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Media trainers must keep sustainability in mind

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I have spent three days now at the Global Media Forum. I have met the other bloggers, I have made new friends and met old friends from all over the world. I have eaten and even danced during the famous GMF boat ride on the Rhine River. So besides the serious side of the conference, there is also a fun part to it.

One of my areas of interest as a trained journalist and as a trainer of people in media is the influence of the advancing digital world on journalism. That’s why I attended a workshop organized by the DW Akademie with the title: New Trainers for New Media? Challenges for Human Resources Development in Media Support in a Fast-Changing Media Landscape.

The media environment has changed rapidly and continues to change because of great technological strides being made all over the world. For example, with the growing importance of social media, how do institutions training media professionals adapt to the new challenges it presents? Or should we think of this as a completely new area of media? This, of course, has a great impact on the environment for publishers, journalists, etc. The workshop focused on questions such as: What do trainers need to provide in training to make their students fit for the future? What are the benchmarks for human resources development in media outlets?

One of the questions that came up was the relationship between media trainers that come from abroad and sustainability. In my experience, it is very common to see trainers come in from the West to developing countries with best practice methodology and high-end equipment, who conduct highly professional seminars and workshops on location. After they leave, the project that they start is either not carried through or dies off after some time. This issue set off a round of discussion during this workshop. The conclusion was that the investment in knowledge is never lost, but, nevertheless, there needs to be a greater sense of ownership from the locals when it comes to such programs and projects.

Media trainers need to keep the sustainability of their projects in mind

From my experience in offering media training to people living in slums, I find that even for me as a Kenyan from a different community, I also face this challenge. For example, I can have what I think will be a great idea for a film for my students in the slums. However, the students – as people who actually live there – may disagree with my points of view simply because I cannot relate to their situation as well as they can. The best method should perhaps be to support local filmmakers and storytellers. It is important to have understanding for the culture of the place where you are shooting  films and have a passion for storytelling.

Listening to the discussion, another thing that struck me was the question of new media and how journalistic training institutions can balance and/or adapt curricula to a changing media environment. Striking a balance between meeting the commercial needs of the media market while training journalists versus focusing on traditional journalistic skills is something that media academies need to consider. People were in agreement at the conference: Digital skills should not replace journalistic skills. Even if the curriculum changes to keep up with the pace of industry, training institutes should be careful not to lose sight of the essentials.

I particularly liked this workshop as it touched the very topics I am passionate about. Namely: storytelling, media, journalism and training. I have really enjoyed learning and discussing at the conference.


June 28, 2012 | 3:19 pm