It makes such a difference to be able to get to know another person in his or her native language. We have had great talks and a great time discovering Scotland.
That is why I came home from Edinburgh not only with a booklet full of notes and inspirations, but with lots of new phone numbers which I will call as well as Twitter and Facebook contacts which I will write to if I need information from any other part of the world. If there is one thing which I now know for sure, it's that we don't only need to tackle global challenges together, but that we have created ways and channels to actually be able to work together and rely on one another.
- Marie Menke