On 19 November I spoke at the conference “Correcting Images 2016: Digitalisation and Development” in Leipzig. The title of my 1-hour speech (I know that’s long, but judging by comments and feedback received afterwards the audience found it interesting and worth waking up – and then staying awake – for :): Social Media Content for Journalism and News Reporting: Benefits and Challenges – Focus on Verification.
About 150 people, most of them students from Leipzig (Leipzig University), Bamberg (Bamberg University), Munich (Nachwuchsjournalisten in Bayern e.V. and Deutsche Journalistenschule) and Bonn/Berlin (Deutsche Welle Akademie) attended the 2016 edition of this annual event that focuses on various media-related topics and issues. This year, the topic digitalisation and new media developments took center-stage. The conference as a whole is organised by Engagement Global, a non-profit providing services in the field of development work.
On day 1 and 2 of the conference, topics of particular relevance to this year’s focus countries Estonia, India and Kenya were raised in keynote talks and presentations, which were thereafter discussed and raised further in workshops and interactive sessions (more about it on the conference blog that contains a large variety of reports and video recordings produced by students of DW Akademie‘s International Media Studies’ degree course).
The final day 3 of the event then covered the topic social media for news reporting and the importance and practices of verifying content residing in and shared via social networks.
I kicked off the day with a 1 hour keynote presentation. After providing an overview and setting the scene of what was to come, I used a number of selected events in which social media played a significant role to outline what impact this can have on news reporting. I also made special reference to the US presidential elections and the run-up to it. The selected examples were furthermore intended to outline both the benefits as well as pitfalls of social media content for the newsgathering and reporting process, as well as point to possible consequences (“good and bad”). Ultimately, all this prepared the ground for providing tips and advice for dealing with social media sources, especially its verification.
After the presentation, students split into smaller workshop groups in which they tackled individual verification challenges – all very hands-on work.
This was followed by the final plenary session in which – after a vote among participants to choose the topic – the following question was discussed: “how can we appeal to emotions in reporting without this being at the expense of accuracy and facts?” Another lively and engaged discussion took place.
The day closed at 1.30 pm after the conference round-up, thank-yous and good-byes. Judging by feedback I received immediately afterwards, participants as well as the organizers were happy all around. So I was happy, too, and could return “back to base” exhausted but content!