World Association of News Publishers

Joint Media Freedom Gathering in Singapore

Joint Media Freedom Gathering in Singapore

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Singapore hosted WAN-IFRA’s first Media Freedom Programme Asia joint gathering from 7 to 10 November, during which media partners from the Media Freedom and Democracy Programme (supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and the Strengthening Media and Society Programme (supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark) met for three days of strategy workshops, peer-mentoring, and networking.

By Colette Davidson

26 media partners from the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Myanmar came together to discuss media challenges, the digital transformation in newsrooms, advertising and more. The joint workshop brought together participants from two distinct media freedom programmes, and is the result of years of preparation and forward thinking.

“We’ve been working with media partners in Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam since 2012, focusing on skills development, mentoring and coaching to help strengthen the business and editorial skills of independent media in the region,” says Melanie Walker, Director of Media Development at WAN-IFRA. “We’ve also recently begun working with independent media from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines to help strengthen digital strategies, empower women editorial leaders, and combat media freedom challenges. Bringing together these two groups presented a unique opportunity for extended peer-to-peer exchanges and networking.”

Under the guidance of Ali Rahnema – WAN-IFRA Media Freedom Brain Trust member and former COO of Digital at the Toronto Star – participants took part in guided peer-to-peer mentoring sessions to discuss common business and editorial challenges as well as potential solutions.

The gathering also focused on strategy articulation, tools from the newspaper industry and how to create a business plan. The group then attended Digital Media Asia, one of WAN-IFRA’s principle regional conferences.

As an option, participants could additionally attend themed breakfast and lunch meetings which included talks on Digital Transformation in the Newsroom, How Video Can Make or Break the Customer Experience, and The Future of Advertising.

Media participants stepped away from the weekend with a more open mind, new friendships and a handle on the latest technologies. Mildred Galarpe, Managing Editor at Mindanao News in the Philippines, says she learned more about how to be creative in storytelling, experiment with sponsored video content on YouTube, as well as using new tools like Virtual Reality to tell a story or share an experience.

“In this time of so much disruption and technological challenges, media practitioners must participate in gatherings to showcase the experiences of others,” says Galarpe. “With these initiatives, publishers can update each other on their respective challenges and experiences.”

Leang Phannara, who works for the Post Media Co in Cambodia, says the programme will be extremely beneficial to his career.

“I think it’s very important for the media as we’re facing common challenges. This initiative was a useful platform to share knowledge and new technologies with each other, especially innovations,” says Phannara. “The course they designed gave me useful insights that I can apply to my workplace and it will pave the way for me to improve my professional career.”

While participants looked to the Brain Trust members for guidance, the knowledge and expertise of the participants themselves was unparalleled, says Walker, creating a vibrant, productive and inspiring environment.

“Through these types of gatherings, we aim to tap into this expertise, helping to create linkages between individual media executives and their outlets that previously did not exist,” she says.

WAN-IFRA plans to bring the two groups together again in the upcoming months for follow-up peer mentoring sessions. Until then, participants say they plan to show their newfound skills to media professionals in their home countries.

“I will bring the new things I learned from the gathering to share with my colleagues and strengthen their abilities,” says Phannara. “It was a great opportunity to attend the programme.  It opened my mind to something new and helped me learn how to solve workplace challenges.”


Hedvig Lundstrom's picture

Hedvig Lundstrom


2016-11-23 16:19

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In countless countries, journalists, editors and publishers are physically attacked, imprisoned, censored, suspended or harassed for their work. WAN-IFRA is committed to defending freedom of expression by promoting a free and independent press around the world. Read more ...