Salzburg Academy Students Re-Imagine New Tools and Platforms for Better Journalism




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Aug 09, 2018
by Stephanie Quon
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Salzburg Academy Students Re-Imagine New Tools and Platforms for Better Journalism

At the 2018 Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change, students from around the world examined the global trend of misinformation and distrust of the media and the tools and platforms needed to resist this growing digital epidemic Students and faculty from the 2018 Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change

In an age where advanced technology can manipulate or fabricate almost everything to produce false information and social media platforms’ algorithms create echo chambers that drown out more accurate information and moderate voices, the public appears to have lost trust in the media. How can this trend be reversed?

For three weeks at a palace in Salzburg this summer, more than 75 participants from around the world came together to take on this challenge, producing interactive stories and creating new tools for engagement at the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change

Over the course of the three-week program – Re-Imaging Journalism: News and Storytelling in an Age of Distrust – university undergraduate and graduate students took part in plenary sessions, workshops, reading groups and hands-on exercises that challenged their perspectives, provided opportunities for thinking outside the box, and transformed their ideas into action. Topics covered included critical media making, the intersection of civic imagination and civic media, the bridging of cultural divides, journalism ethics, and media literacy. 

The participants were led by an expert faculty of both academics and practitioners including award-winning journalist, Daniela Rea, Google tech lead, Dan Russell, and Global News Director for Buzzfeed News, Ryan Broderick.

“We’re at the precipice of all of this new technology… I never fully understood the power that we have, the opportunity that we have, and the responsibility that we have until I came here and listened to all of these amazing scholars talk about the work that they’re doing,” says Academy student, Lynsey Jeffery, from University of Maryland, USA.

The Salzburg Academy, now in its 12th year, served as an “inclusive and creative space,” where participants reaped the benefits of healthy debate and dialogue, challenging their existing views and sharing personal experiences through such exercises as the Human Library

“Coming here has completely flipped my perspective and made me realize that I have such a Western-centric view on the media,” says Bournemouth student Maya Parchment. “It’s made me look at everything I consume in a different way.”

Participants at this year’s Academy came from countries including Argentina, Austria, China, Colombia, Denmark, India, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Palestine, Sudan, the UK, the US, Venezuela and Viet Nam. 

Together, this global cohort produced the online publication Persist: New Ideas for Journalism in an Age of Distrust, to be published next week.

Launched in 2007 by Salzburg Global Seminar and now counting nearly 1000 students and faculty in its alumni and with university partners on five continents, the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change has taken a pioneering lead in media education with a focus on media literacy and civic engagement. 

“What impressed me most [about this year’s program] was the engagement and sensitivity of such a diverse group of students to the cultural and social nuances that make the concept of trust so complex,” says Paul Mihailidis, program director of the Salzburg Academy and associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, USA. 

“They found ways to educate and inspire each other, faculty, and the outside world through their own storytelling. The energy was palpable and the result is that not only are we forging new avenues for journalism, but also for those involved in the experience themselves.”

“The Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change continues to be a leader in creating active media networks and ideas that will positively benefit communities and societies around the world.”

Re-Imagining Journalism: News and Storytelling in an Age of Distrust is part of Salzburg Global Seminar’s long running multi-year program Salzburg Academy of Media and Global Change. More information on the session can be found here. You can also follow all the discussions on Twitter and Instagram by following the hashtag #SGSmedia.