Taking Stock of the World Media – A Recap of the Global Media Forum

August 27, 2015

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By Kai Prager, Senior Media Relations Specialist – Frankfurt

In crisis situations around the world, the media has an undeniable impact on perception of events. It also shapes public opinion and can even manage to influence political decision makers. With the help of the internet, media access has multiplied and more and more platforms now vie for our attention. It made sense, then, that the topic of this year’s Global Media Forum, hosted by Deutsche Welle, was “Media and Foreign Policy in the Digital Age.” About 2,000 journalists and media workers came from more than 100 countries to take part in the discussions and workshops in Germany’s former capital Bonn.

Participant looking at the Plenary Chamber - Photo by Kai Prager

Participant looking at the Plenary Chamber – Photo by Kai Prager

Many presentations noted that the internet, with its vast platforms of social media, blogs, news sites, etc., has radically changed the media landscape by enabling anyone to participate and creating a demand for speed of information. But the demand for speed also puts pressure on traditional media. This was not lost on Andreas Zumach, a journalist with German paper Die Tageszeitung.

“We have a rat race to see who is first with the most spectacular news,” Zumach said. “That makes it difficult for journalists who cover the efforts to de-escalate or even solve the conflict at a diplomatic level to get coverage.”

Asiem El Difraoui, a researcher for the Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris, stated, “We run after the news … we don’t do permanent coverage of places which are still potentially dangerous and might explode from one minute to the next.” El Difraoui also lamented that a lot of media reduce its foreign coverage and are later surprised by the consequences. “People are much more interested in what is happening in foreign countries than what we give them credit for.”

Dana Asaad and Asiem El Difraoui - Photo by Kai Prager

Dana Asaad and Asiem El Difraoui – Photo by Kai Prager

At this international forum, the situation of foreign countries was discussed on many levels. It was mentioned that, often, media of countries in transition are not as advanced as media in more developed countries, and this often causes problems. The main problems that were visited and revisited were the lack of quality journalism due to poor training and funding; no freedom of the press; usage of media for propaganda and misinformation; and no access to information.

An example for this problem was shared by Dana Asaad, Editor-in-Chief of Awene.com, who said that a lack of well-trained journalists contributes to the continued conflict in Iraq.

“It’s obvious that covering a post-conflict [Iraq] … we need to have qualified people,” Assad said. “Before 2003, we had few media outlets – you could count them on your hand – and it was the media of the Baathist regime. One color, one opinion, one ideology.  After 2003, suddenly, hundreds of media outlets came out. Every single political party and every single official had its own media. … but we didn’t have journalists.” Asaad continued, “Journalism became the job for jobless people. You fill all those media outlets with people who have no journalism background and they know nothing about the ethics of journalism and those people started to cover the post-conflict time.”

There was also a discussion about propaganda in political reporting within the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Ukrainian journalist Yevhen Fedchenko explained that propaganda tools to promote the government’s message are mainly implemented by Russia to change, omit or manipulate facts. In contrast, the Ukrainian government doesn’t have the same means to promote its propaganda though the media. Instead, news outlets started to target different groups and usually don’t keep up journalistic standards.

Many speakers mentioned problems with authoritarian governments that try to stop unwanted reporting. Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was honored with the Freedom of Speech award at the annual prize competition The Bobs (Best of Online Activism).  In his ceremonial speech, Editor-in-Chief of zeit.de, Jochen Wegner, said the ceremony was “among the most bitter, for Raif Badawi cannot be with us today.” Badawi is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence in Saudi Arabia for criticizing senior religious figures online.

Jochen Wegner holds his ceremonial speech - Photo by Kai Prager

Jochen Wegner holds his ceremonial speech – Photo by Kai Prager

After three days of discussions and workshops, it became clear that media professionals need to band together and work together on a worldwide basis. The Global Media Forum served as a jumping off point for this type of comradery and coordination, and hopes to continue foster international journalistic cooperation into the future.


Journalism Technology and the Canadian Media – A Game of Give and Take

August 12, 2015

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By Jean-Adrien Delicano, Media Relations Specialist – Canada

In June, I attended the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) annual conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The CAJ conference is generally considered the largest gathering of Canadian journalists during the year and offers journalists a place to exchange ideas, tools and a few laughs.

Halifax

Halifax

The conference covered a lot of subjects regarding the state of journalism. Speakers held panels about ethics, investigative journalism, different types of reporting and tips on how to succeed as a journalist today.

One particular subject that dominated the conference was the role of technology in journalism. These days, technology goes hand-in-hand with just about everything in our lives, be that organizing our days, facilitating tasks or providing entertainment. Technological advancements have also played a big role in improving news gathering, production and consumption. These new tools for journalists range from drones with cameras designed to capture images from different vantage points, to web programs that intend to protect the identity of sources.

Trevor Adams, editor of the local city and lifestyle publication Halifax Magazine, agrees with the notion that technology improves journalism. That said, there can be pitfalls that may come as a result of technological advancements.

“Many of the technologies referred to are becoming essential tools for journalists and it was good to learn more about them,” Adams says. “However, as other sessions discussed, these technologies also have the potential for great intrusion on personal privacy. I was pleased the conference covered both sides of the issue.”

Nick Taylor-Vaisey, current president of the CAJ and moderator at the conference this year, agrees that new technology has benefited modern newsrooms. But he also says there is risk involved when trying out the latest and greatest gadgets and apps.

Nick Taylor-Vaisey

Nick Taylor-Vaisey

“Many of journalism’s technologically driven projects are experiments. That’s important, because it demonstrates that newsrooms can innovate and try things out with no guarantee of success,” Taylor-Vaisey says. “Of course, that latter bit is also important to note: Not every experiment works as intended or delivers what was expected.

“One of the enduring themes of CAJ 2015 was that we brought together innovators who know what works and who could pass on some of that knowledge to their peers,” he continued. “Those delegates all return to newsrooms that are stronger for that learning.”

Topics regarding technology in journalism covered at the conference included:

Using drones for news gathering: Drones can be used to capture captivating footage for news stories from a perspective that has not always been available to everyday people until recently. Drone journalism is an emerging field in the industry, and soon it will be a useful tool for journalists. While drone journalism has been prominent in other countries around the world, the issue of safety and ethics has affected the use of drones for news reporting in Canada.

Data journalism: Math and numbers may scare off some journalists, but they can also help them find stories buried in the data. Spreadsheets and analytics can be used to discover trends, predict possible future results or further verify facts. Recently, Canadian journalism schools have begun to offer more data journalism classes, as young journalists are seeing the value in stories underneath the statistics.

Covering your online tracks: In this age of digital surveillance, the safety of your sources, and perhaps even yourself, can depend on an ability to cover your tracks online. With threats posed by hackers and the NSA, your privacy may be compromised during the chase for a great story. A CAJ panel brought up some tools and tips that can help journalists protect their sources and secure their own safety.

Photo and video journalism right in the palm of your hand: Journalists once had to rely on heavy, expensive and intrusive technology in order to capture photos and videos for their stories. Today, journalists can use their handheld, pocketable smartphones to capture photos and videos in ways not possible as recent as a decade ago, improving the speed and accuracy of modern news reporting. The CAJ Conference featured panels that discussed how to take advantage of mobile technology when it comes to photo journalism, and how to verify that what we see is true in the age of speedy and citizen journalism.


Armenian Media Today: Q&A with Gegham Vardanyan

July 13, 2015

By Kai Prager, Senior Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire Frankfurt

Armenia is a country with an ancient cultural heritage that once reached from the Mediterranean to the Caspian Sea. It also was the first country to adopt Christianity in 301 AD.

To strengthen the statehood and instructing the people in the news religion, the Armenian alphabet was introduced around 405 AD by Mesrop Mashtots and the first media was produced Many of these old scripts still exist and are collected in the Matenadaran, the repository of ancient manuscripts in Armenia’s capital, Yerevan.

Detail of the portal of the Matenadaran. Photo by Rabirius.

The first Armenian printing establishment was founded in Venice in 1565 and focused on religious texts; it was later moved to Istanbul. The first newspaper was published in Madras, India, in 1646, but it took another 60 years before Armenian papers and journals were printed in Armenia. As part of the USSR, most Soviet-era publications were in Russian; however, in the 1980s, there was a language and cultural revival that sparked an increase in journalistic activity. After independence, Armenia developed its own press laws. Though some media enterprises failed, more publications were founded that are still in circulation today, like Aravot, Yerkir, or AZG

The Internet began to spread with the beginning of the 21st Century and online media was developed.

To find out more about the development of online media and other trends of the Armenian media market,we asked Gegham Vardanyan, producer of Media.am, a project of the Media Initiatives Center, to give us an overview:

1.  The media market in Armenia is small. Which effect does it have on the media landscape?
Armenia is a small country; the actual population figure barely reaches 3 million. This doesn’t prevent us from having, for example, a large number of TV channels. For instance, there are 14 TV channels broadcast in Yerevan alone. There are many daily newspapers, but the print media is experiencing a crisis: print runs barely reach 5,000. In addition, newspapers are printed 5 times a week: there are no newspapers on Sunday or Monday.

Online media is well developed. News websites usually publish in three languages: Armenian, English, and Russian.

Despite the quantity I mentioned, it’s not always that the same TV station offers diverse TV products for its viewers, especially in terms of news. Armenian news outlets are not wealthy, and few have their own correspondents, not even in Moscow or Washington. In order to keep abreast of international news, Armenian news outlets often make use of different news agencies, especially Russian sources.

2.  Who owns the classic media outlets, like publishing houses, broadcasting stations, etc.? Does it interfere with journalistic work?

There is the Public TV and Radio Company of Armenia, which is completely financed by the state budget.

The matter of media ownership, by and large, is a problem. In many cases, large media holdings are Closed Joint-Stock Companies (CJSC). The law allows neither members of the public to apply to the state registry to receive the names of stockholders nor requires media companies to make the names of stockholders public.

Some of the private stations belong to politicians and businessmen close to the government. Though the law officially prohibits political parties from owning TV channels, four parliamentary parties have a huge influence on four different TV stations and the public knows this. This, of course, has a direct effect on the work of these TV channels.

Gegham Vardanyan. Photo by Sona Kocharyan.

Gegham Vardanyan. Photo by Sona Kocharyan.

3.  How did the move to digital media change the Armenian media landscape?
News websites in Armenia that operate according to the convergent newsroom model are advanced. Leading websites offer their readers not only text, but also high-quality photos, video, and live video coverage of developing news.

The most widespread social networking site is the Russian Odnoklassniki, though for discussions on social and political topics, the main platform is Facebook.

Though there is a lack of professionalism in the Armenian media landscape, the increasing number of news websites ensure media pluralism and are relatively more free (i.e. less controlled) than broadcast and, to a lesser extent, print media.

4.  What sources do journalists usually use to access information?
In Armenia, journalists use press releases. There are 5–6 press clubs that host press conferences on different issues every day. Republishing content from local news outlets without permission, as well as translating from various foreign media, is extremely widespread.

5.  Which topics are most popular in the media?
Here, the picture is the same as in the rest of the world. The most popular topics are crimes, celebrities, and sports, especially football. From political topics, of interest are news on the Karabakh conflict, when the situation on the Armenia-Azerbaijani border is tense. In general, developing news are of interest.

But the overall picture is different on different websites. For example, the top 5 most read stories in 2014 of a few leading news websites in Armenia were drastically different.

6.  Do you have any tips for people who would like to reach media, or journalists in Armenia?
You can read about Armenia’s media in a few industry websites, such as the Media Initiatives Center, Media.am (a project of the Media Initiative Center), and the Yerevan Press Club. See also the database of Armenian media outlets and professionals on the Yerevan Press Club website, as well as the Media Map on Media.am, which is organized by region (for example, see here for Yerevan).

Journalists in Armenia can be reached through social media. They are active primarily on Facebook, though also on Twitter.

Note:  Adrineh Der-Bogossian helped Gegham Vardanyan with the English text.

Click here to share this media relations tip on Twitter: How to Work with Armenian Media: A Q&A with Gegham Vardanyan: http://ctt.ec/7j2V9

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Think Globally and Act Locally with Business Wire’s New Multilingual Twitter Feeds

July 1, 2015

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social + Evolving Media

Business Wire today increased the visibility of its global news content with the launch of 19 new language-based Twitter feeds. This initiative is a continuation of Business Wire’s thinking globally, acting locally efforts aimed at ensuring our client’s news reaches local audiences around the world.

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Business Wire’s new language-based Twitter feeds will enhance its already strong social media presence, bringing its Twitter news feed presence to a total of 84 accounts.  The new Twitter handles feature tweets based on news releases distributed in the following languages: Chinese (CN), Chinese (HK), Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish.

Business Wire’s new language specific feeds can be found at the following URLs:

Have questions about our new multilingual Twitter feeds, or want to learn more about Business Wire?  Let us know.

Click here to share this information out on Twitter: http://ctt.ec/01pck

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Snacking On News … Will It Fill Your Brain?

June 23, 2015

Simona Bio

By Simona Colletta, International Media Relations Specialist – Paris

The internet helps people understand new things like the best way to clean a bicycle chain, proper snooker techniques, and how to change a car’s head lamp. But, according to a recent Pew Research Center study, the internet is not helping people comprehend the news. The study found that only 42 percent of people were able to answer basic questions about the news.

How could this be? Why are people so uninformed about the news when they have so many options to get the news? Maybe it’s precisely because they have all of those options. People are no longer digging into news stories and completely digesting them; instead, they are merely snacking on the news. According to the study, 59 percent of the time people do not read past the headlines on internet stories. The snacking is light, it seems.

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While the Pew Research Center Study doesn’t identify study participants by geographic location, I live in France and was recently alerted to an Odoxa survey done for Trooclick, a French start-up company that developed an opinion-driven search engine which uses a natural language processing technology to gather news and opinions online. The survey reveals some interesting data on how the French view today’s news landscape.

85 percent of French people believe that they have more information available

Between ongoing chains of information, online news sites, search engines, and social networks, the French feel more informed than they did ten years ago. A whopping 85 percent of them believe they have more information on the news. This finding is shared widely across the population, regardless of age, social class, or income level.

Graph 1

The French do not feel more informed

If the French have won in terms of quantity of information available to them on the internet, they certainly don’t feel they have won in terms of quality. Although 77 percent consider the available information on current events is becoming more varied, only a minority believes that information is becoming more useful.

It must be noted that the internet offers so much in terms of information, but that information is often scattered, poorly organized and frequently redundant. The result? Of every 10 articles read, less than half are read in full (4.5 exactly). A tiny minority of French (8 percent) read every article in full.

Graph 2

Nearly 7 out of 10 French are interested in a free online service that would deliver them a summary of every point of view on a news event

The logical conclusion to the results of the survey (and encouraging for Business Wire and Trooclick) is that 66 percent of French people would be interested in a free online service that would deliver to them a summary of all current events. The youngest were the most interested: 8 out of 10 would be keen on this kind of online service.

Snacking on the news is not bad in and of itself, but we should be attentive, as we are in our kitchen, to the quality and reliability of what we snack upon. In this massive jungle of media and information, a reader can now count on interactive tools that help him/her to select the best “product” and follow his/her fields of interest.

Have a bite!

Try Business Wire’s Press Pass or click here to visit trooclick.com

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Don’t Eclipse Your News During the Lunar New Year – Why Sending News to China During the Spring Festival is a Bad Idea

February 18, 2015

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By Matt Allinson, Media Relations Manager – International Markets

China’s Lunar New Year is nigh (February 19), but the travel frenzy known as Chunyun (a 40-day period surrounding the Spring Festival) is well underway. It is a migration unlike any other, with an estimated 2.8 billion passenger trips undertaken between February 4 and March 15. Millions upon millions of people will be hurrying home to reunite with family and enjoy the holiday. It is said to be the largest annual migration in the world.

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Chunyun travel in progress

With so many people concentrating on getting from one place to another, it stands to reason that not a lot of business gets done in the People’s Republic of China during this time of celebration. It also stands to reason that sending out a news release around the holiday is not a wise move – unless, of course, you’d rather people not see your news.

Shaun Bowers Interfax ChinaI had the opportunity to speak more about this with Shaun Bowers (pictured left), the Managing Director of Interfax News Services in China. He was kind enough to answer some questions I had, as well as some questions that are often put to me.

Q: Can you describe the impact Spring Festival travel has on not only the news distribution business, but all business in China?

A: It (business) almost stops. Family is at the very center of Chinese culture and this is the time of the year that workers all across China return to their home province to visit family. Often, it is the only time they will see their family during the entire year.

Starting in January, factories will stop taking orders because of the holiday and will be rushing to fill orders they have in hand. The distance workers have to travel means journeys can take days, so often workers will start traveling two weeks early … and it’s not uncommon for a factory to close for an entire month. So for most businesses, it is a quiet period … unless you are a food vendor near a train station or a retail clothing store (it is traditional to buy new clothes for the Spring Festival).

Q: A question I have received in the past is: Don’t the Chinese have the most cell phones (per capita) in the world? Wouldn’t they still be absorbing news on their devices during the holiday?

A: Perhaps you should ask them if they sit around the Thanksgiving dinner table and read the news. The Spring Festival is a time for celebration – the whole of China is on holiday and people are focused on fun and seeing old friends.

Q: To which western holiday would you compare the Lunar New Year? Or is there such a comparison?

A: It’s hard to compare … for Europe it would be Christmas, and for the U.S. I would say it’s like Thanksgiving … at Thanksgiving, people will do anything to get home. The U.S. has 330 million people and I’m sure readers can relate to what a nightmare travel can be during Thanksgiving. Now imagine adding another 900 million people, and you get a sense of what it’s like.

Q: What have been your personal observations and experiences with the Lunar New Year? Any crazy travel stories?

A: My wife’s family is from Hong Kong so we don’t have to travel, but it’s quite normal for us to sit down to dinner with 67 immediate family members … some of whom have traveled from all corners of the world. There is a saying in Hong Kong: “Don’t go on holiday as everyone you know will be on holiday, so stay in Hong Kong and enjoy the peace and quiet.”

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According to Shaun, it’s not that people in China don’t read news during the holiday; it’s just not a top priority. Chinese New Year is the one time of year when all workers can return home and, in essence, MUST return home. It is important for them to do so and it is expected that they will return with gifts for the whole family. And in the end, what’s more important: being present with family or reading up on news about listed companies?

Shaun’s advice, and mine, is to hold off on sending any news to China between the 18th and 24th of February.

And I will take this opportunity to remind you that it’s a best practice to always make sure the country to which you’re trying to send news is not on a holiday.  A quick check of timeanddate.com, bankholidays.com, officeholidays.com, or any similar site can save you time, resources and headaches when sending news internationally.

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Global Relations Has Changed – The Shift from Information to Participation

September 22, 2014

This year’s Global Media Forum held in Bonn, Germany launched a new shift in thinking for today’s media outlets.

Historically, relationships between media and companies have been about information sharing.  Companies write press releases, media outlets write coverage based on that information.  But this has changed.  In 2014, news sharing is shifting from learning by reading, to learning via participation.

Read this piece by Business Wire Germany’s Senior International Media Relations Specialist Kai Prager to learn more about this shift, and what changed the way Europeans think about media, news and news sharing in 2014.

http://www.commpro.biz/public-relations/media-relations/global-media-trends-shifting-information-participation/


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