Three Takeaways from the Deutsche Welle, Global Media Forum

8 July 2014

Three takeaways I took from the Deutsche Welle, Global Media Forum (http://www.dw.de/global-media-forum/home/s-30956), and why I think they are important for our work and the media in South Africa.

The first takeaway: “If you really speak truth to power expect it to bite back.” Sarah Harrison of wiki leaks fame (http://www.dw.de/exposing-the-secrets-of-unaccountable-power/a-17753718). There are two aspects relevant here. She was referring to the backlash against the revelations by Edward Snowden who exposed the extensive surveillance of citizens.  On some levels in South Africa we are already patently aware of this, where we have seen numerous whistle blowers being victimized and significant push back both from government and corporates when corruption or bad practices are exposed. To that extent, what she said isn’t new to us; it’s valuable to us as the commonality should give us strength. We take strength not from the potential backlash but from the experience of those who seek to speak truth to power, that we share a common goal to hold the powerful accountable.

The second important takeaway was highlighted in numerous sessions throughout the conference, in key note speeches and workshops.  We need to be a lot more careful about our online interactions, not because people are necessarily spying on us but because we need to learn to be digitally responsible citizens.  In the same way we have learned previously not to send certain information via post, or to hide our pin at an ATM, there are equally important practices we need to carry out in relation to our digital interactions. Our media have already been raising the alarm about possible unjustified surveillance of South African citizens, and we need to take heed, especially if we continue to speak truth to power.  We need to take better precautions over email, social media and mobile phone use. Here are a few useful tools in this article: http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/06/07/how_to_secure_and_encrypt_your_email_and_other_communications_from_prism.html


The third takeaway emerged from the Ashoka Globalizer (http://ashokaglobalizer.org/participative-journalism) which I was fortunate to participate in the lead up to the Global Media Forum.  I got to meet a group of amazing people doing really cool work, each of them passionate about an idea or project that they can scale and have a really significant impact relating to the media.  From building a network of quality news radio content, radio stations focused on women and holding corporates accountable, to setting up crowd sourcing funding for journalists, pocket sized fm radio stations and uber cool mesh networks. In addition, each of us had a series of one-on-one meetings with industry experts.  Each person had gone through our ideas and projects, and while they brought some critical questions, what really inspired me was the overwhelming level of support that they expressed for the project I had presented.

What was the project?  An online game for young people, to give them critical media literacy skills, a voice in mainstream media - and have fun while doing it. Watch this space…