“Re-Imaging Journalism: News and Storytelling in an Age of Distrust”
SALZBURG GLOBAL SEMINAR Report
(In English only)
Salzburg Global Seminar is like a lighthouse. In the frustrating reality, the weaponization of fake news by political and public leaders leads to the loss of trust of communities to journalists. But in this light house, I feel like this group of 74 aspiring students all over the world and 35 faculty and visiting scholars is a strong and powerful beam of light, guiding me through the darkness and helping me finding the hopeful future for journalism.
Salzburg Global Seminar is an independent non-profit organization founded in 1947 to challenge current and future leaders to shape a better world. One of the programs, The Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change, builds digital literacies and engagement around critical challenges for society. The topic of this year is “Re-Imaging Journalism: News and Storytelling in an Age of Distrust”. All participants have to join 30 master lectures, workshops, seminars, 5 salons, a screening series, over 40 reading groups, 2 excursions; and spend over 20 hours of dedicated time to work in self-facilitated groups to build responses to the problem of distrust in journalism and media institutions.
The schedule was very packed; yet you did not want to miss any of that. Lecture started at 9am precisely every day, and we 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 of Buzzfeed News, Ryan Broderick. It was a precious experience to join the lectures conducted by so many experts in their field. One of the most memorable lectures was “Media Literacy of War: The Synergies of Synchronizing Terrorism, Populism and Media Strategies” by Jad Melki, associate professor at the Lebanese American University. He talked about how ISIS promoted its idea through social media like Facebook and Twitter. It was very disturbing when I saw ISIS was using Peppa Pig, a famous animation among kids, to spread their message. He promoted the idea of “Peace Journalism” against “War Journalism”, and encouraged reporters to cover conflict resolution and follow up. His talk was so inspiring so my group decided to create our final project based on peace journalism.
Starting from the second week, we began to form ideas for our final project, which offers transmedia narratives that experiment with new approaches on storytelling and journalism that inspire care, community, and meaningful human engagement in an age of digital abundance. Working in a group full of diversity enables me to listen to different ideas from others. The faculty of our group also helps making our crazy ideas possible. We were divided into sub-group and I worked with Hong Kong, Lebanon and American students. We began with the potential of peace journalism to change the relationship between journalism and viral content. Can Peace Journalism go viral? Can audience’s engagement with Peace Journalism encourages the creation of more positive viral content?
Rather than undertaking a traditional literature review, we decided to design a game that educates young, aspiring journalists. We proposed that if we could help aspiring journalists practice Peace Journalism before entering the field, we could influence a shift in the way journalism is done. In this way, we aimed to re-imagine the institution of journalism.
However, none of us was game designer. We had never tried to design a game. We started by dreaming something big, designing an online role-playing game, but soon realized that it would be a challenge to make an analog version of our initial vision. Luckily, Susan Moeller, the faculty member, provided feedback and suggested models that would help us create a playable game in time for our fast-approaching deadline. When I was designing the game, I learnt the importance of teamwork since it was impossible to design a table game in two days without the help of my teammates. Our game might not be perfect, but I hope it could provide players insight of peace journalism.
The game was based on the model of an existing game The Secret Hitler. Players were assigned into two rival teams, either Peace team or War team. Players had to think of a specific conflict and create their own headlines. To win the game, players must create as much viral headlines as possible for their team. The game was called “The Race For Rivality”, you didn’t have to buy this game to play it. You could access the pieces and rules online.
Salzburg Global Seminar is like a gold mine, an abundance of resources is waiting for you to discover. I am really honored to be part of this inspiring program and I have known so many amazing counterparts around the world. I truly believe as long as we work together, we can make a better future, for ourselves and for the world. Thank you Journalism Education Fund for sponsoring me to join this meaningful program. I hope students who join Salzburg Global Seminar can also make a change in their lives.
Hong Kong Baptist University
Department of Journalism
Lam Yan Kei