This year the only right question is: What’s Working?

  1. History of Prague Media Point

Prague Media Point is a conference that started in 2012. It takes place every year and brings together a group of people associated with the media: journalism, scientists, activists, media specialists. This annual interdisciplinary event gathers guests from all over the world and provides space for networking, exchanging views on traditional and new media. Every year, Prague Media Point highlights various topics. For example, “Populism, Authoritarianism, and the Media: The Age of Mediocracy and Mediocracy” was the subject of a 2015 conference. During the debates you could hear how authoritarianism and populism affect the development of the media and communication industries.

The 2016 edition oscillated around the broad topic of Media and Migration. The main focus was on the role of the media in the refugee crisis; belonging and identity by the influence of the media, especially in the context of multiculturalism and globalization; media images of the immigrant and migrant communities.

In 2018, it was Media and Technology: Innovative Journalism in a Contested Political Space. The world is becoming increasingly unstable, and this leaves independent media exposed to many challenges. The democratic role of journalism in representing the public interest is being actively undermined by a declining audience, (un)sustainable economic development and business and political interests. All of these challenges are in some form related to the latest and rapid technological advances that have changed the way information is disseminated.

  1. Prague Media Point 2020

In 2020 Prague Media Point conference was held online. Journalists, experts and scholars met on December 1-11 to share their stories, experiences and tell the world about their research. This year’s theme was #WhatsWorking. Participants focused on effective methods and strategies applicable in journalism and media industry. They also discussed current issues. Additionally, participants could take part in the practical workshops and learn about the solution journalism, digital and personal safety and more.

In the agenda, there were 36 sessions divided into four main segments: current issues, innovations, investigative journalism and scholarly research. Discussion about current issues focused on the freedom of media, pandemic, diversity (for example reporting on LGBTQI+ community) and the climate change. While discussing innovations, participants proposed solutions for providing self-help for media and news agencies. In the investigative journalism segment, speakers covered topics of engaging the audience and tracking organized crime. Scholarly research provided interesting insights into the problems connected for instance with COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s speakers came from various countries. They represented the Visegrad Group (Poland, Czech Republic or Hungary), but also the rest of the Europe (e.g. Netherlands, Norway, United Kingdom). Many speakers came from different parts of the globe, for example from USA or India. Ilona Biernacka-Ligieza from our university was among speakers from Poland. She spoke about the importance of digital media in local public space crisis management.

  1. Interviews with speakers

3.1 Sven Egenter & Jonathan Hoffmann

Climate change is one of today’s major societal challenges. How can journalists approach climate change? We had an interview with Sven Egenter who heads Clean Energy Wire, which produces and supports energy transition journalism. His positions at work are Editor in Chief and Executive Director. Sven Egenter was talking about journalism for energy transition.

People are returning to traditional media and they want to rely on journalists” – he said.

  • On our question: “Is there anything positive about the COVID-19?”
  • Sven Egenter replied: “If you are a good science journalist, this is obviously your moment”.

Also he claimed that humans made climate change. It will affect all of us if we don’t act together in a decisive way.

What are the biggest challenges that the media and journalists face during the pandemic?

The COVID-19 crisis has only further exacerbated the financial fragility of media organizations around the world, making successful reader-support models all the more important for media to thrive” – PMP organizers stated.

Jonathan Hoffmann is Chief Operating Officer at Project Syndicate. According to the website Project Syndicate produces and delivers original, high-quality commentaries to a global audience. Their membership includes over 500 media outlets in 156 countries. As Jonathan Hoffmann said “The underlined mission behind Project Syndicate is that we are dedicated to trying to host a global debate about key issues shaping our world. The content we focus on is serious in nature: economics, politics, world affairs, health development, science, technology.” Organization believes “… the entire world deserves access to its greatest minds. Our mission is to reach those without this opportunity”.

3.2 Nina Fasciaux

Nina Fasciaux is an Europe Manager & International coordinator for the Solutions Journalism Network. She is the author of the book Nomade des mers, les escales de l’innovation, a world tour of low-tech solutions to basic needs. She has trained hundreds of journalists in multiple countries.

At the Prague Media Point conference her session is about How to report in (and on) a polarized world without making everything worse? Her topic has a background in the work of her colleague from Solutions Journalism Network, Amanda Riley. She is an investigative reporter, who after the 2016 elections in the U.S. have felt that she didn’t listen to all the people voting for Trump. She started to do some research about how conflict media area experts in mediation can offer tools that journalists could learn from when it comes to listening better and embracing the nuances that make a story.

One thing she finds out is that traditional journalism doesn’t work to cover conflicts, because it’s a binary basis and you have two sides of the story. One is for, one is against. We simplify when we tell the stories of polarizing issues that way. And so how we can better embrace the nuances and move away that one side – one side or he said/she said of the story. My session is really about learning from her research the Solutions Journalism Network did to support journalists in exploring the new tools. So we have built a curriculum which is called “Complicative the narratives” based on listening better, bracing complexity, understanding underneath the problem. Really about what can we understand that is more complex from what we can see and hear.

She admitted that young journalists, who are taking the first steps in journalism should ask relevant questions and have an agenda really set. Her advice to them:

I think, on some topics it’s important to lose control over that

[asking prepared questions]

and really commit to listen instead of commit to ask questions. Because often when you do this, you will have the real information unique. By losing control what question to ask, sometimes you get to an information that other journalists don’t have access to. So that’s one advice I will give to young journalists. It’s good to know what question to ask and where you want to bring your interviewee to, but it’s also good sometimes to just sit and listen.”

3.3 Lisa Essex & Karin Wahl-Jorgensen & Simona Fendrychová

Another important person we interviewed was Lisa Essex. She has worked as a Media Development Advisor and Trainer for many years. Her main focus in her career is the problem of the work of journalists with the LGBT community and information on this topic. We were struck by her courage and modernity in questions which are related to a such complicated and complex problem. Lisa Essex organizes trainings for journalists and writes numerous media guides to help the LGBT community function better in journalism and the news sphere. The fourth person we had an opportunity to interview was Karin Wahl-Jorgensen. She is a distinguished professor at the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Culture. Her current specialization is the adaptation of media and journalists to work during the Covid-19 Pandemic. She has also written many books about the connection between the public, politics and emotions. The most recent interview we did was with Simona Fendrychová. She is a young journalist from Prague whose goal is to educate the world about the problems of global warming. Unfortunately now, against the background of Covid-19, this topic has become much less developed and discussed, but Simona does not give up. She insists that this topic is no less important and relevant now than the world pandemic.

  1. One of the 11 days

The third day of the conference was held on December 8. First three panels hosted by the moderator Natalia Antelava

Editor in Chief, Coda Story were dedicated to Boosting Relevance and Revenue Through Listening by Jennifer Brande, Growing Subscriber Base, Community, and Revenue by Patricia Torres-Burd and Jonathan Hoffman and Crowdfunding Fundamentals with Kickstarter by Oriana Leckert.

Jennifer Brandel, co-founder of Hearken, a company that helps newsrooms democratize the editorial process to create coverage that’s more representative and relevant. She was talking about the connection between newsroom’s and the public and how important it is to let the public ask the questions and give them the opportunity to choose what content is the most important. It helps organizations embed listening into their growth and operations to build more resilient companies and communities. Listening leads to stronger relationships, deeper engagement, better decisions, and enables individuals to make an outsized positive impact in the world. Every individual is worthy of being heard.

For media “Hearken” look to creative the conditions for:

·Care and compassion

·Service and teamwork

·Growth and fulfillment

But people don’t just need other people to make themselves as individuals feel better—networked communities function better. The Hearken Engagement Management System (EMS) and Switchboard Community Management System are two technologies that enable communities to function better. And our consulting helps to prepare teams, organizations and companies to put community at the center of their work and workflows.

Patricia Torres-Burd (managing director of Media Advisory Services for MDIF, (Media Development Investment Fund)) and Jonathan Hoffman (chief operating officer of Project Syndicate, a nonprofit providing commentary and analysis on a variety of global topics to more than 500 news outlets in more than 150 countries) was talking about the subscriber base. How to gain an audience and retain it with the help of content quality. They also gave some tips on how to maintain quality while answering questions that the audience wanted to know.

Topic of Oriana Leckert, (Senior Outreach Lead for Publishing, Comics, and Journalism, Kickstarter) was dedicated to Kickstarter and crowdfunding. Oriana talked about her experience on how to properly start a crowdfunding campaign, which aspects are the most important and what is the main point of it. The topic of media relations with kickstarter was also touched upon. In her opinion, crowdfunding should be used more in the media.

Orianna Leckert, deeply passionate about the written word in all forms. Talented writer and crowdfunding consultant from Brooklyn, NY. She has been working in and around the media for more than a decade. And if your big event is coming up? She will be at your service. It is crucial to manage big groups of people effectively to an useful experience for everyone. During Prague Media Point presentation she discovered few suggestions to help you with crowd control and planning for your next big event:

Ensure a clear flow of people in and around the event. Managing the movement of people in and around your event is important if you want to reduce chaos and keep everything running smoothly.

Professional crowd control services can help you create a plan to manage people at your event effectively and ensure everyone has a pleasant and safe experience. Trained professionals know how to respond to situations and de-escalate them quickly and effectively to reduce incidents and keep everyone safe.

Each panel took thirty minutes and was filled not only with information, but also with the personal experience of each of the speakers.

Despite the difficult global situation and the lack of opportunities to hold the conference live, more than 400 viewers were registered. Students conducted more than 20 interviews with speakers to learn more about the panels and the speakers themselves. Over the course of five days, the conference participants talked about #WhatsWorking and their experience. A huge amount of work was done by the organizers and students to make the conference interesting not only for media professionals, but also for ordinary people. Does it work? We think it does.

Authors:

Patrycja Mielniczek

Magdalena Żochowska

Paulina Kijewska

Nina Rashkovska

Diana Meskhiya

Anastasiya Kabanova

Andrii Mats

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