After three days of spirited discussions, thousands of tweets and many best practice journalism sessions, DW’s Global Media Forum wrapped up in Bonn on Wednesday - and provided a glimpse of what to expect next year.
For Hussein Dawood, a 30 year old online journalist from Iraq, the trip to Germany was well worth it, not just because of the issues discussed during the eighth edition of DW's annual media get-together, but thanks to its participants.
"I was amazed by the people that came to this conference," said Dawood. "Most workshops contained journalists from different countries. I'm from Iraq and now I have a good idea what is going on in other countries."
Dawood commended the organizers for their selection of the main theme of the conference - media and foreign policy in the digital age - calling it "a very important topic in our days."
That sentiment was shared by Ar Raji, an assistant professor of communications from Bangladesh. "I enjoyed it," said Raji about the Global Media Forum (GMF). "It was an excellent experience."
Asked to single out a workshop that was particularly relevant to him, Raji mentioned the debate on the perils of reporting from conflict zones like Iraq and Libya.
Like the session on conflict reporting, the more than 30 other workshops offered at this year's conference enabled the roughly 2,000 participants from around the world to delve deeply into specific questions relating to digital media and foreign policy.
For instance, in a session devoted to "digital jihad" attendees learned not only how terrorists use social media to drive their pernicious message. They also discussed hands-on strategies on how to counter extremists on the Internet.
Another workshop focused on the human right to freedom of religion in the digital age - a very timely issue that also played a key role in this year's Bobs Awards ceremony, DW's way of honoring digital online activism at the Global Media Forum.
Two of the four Bobs prizes, the inaugural Freedom of Speech award for Raif Badawi and the Bobs Social Change Award for Rafida Bonya Ahmed, were presented to honor Badawi and Ahmed and her murdered husband Avijit Roy's struggle against religious extremism and for freedom of expression on the Internet in their home countries.
But participants at the Global Media Forum did not just engage in theoretical debates about the impact of the Internet and social media on journalism, foreign policy and human rights. They also took to the Web to make their voices heard. Some 5,000 tweets featuring the hashtag #GMF alone went out during the three-day meeting, making the Global Media Forum a key topic of online conversation this week.
Appeal to leaders
In her closing keynote speech, Scilla Elworthy, founder of the Oxford Research Group, offered not only an impromptu prelude to the main theme of next year's Global Media Forum, but also issued a strong appeal to those with political and economic power.
"I am certain that a different future for all of humanity is possible, if leaders wake up," she said. Elworthy urged today's global business leaders to take a page from the younger generations, particularly the so called Millenials, and reconsider their outdated value system still focused on profit maximization, instead of social and environmental objectives.
Global Media Forum 2016
DW Director General Peter Limbourg in his farewell remarks thanked the participants and speakers for not only attending this year's Global Media Forum, but also witnessing the successful launch of DW's new English-language television channel.
He emphasized that a key issue repeatedly touched upon during this year's Global Media Forum was the question of values. "Values such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to express your own opinion. Those are the values that Deutsche Welle stands for and upholds."
Limbourg added that since the interplay of media, freedom and values is essential to living peacefully together in a globalized world, next year's Global Media Forum from June 13-16, 2016, will explore this issue more deeply under the banner: Media. Freedom. Values.