"Developing media. Strengthening human rights." The magazine chronicles DW Akademie's 50-year history from its inception to our work promoting freedom of opinion and the press today.
By Christian Gramsch, DW Akademie Director
This year we're celebrating our 50th anniversary. 2015 is an exciting time for us, full of special events and guests. It's also a time to reflect on where we've been and where we're headed.
Not long ago, colleagues pointed out an old photo to me. It was from one of our very first workshops and showed a group of African sound engineers posing proudly in front of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin. The photo made me feel proud as well - both of our long-standing ties with countries in Africa and elsewhere, and of the path we have traveled together over the past 50 years.
Our anniversary motto - "Developing media. Strengthening human rights." - perfectly sums up in just a few words what we at DW Akademie do and what our goals are. Our work in media development helps strengthen the universal human rights of free expression and free access to information. We work closely with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) as well as with the German Foreign Office, the European Union, and other funding agencies. Our dedication and commitment over the years has made us an essential partner in German policymaking. It is this responsibility that drives us forward.
A wide range of activities has defined our work over the past 50 years, and this magazine highlights three of our current priorities: finding solutions in crisis zones, supporting innovation and offering high-quality training. This is because the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the unstable political situation in many Arab Spring countries and the growing threat of international terrorism are examples of the sobering realities confronting international media development today.
In times of crisis, it becomes clear just how essential independent media are. For DW Akademie, finding ways to solve deadlocks is a key part of media development. Even when our work in crisis-hit countries isn't easy, we don't look away. Instead, we remain steadfast, reliable partners. Our projects in Ukraine and Pakistan are examples of this. Since we began our work half a century ago, DW Akademie has continuously developed new methods and approaches. And while our projects vary, they all have one thing in common: innovative forms of communication. They include school media groups in the Palestinian Territories that help students express their opinions, a Munich hip-hop band that puts a musical spin on learning German, and a digital media manifesto developed by digital trailblazers from 14 different countries. We believe that when innovative strategies get people talking together, and when the expectations of target groups are met, that's when media development projects stand a good chance of enjoying success over the long term.
The next generation of journalists is key to this success and is why Deutsche Welle has been offering traineeships for aspiring journalists since 1964. We also continue to offer advanced professional training for working journalists. This way, we and our partners help lay the foundation for sustainable, free and independent media landscapes. Our training courses for skilled personnel and executives from the world of politics, business and civil society have also been successful.
Because it's only when decision-makers are able to clearly communicate information and their own positions to the public that a diverse and transparent media environment can develop. I hope this has piqued your curiosity. And I hope you'll enjoy reading more about our current projects and looking at some of the photos taken over the last 50 years - five decades that we can be proud of.
Director DW Akademie