Potsdam, 14 October 2019. The M100 Young European Journalists Workshop (M100YEJ) took place for the 15th time this year. Among the many highly qualified young journalists from Europe, the Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) and Russia, 25 participants* were finally selected to attend a diverse workshop on “Reading in the Digital World – Innovative Journalism” from 9 to 18 September 2019.
Around the globe, the media industry is going through a period of unprecedented change. The digital transformation in media organizations has made the debate about the future viability of the newspaper omnipresent. Publishers must find new and innovative ways to communicate their news content in a contemporary way. Digital developments open up new dimensions from chat apps to data journalism, VR to automation or drone journalism. The text-based model may have worked successfully in print for years, but digital journalism requires a new language and new ways of narrative construction. At the same time, a major focus on technology, platforms and algorithms could have a negative impact on the quality of content and the core task of journalism – the transmission of verifiable information. As digital transformation provides Internet users with unlimited and fast access to information, the issue of credibility also plays an increasing role. People are increasingly challenged to distinguish true information from false or disinformation.
The aim of the workshop was to develop a sound understanding of digital journalism through intensive training of experts and to use the opportunity to develop a broad network with high-ranking journalists. In addition, the possibility of developing own digital projects in groups offered the participants the opportunity to implement these projects in their home countries and thus achieve a multiplication effect for common democratic values.
On 17 September 2019, the workshop culminated in participation in the M100 Sanssouci Colloquium “From Pipedream to Reality – Democracy and the European Public Sphere”. More than 60 international media professionals were invited to Potsdam for this international media conference to discuss the development of a European public sphere.
The M100YEJ is an initiative of the City of Potsdam and Potsdam Media International e.V.. It is financed by the Federal Press Office, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation and the National Endowment for Democracy and takes place in cooperation with European Youth Press, heyfilm, MIZ Babelsberg, Telefonica, Orange Magazine and International Alumni Center.
Monday, 09 September
In order to guarantee a smooth start of the YEJ workshop, the participants were already connected via a Facebook group before the beginning of the workshop. The Facebook group provided space to clarify questions, share experiences and exchange relevant travel information so that some of the young journalists could already meet up on the plane, at the Berlin airport or in their accommodation in Berlin. On the evening of September 9, all participants finally met in person for the first time. An interactive round of introductions offered the opportunity to discuss the various professional backgrounds and home countries as well as expectations for the upcoming workshop.
Following the introduction round, a pitch session was held to motivate and inspire the participants to develop their own projects. First, documentary filmmaker Eva Stotz presented her interactive film “Field Trip”. This film deals with the past, present and future of the Berlin Tempelhof field and airport and illuminates it with the help of various portraits as a historical and current common ground. The special feature of “Field Trip” is that it establishes the first major use case of a documentary film realized entirely as an open source hypervideo.
Linda Rath-Wiggins then presented the idea of her company Vragments. Vragments is an XR company that has been producing VR and AR experiences in collaboration with editors and journalists since 2015. The VR platform Fader, a web-based product, offers journalists the possibility to produce and publish their own 360° stories quickly and easily. Vragments is currently working with the XR DOK project to build an open source VR construction kit with computer-generated, interactive templates for journalistic reporting.
Following the pitches and the Q & A session, dinner was opened and all participants were able to get in touch with the experts and other participants in individual discussions.
Tuesday, 10 September
The first training day of the YEJ workshop, which took place in the Office Spaces of Telefónica in Berlin, was dedicated to the topic “Reporting in the Digital Era”. Christoph Heymann from heyfilm gave the participants an insight into mobile reporting as well as the efficient use of social media and live streaming. The latter was regarded as preparation for the M100 Sansouci Colloquium, where the young journalists were to be in charge of the M100 social media channels.
After a round of introductions, Christoph Heymann presented the 5-shot theory, which was subsequently applied in a practical exercise. This was followed by an evaluation. Subsequently, the topic of the (camera) perspective was dealt with. An exercise aimed at understanding how different perspectives of the camera can influence how a protagonist is perceived. This awareness is of considerable importance as journalists should always strive to report as neutrally as possible.
The afternoon was dedicated to live streaming and social media. The participants were divided into three groups, which were to deal more intensively with the major platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. In view of the task of the participants to manage the M100 accounts on the day of the M100 media conference, it was necessary to identify relevant accounts. Aspects such as reach, activity level, content suitability and much more had to be considered.
Wednesday, 11 September
The morning of the second workshop day, which again took place in Berlin, began with an input from Cornelius Rahn, press officer of Telefónica. The topic of the discussion was “Journalism from a Business Perspective”. A fruitful exchange between Cornelius Rahn and the young journalists resulted in the agreement to strive for a healthy relationship between journalists and press officers.
Afterwards, the theme of the previous day (Mobile Reporting) was continued with Christoph Heymann from heyfilm. In the morning, the Twitter group prepared its presentation while the Facebook group revised its concept of the previous day. The group for Instagram evaluated the previously shot videos for Instagram stories.
After successful presentations of the findings collected during the days, some free time in the afternoon could be used for individual work on the various media projects. In addition, there were practical exercises on the topic of live streams.
Thursday, 12 September
After two days in Berlin, on Thursday and Friday the training took place in Potsdam at the Media Innovation Center (MIZ). Simon Hurtz of VOCER Millennial Lac held a workshop dealing with the topic “How digital trends shape journalism and digital tools can make our daily work better and easier”.
First and foremost, it was his enthusiasm for how great it is to be a journalist in this day and age that he wanted the young journalists to realize themselves. Though, the many upheavals that journalism is currently experiencing as a result of digitisation are accompanied by many challenges and difficulties. At the same time, technological developments offer outstanding opportunities for interacting more with readers, responding to their feedback and using key figures in the digital world.
Of course, the decline in print is a financial challenge for quality journalism. However, examples such as the New York Times and Der Spiegel show that online payment subscriptions are very successful alternative business models. Another topic that also occupies young journalists is trust and credibility of the media. In order to address this topic more concretely, various factors for the loss of trust in the media were to be identified and discussed in group work.
At last, Simon Hurtz presented useful digital tools that are of great importance in today’s journalism. These include tools to monitor trends in social media, platforms that summarize key information, and useful tools to keep data and passwords secure.
Friday, 13 September
Friday morning began – again at MIZ in Babelsberg – with an introduction to the topic “Digital Journalism: Rights and Limitations”. Olga Grygorovska from the European Court of Human Rights presented helpful information and case studies on legal issues in the age of digital journalism.
The legal basis for the work of journalists is Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects freedom of expression. Since journalists and the press in general play the important role of “public watchdog” for a functioning democratic society, journalists are particularly protected in their work.
For example, European standards stipulate that states must guarantee the independence of the media by providing the following aspects: Media pluralism, diversity in ownership and freedom from political control. Olga Grygorovska used concrete case studies to illustrate controversial cases of journalism in the digital age. Examples include questions on the right to privacy (Article 8) and the right to freedom of expression (Article 10).
On Friday afternoon, the young journalists were again given free working time for the further development of their media projects and the preparation of the pitches.
Saturday, 14 September
The YEJ workshop continued on the weekend as well. On Saturday, Dominique Roch from EMEA/ APAC Brandwatch brought the participants closer to the increasingly influential topic “The Future of AI in Media”.
In her presentation Dominique Roch first differentiated three types of artificial intelligence: Analytical AI, Human-Inspired AI and Humanized AI. Using Google’s Panda & June 2019 Core Update as an example, she then demonstrated the great influence that individual adaptations of algorithms by an internet giant such as Google can have. In this case, news websites were among the winners of the update.
Furthermore, Dominique explained which key figures can be used to measure the success of a news website. These include website traffic, traffic source, bounce rate, top page, conversion rate and conversion by traffic source.
The day was filled with a lot more input regarding AI in media and, most importantly, fruitful discussions about its value, ethical questions as well as risks.
Sunday, 15 September
Sunday was dedicated to the current state of journalism research. The journalist Dr. Alexandra Borchardt, who is currently conducting research at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford, first presented scientific findings on how the media are changing as a result of digitisation. This includes that the media develop away from the local and decentralized towards the central and global and away from the “human produced” towards the “AI produced”. The way in which media are consumed has also changed drastically. The use of smartphones has increased by 66 percent between 2013 and 2019. In addition, today only 29 percent of the media are accessed directly, much more frequently via search engines or social media, though.
Other topics on which Dr. Alexandra Borchardt brought catchy scientific findings are trust in the media and the important role of diversity in the media. Current challenges that arise against the background of these topics are the development of sustainable business models, investments in quality journalism (more investigative journalism, less clickbait), finding and promoting young talent as well as managing relationships with platform companies and the AI future.
This day also ended with a meaningful discussion in which the young journalists brought in their professional experience and provided new food for thought.
Monday, 16 September
After a whole week filled with content input, various practical exercises and enough time to develop joint digital media projects, the final day of the YEJ workshop was scheduled for Monday. The young journalists met in the morning at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom in Potsdam.
After an interesting presentation of the work of the foundation by Mrs. Andrea Nüsse, the presentations for the pitch in the afternoon had to be finalized. In a maximum of four minutes, the participants had to convince the jury of their media project. The jury consisted of Anders Mertzlufft, Head of Communication of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, Lucie Menz, Coordinator of the Bosch Alumni Network, Petra Bornhöft, Board Member of the taz Panter Foundation, and Stefan Marx, a successful entrepreneur in the field of digital media.
Eight groups, some of them individuals, finally presented their projects. At the beginning, the Girls’ Project presented its vision of a podcast for young women in different countries to educate and empower them. The group then pitched their idea of a cross-boarder podcast called “Kommunalka”, which would address current issues facing the Eastern Partnership countries and Russia. Other projects included topics such as anti-corruption in Ukraine (Alternative Media), a networking platform for young journalists (Joinalism), a Spanish version of the Financial Times (Spanish FT), drawing attention to social problems such as homelessness (Nameless humans), a networking platform for young people that encourages political or social engagement (Webties), and a platform that allows journalists to better align their topics with readers’ interests (Interaction Project).
After the pitches, the jury provided valuable feedback, questions and suggestions for further development. The event was a complete success, which was then celebrated with a dinner at the Foundation. It is quite possible that some of the projects presented will continue to be pursued after the end of the workshop and in the best case will lead to implementation.
Tuesday, 17 September
The highlight and conclusion of the M100 YEJ Workshop 2019 was the participation in the M100 Sanssouci Colloquium “From Pipedream to Reality – Media, Democracy and the European Public Sphere” on 17 September 2019. More than 60 international media professionals were invited to Potsdam for this international media conference to discuss the development of a European public sphere.
After an introductory lecture by Prof. Saskia Sassen, a well-known globalization theorist who teaches and researches at Columbia University, the famous M100 Round Table Discussions began. In Session I, “Between Amnesia and Hysteria – the State of the European Public Sphere”, the state of the European public sphere was discussed and possible ways to further develop it were pointed out. Session II, “Press Freedom Under Pressure – the Future of the European Media Ecosystem”, dealt with the topic that media freedom in Europe seems to be in danger. The discussion focused on the extent to which this is related to digitisation and what strategies exist to strengthen democratic journalism. Most recently, in Session III, “The Path Ahead: Unlocking Journalistic Innovation”, which examines the role of innovations in journalism and the question of how the framework conditions for this could be improved.
The participation of the young journalists in the international media conference M100 Sanssouci Colloquium was a special opportunity to build a network with high-ranking media and opinion makers, politicians and science representatives from Europe. Apart from covering the M100 Social Media Channels, the young journalists were invited to take part in the roundtable discussions.
The crowning event of the day was the presentation of the M100 Media Award in the evening. This year, the award honoured the Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon for her responsible and ethical stand against a Brexit. The award was also intended to express the desire for sustained close relations between Britain and the European Union in the service of the European unification process.
„Workshop for the young journalist is an opportunity to broad your horizons and meet a new creative team. For me it was a crazy mixture of amazing trainers with a huge Journalistic experience, modern techniques and classic standards. And the last but not the least advantage is a practical quality of the workshop. It’s very important for reporters because of the practical nature of our job.“
Anastasia Shkitina, Russia
„That was my first international experience, and that was wonderful! I was so excited when I learned that I would participate in the 2019 M100 workshop. During these ten days I’ve met so many interesting people, a lot of them became not only good friends but also great colleagues to continue working on our project. I left Berlin with a mix of happiness and sadness. That was strange to think about all of this ending. Still, I am reminiscing that time and want to get back.“
Danil Sapsay, Russia
“This workshop made me think faster than I’ve ever done before. To create a multicultural project is kind of impossible on your own or just with people of your nationality. M100 YEJ has broken all our borders and made us know first-hand the reality of the political situation of other countries we didn’t know much about. It has put us in contact with professionals that taught us how to develop our ideas and make real quality things with them in an age where fast communication leads.”
Laura Benedicto, Spain