Innovators welcome at Deutsche Welle’s Global Media Forum

Jul 7, 2014
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Nearly 2,500 media and communication professionals from around the world gathered at the World Conference Center in Bonn, Germany from 30 June-2 July for the Deutsche Welle’s annual Global Media Forum.

This year’s conference, “From Information to Participation: Challenges for the Media,” featured panels and workshops focused on practical approaches to adjusting industry standards and practices to meet the needs of an increasingly global audience and market.


Participants listen in on the Global Media Forum’s opening panel.


Speakers including the Deutsche Welle’s Director General Peter Limbourg, the Council of Europe’s Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland, and Egypt’s Jon Stewart-like comedian Bassem Youssef kicked off the event.

But before the conference kickoff, Ashoka, a global network of social innovators, gathered together its journalism and media fellows for a intensive, two-day summit—the Globalizer. The intimate setting provided a focused atmosphere in which the fellows were able to discuss ideas, tools, and strategies and for improving their respective participative journalism projects.

“Social innovation in journalism and the news media is especially important as information access is rapidly opening up, creating a great potential for participation, social impact, and the eventual solution of the world’s most pressing problems,” Michael Vollman, Ashoka Globalizer co-director, said.

Through its Globalizer Summits, Ashoka offers a platform for accelerated growth, where a select group of leading entrepreneurs from the private and social sectors, along with members of Ashoka’s Global Academy, support each participating fellow in intensive ‘accelerator panels’ focused on scaling social impact.

“The summits not only provide fellows with high-quality strategic advice and the opportunity to make important contacts and find new partners, but they also serve as a way to build a community of practice around scaling social impact with the potential to inspire more changemakers around the globe,” Lea-Kristin Martin, a consultant at Ashoka Globalizer, said.

Having attended last year’s Globalizer and Global Media Forum, Jeremy Druker, a four-year Ashoka fellow and executive director of Transitions, made the trip to Bonn from Prague again this year. Transitions, a Czech-based news magazine and media development NGO, works to train journalists from across the post-communist region of Europe and Eurasia. The organization is now preparing to launch its first global project, Media Defender, a crowdfunding platform to support reporters working in countries with a partially free or unfree press.

“The Globalizer was a great way to get out of our “box” and receive fresh feedback from outside experts, and you couldn’t find a better event than the GMF to find partners from all over the world for Media Defender, Druker said.”


The Media Defender team meets with media expert Jerry Timmins at the Globalizer.  


After an energizing series of brainstorming and strategizing sessions, the Ashoka fellows went on to partake in the three-day Global Media Forum program.

“Regarding the forum itself, it was inspiring to attend some of the panel discussions. I especially enjoyed a panel on social media activism, which featured an Egyptian woman who played a key role in the Arab Spring,” Druker said.

The forum participants were free to attend any of the offered panels and workshops. Topics of discussion included social vs. traditional media, ‘slacktivism’ vs. activism, civil society and media collaboration, community building and user engagement, citizen journalism, freedom of information and source protection, and other topics regarding roles of the media as catalysts for social and political change.

Deutsche Welle hosted two evening receptions and a Rhine river cruise to provide participants more informal opportunities to meet each other and share ideas.

“On the lighter side, all of us appreciated the willingness of the organizers to keep the drinks flowing and the TV screens on for the World Cup, even late into the night, creating a memorable atmosphere,” Druker said.


 Front page and body text images courtesy of Marzena Zakowska, lead media manager and strategist at Ashoka Changemakers.

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