The internet must protect human right and privacy…The internet must give people access to education and opportunities for participation, it should be a place where people can gather information and make their voices heard. This give rise to project such as the Nigerian Follow The Money initiative which was presented here yesterday. The initiative monitor whether aid money really reaches its destination. Team members go to the villages and follow up on the promises made by the politicians. They publish their findings in easy to understand diagrams on their website” – Thomas Silberhorn, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Corporation and Development, in his keynote address at the Global Media Forum
“I forget my name, I forget my dreams, maybe we do not have a lot of power because we are nothing, but sometimes a nothing man can change a lot” these mix of Words on Piano of Aeham Ahmad, 28 years old, from the streets of Yarmouk Camp in Syria who now lives in Germany keep lingering in my heart as another forum to discuss media, freedom and values kick starts in Bonn Germany. On the count, this will be the seventh global conference honouring our Follow The Money work.
In recent times, media organizations have been battling with innovating their newsrooms,as,challenges of its freedom and values has always resonated around newsrooms Ever since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948 at the Palais de Chaillot, Paris. Much reason why the Annual Global Media Forum in Bonn, Germany held between June 13 – 15 had its theme around this challenges and opportunities, and welcoming 2,000 participants including media CEOs, journalists, academics, artistsentrepreneurs from 110 countries
“We need to rethink the way in which we perceive, demonstrate and spread our values.” With those words, DW Director General Peter Limbourg opened the Global Media Forum in Bonn on Monday, June 13, 2016. Looking at the long list of exceptional speakers for the event, it asserts to me that we are living in the midst of communications revolution that is already having significant effects on democracy, and as such, it will be pertinent to instill our values as journalists, or “content creators” to research with due diligence, copy after checking the facts, stop scandalizing every harmless occurrence, and make reference to sources of credible information.
Our values are greatly important especially as enemies of freedom of speech increases across borders. From Turkey clamping down on newsrooms who are highlighting to the world,the human right abuses of the regime; to Nigeria, where a legislature is sponsoring a bill that infringes on the freedom of speech; to Maldive government arresting journalists. This is becoming a challenge to democracy as the “fourth pillar of democracy” is becoming threatened.
Suffice to say that the forum was a congregation of media enthusiast living everyday with the believe that the media (be it the new or the traditional) would continue to serve as a watchdog for democracies, even as press freedom declined to its lowest point in 12 years, and 13 percent of the world’s population enjoys a free press, according to the Freedom House 2016 report
Most of the thoughts from speakers ranges from how media organizations can start innovating their newsrooms; privacy and security, violence against women and children, the US presidential elections, migration issues in Europe, and the relationship between media and policy makers.
Actually, I was thrilled when participants asked what the relationship of Follow The Money was, with the government of Nigeria during the panel on digital innovations coordinated by the DW Akademie. “Always flat and parallel” I have answered, as only few state agents will embrace a watchdog initiative, that demeans the bureaucracy within government institutions. Maybe that might changed in the near future, I will sure be excited!
It was not only three days of discussions, I like the fact that every closing of the day is met with social gatherings long enough for networking, meeting old friends, and chatting new courses, as well.This time around, I enjoyed the food because special considerations were given to we chicken and meat eaters,still not yet a veggie, not sure I will be one. Talking about closing, Christiana Figueres. The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) speech on ‘the role of the media’ was truly exceptional as it shaken the power of the pens that break news event “You should not just inform people on and about events, you as journalist, or content producers, should use your privilege to use news to connect the dots, to point out to the public the ramifications, and implications of the news event” Figueres said
Certainly, the freedom we all enjoy as information users are threatened, every day, as the connection with the world gets smaller and thinner, and digital technologies open our doors, to every form of air – with 6 in 7 people leaving in countries where they cannot express information, and ideas freely. Nevertheless, the lens and pens’ attitude to become impartial and objective will remain pertinent, and the words from Bonn will linger – sometimes a nothing man can change a lot, one time the peace will come if we can connect the dots!