By Mariell Raisma
Deutsche Welle Akademie is a German-based organization for media development that provides training and education for young journalists across the globe. Orange Magazine talked to Andrea Küppers, Project Coordinator of DW Akademie, on the way youngsters can benefit from media skills and how newsrooms can take advantage of younger voices.
How is DW Akademie focusing on media development?
We are working on different fields of media development; for example, we have traditional journalistic education, and we also train media consumers through media information literacy program. We need to train people to make them understand how to use media, be critical, and invest their learning into development.
How has freedom of speech changed in the last years?
Media freedom is under threat everywhere in the world. We have to be aware of the drivers of media development and of those who engage people to invest knowledge and time to understand media. We have to analyze people’s media consumption patterns to foster our media freedom projects for more intelligent media use.
If to look more globally, then what are the tendencies of media development? Could you bring out some trends?
Big media owners are getting bigger, they are getting more influence and more channels; but more channels does not mean that we have more independence or more quality journalism. The other thing is that media are getting faster. With digitalization around the globe, and with very fast digital development, especially among the countries in transition, we have a strong media development in the digital sphere. Some countries are leapfrogging and not making the long development we have been having in Europe. The European model is completely out. We are having global model with global media owners, and we are having various local models in changing media landscapes; an example is Africa where digitalization makes a big point.
Can you give us some numbers?
The most important number for me is that only 14% of the global population has access to free information and quality media – and that makes media freedom the biggest point for us. Another figure is that the audiences are getting younger and younger, and this means there is a big chance for digital media in the short future.
14%. Is the situation getting better or worse?
The situation is getting more complex, and the development is getting faster.
Does it mean we are getting more media freedom?
The media freedom is under threat; that is what figures of Freedom House or Reporters without Borders have shown in May. More channels are less independent, not enough fact-checking, so we need to strengthen our knowledge in media literacy to be able to make good choices.
One of the ways to improve media development is through media literacy.
Yes, we always had media education programs, but taking into account the fast development at all levels, we are creating new media education programs. Young people do not consume media in the same way people did 20-30 years ago. Therefore, it is important to understand how the trend of media consumption is developing. It is important to create modern media education programs which are appealing to a broader public and which are not taught in a classical way; they need to be safer and more dynamic due to new media situation.
We should create appealing media educational program already for kindergarten. Every age and every school should have its own effective program, that would last for one or two hours every week.
What would be the way to make media topic appealing for youngsters?
By asking them: Are you a media user? Are you searching for information? My children are using their own channels for that. A few years ago, I created an afternoon program at my children’s school; it was named “Magic Channels”. This idea goes back to researcher and author Marshall McLuhan, who is very famous in media community. He was one of the people who had invented the term “global village” long before the Internet. The idea of “Magic Channels” was somehow appealing to the young public, and what we created during these afternoons was an interest on different questions.For example, who owns the media? Where is money coming from for big media? What are big media doing with their money? How is money invested in journalism? How can we as consumers make the difference between professional media output and handmade output by consumers? It was our way to develop a very dynamic and interactive education for youth without giving typical teacher approach.
How old the students were?
They were between 14 and 16.
How else should we communicate with youngsters?
I think we should learn from the youngsters. This is, perhaps, our last big challenge for media. So I think we should learn from the people who are now between 10 and 20. They are creating new formats. They are accelerating the development of media in all countries. They are defining the new channels we have never used and we will never shape because we come from a different era. So in learning from each other, it is important that we give more power to young people to create the new medium. They anyway will. That would be my message to public service media in Europe: more youngsters to the newsrooms to try to keep the idea of free, independent, quality journalism fresh.
We are already in the media revolution, which is driven by young people, young formats, and lots of innovations.
What effect does media development have for society?
I would like to be broader at this point. Communication is important for all levels of development in any society, and media are a part of it. We have to learn as consumers to make a difference between public relations and quality journalism. Media development is like a catalyst for development so media and communication is needed everywhere in development. We believe that media development is especially strong and powerful for democracies, for critical and open society. Therefore, it has a key position.
What will be the future of media development?
I wish media development to be more included in modern development programs. I think it would be nice idea to cooperate between sectors and to involve the power of media in all kinds of projects.
Deutsche Welle began broadcasting on May 3, 1953, and this year, it celebrates its 65th anniversary. In 1965, Deutsche Welle Academy was created, which has trained thousands of journalists from around the world. We are happy to be cooperating with DW and congratulate them on this important milestone.