Advancing media freedoms despite COVID-19: M100 to be held as a digital conference/M100 Media Award in the Raffael Hall

Potsdam, 1 September 2020. On September 17,  a host of chief editors, policymakers and academic experts will convene under the header of “NEUSTART: Shaping the Post-Covid Media Order” to discuss the impact of the coronavirus crisis on journalism, media freedoms and democracy in Europe at the international media conference M100 Sanssouci Colloquium. This year’s hybrid conference will take stock of the role journalism has played and its performance throughout the pandemic. Above all, however, it will explore the question of what tools of public debate will impact the societies of tomorrow – and what we can do today to shape them.

The M100 Sanssouci Colloquium, a leading international media conference on democracy and press freedoms, will for most participants involve virtual participation this year: At the Villa Arnim in Potsdam, nearly 100 M100 participants from around the world will interact virtually at high-profile discussion groups.

The conference will close with the celebratory presentation of the M100 Media Award, which will be broadcast live on YouTube and take place in accordance with all public health and social distancing regulations at the Orangery Palace’s Raffael Hall in Sanssouci. As a European media prize, the award honors each year an individual who has left their mark on Europe and the world.

“Given all the uncertainties associated with the coronavirus and its consequences, it was important for us to conduct M100 as a forum for analysis, ahead-of-the-game thinking and debate on media freedoms and democracy. We are very pleased to have found an innovative solution,” said Chair of the M100 Advisory Board and Lord Mayor of Potsdam Mike Schubert.

“COVID-19 marks a historic turning point. We cannot carry on with ‘business as usual’ – that much is certain. This is true of media and journalism as well, both of which have once again proven just how important they are while being broadsided by the economic effects of the pandemic,” emphasizes Advisory Board Member Leonard Novy (Institute for Media and Communications Policy), who is curating the expert dialogue.

For this year’s conference, the organizers aim to bring the exchange of views among leading media figures, experts, politicians and decision-makers that has been held annually since 2005 to the digital realm. Participants will develop virtually scenarios and strategies for securing a pluralistic, independent and resilient media system.

The conference will be opened by Minister President of Brandenburg Dietmar Woidke and Lord Mayor of Potsdam Mike Schubert, and the following individuals have confirmed their participation in the event: Timothy Garton Ash, Professor of European Studies at Oxford University, U.S. activist and journalist Cory Doctorow, Russian-American author Masha Gessen, Jim Egan, Chief Executive Officer of BBC Global News, Matthew Kaminski, Editor-in-Chief of POLITICO, Tanit Koch, Editor-in-Chief of the Central Editorial Office of the Media Group RTL, Dunja Mijatovic, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, political scientist Yascha Mounk, Associate Professor of the Practice of International Affairs, Johns Hopkins University, the former CDU Secretary-General Ruprecht Polenz, and the publicist and former Pirate Party politician Marina Weisband.

The M100 Young European Journalists Workshop is being held once again from August 27 through September 17. The workshop provides a forum for young journalists from across Europe to meet and explore the future of journalism in a globalized world under the theme of “The local-global nexus: Exploring new strategies for local journalism in the post-Covid era.”

Corona-related restrictions, which include a limit to the number of participants and strict adherence to social-distancing rules, will apply throughout the event. M100 is working closely with the city of Potsdam and local healthcare facilities in this regard.

As an initiative of Potsdam Media International e.V., M100  is held in conceptual cooperation with the Institute for Media and Communications Policy and is sponsored primarily by the state capital Potsdam. Other sponsors include the Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, the Land Brandenburg, as well as Germany’s Federal Foreign Office and its Federal Press Office. Cooperation partners include the Stiftung Preussische Schlösser und Gärten, Reporters Without Borders and the German Newspaper Publishers Association.