DW's annual media conference has come to a close after three days of lively debate and high-profile speakers. International crises and the interplay between media and technology dominated the forum.
The ninth edition of the Global Medium Forum came to a close in Bonn on Wednesday with a call for journalists to beware of passive reporting in an age of interactive news.
Over 2,000 guests had flocked to the annual event, which draws policy makers, academics and journalists from over 100 countries. Under the theme of "Media. Freedom. Values." panels discussed the interplay between media and democratic values, with topics ranging from coverage of world's many crises, to how the media can help uphold human rights.
During her keynote address, outgoing UN climate chief Christiana Figueres (pictured above) appealed to journalists to fight back against the trend of simply distributing information in a "he said, she said" manner.
"You cannot just inform the public about events. If that is what you're doing, then we don't need you as people, we just need iPhones," Figueres said.
If journalists give preference to shallow coverage over analysis, then the world is "not using your brain, is not using your heart, is not using your soul," to "connect the dots" between different news events.
A reminder to live out European values
Lively debates dominated the conference, where most of the topics highlighted the state of freedom of expression around the world. As Thomas Silberhorn of Germany's Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) put it in his closing speech on Wednesday, an estimated six out of seven people live in a country where freedom of the press is in danger.
"Free access to information and freedom of speech are key to human development," Silberhorn told participants on the final day of the three-day conference. "Only then can other rights be asserted."
This year's edition featured several interactive components, including an art work by Egyptian painter Ammar Abo Bakr
The exclusive media event highlighted courageous achievements of international journalists, awarding the Freedom of Speech Award to Hurriyet's editor-in-chief Sedat Ergin for his defense of freedom of the press in Turkey. The Global Media Forum also hosted Deutsche Welle's Bobs Awards ceremony, which honors online activists.
But in his closing address, DW Director General Peter Limbourg noted that Europe also needed to evaluate its own actions and see whether they represented the values it wanted other countries to adopt.
"We don't even live according to these values sometimes," Limbourg said, pointing to not only environmental issues on the continent, but also arms and diplomacy agreements that contribute to foreign conflicts.
Recognizing these flaws "doesn't diminish our values, but it is a strong reminder to live according to our values and not just preach them."
The topic for next year's conference - the tenth anniversary of the Global Media Forum - has not been determined. According to GMF Managing Director Patrick Leusch, organizers are considering altering the format to connect participants ahead of the event and perhaps move away from an annual theme.