European Media Seminar 2018: a view of an “outsider”

, by Veronika Snoj

All the versions of this article: [Deutsch] [English]

European Media Seminar 2018: a view of an “outsider”
Photograph: Domi Winkler, and organised a media seminar in Berlin. In the following paragraphs, you can read about the event through the eyes of a JEF outsider.

Before February of this year, I have only heard of the JEF community. But then, one of its members invited me to apply for the European Media Seminar, which was held this year for the third time in a row. I hesitated a bit as I was not very acquainted with the organisation, but in the end, my journalistic interests prevailed. I applied for it and was eventually selected to participate. There was nothing left to me but to take a bus in Ljubljana on April 26th, to arrive the next morning to the German capital and to be warmly welcomed by the sunny day in Berlin.

A true small-scaled European melting pot

I met the organisers and other participants at the hostel (which has still the form of the former fire station), or better said, chilling in the courtyard. Although we were less than thirty altogether, Europe was fairly enough represented in most of its richness: the participants came from France, Germany, Macedonia, Lithuania, Italy, Malta, Poland, the UK. (My humble self was the Slovene “delegate”). Mostly everybody resembled the European project with living, studying or working in another country than his or her place of birth.

Our visit to Deutsche Welle

After a welcome and a brief introduction to the seminar, we headed for the headquarters of Deutsche Welle in Berlin, Germany’s public international broadcaster and an equivalent to UK’s BBC World Service. There we had the opportunity not only to see its freshly built and still not fully occupied headquarters but also to meet the team behind Conflict Zone, a Deutsche Welle program in which the veteran TV journalist Tim Sebastian interviews politicians and other influential figures around the world. He interviews them in the tradition of the HARDtalk interviews he led on the BBC - he confronts them with their own words, sometimes even up to a point when the interviewee literally runs away from him. Monika Martin, Martin Gak (both editors and producers) and Caroline Schmitt (social media editor) told us about the nature of their job behind the scenes of the show, which of course demands a lot of effective research, unexpected long hours and travelling to very different destinations.

We finished our first day of the seminar with a treat: we enjoyed in a truly European (read: Alsatian) dish: tarte flambée, which gave us the energy to chat long into the night.

Blindness and ignorance

Saturday was the day everybody was expecting with excitement as it was the day of the workshops. Very different in nature, they covered almost all crucial parts of modern-day media, from interviews and podcasts to online communication.

A seminar organized by JEF, of course, could not go by without a workshop with an EU taste: and that was when the workshop “Communication with EU institutions” came in. All the workshops were meant to equip us with tools which would help us cover the European Parliament election 2019 in the more and more growing and linguistically diverse web of JEF’s magazines. Personally, I attended the workshop under the name “Online communications”, at which I was for the first time confronted with the creation of infographics and some more in-depth knowledge of using Twitter.

Dr. Maria Skóra giving a speech at the European Media Seminar. Photo: Domi Winkler

In the afternoon, we welcomed a visitor at our fire station. Dr. Maria Skóra came to greet us from a Berlin-based think thank Das Progressive Zentrum and gave us an engaging speech on democracy and how to defend it. She summed up five crucial points we should follow if we want the democracy to flourish, and these were:

1. Speak out when you see injustice 2. Vote 3. Hold elected politicians accountable 4. Respect minorities as you can maybe one day end up in one 5. Care for high-quality journalism.

Her speech opened a lively discussion, in which subjects such as media literacy, blindness and ignorance were opened. Who is actually ignorant in our European society and who blinds him or herself before the actual reality? Are we, more “progressive”-thinking Europeans really so open-minded and on board with what is going on around us? Our discussion continued long into the evening, eventually moving out from under the fire station roof to the open Berlin sky.

Election coverage start: ASAP

Sunday was the final day of our weekend seminar. With new knowledge we gained in the workshops, we gathered to think about the coverage of the next year’s EP elections in JEF’s magazines. We ended up discussing some very innovative ideas - you should be able to see them realised in the magazines quite soon, as we were unanimous on the date of starting covering the upcoming elections: as soon as possible!

Being an outsider, I of course could not avoid being recruited at some point for contributing to the magazines. Honestly, I suspect that in a very foreseeable future I will no longer be able to label myself as an “outsider” to this project.

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