For ten years reporters from all over the world have flocked to Perugia for Italy's annual International Journalism Festival. For the first time, DW trainees attended the event and were inspired by outstanding speakers.
They say that Perugia is to passionate journalists what Woodstock was to music fans. Clattering along Umbria's country roads in our minivan we figured they could be right.
The International Journalism Festival was well underway when we arrived at the provincial capital sweltering in the 30-degree heat. With gelatos in hand we climbed the hill to the city center, unaware that the real challenge lay ahead: to pick the most exciting and innovative sessions from 150 events featuring 400 guests and spread over 12 locations.
The ice cream helped us not to lose our cool. Sitting in the festive hall in the centuries-old Palazzo dei Priori - the city landmark and one of the festival locations - it was easy to get distracted by the hall’s spectacular arched ceiling.
We stayed focused, though, when Matt Waite from the Drone Journalism Lab in Nebraska got on stage. He began his talk by flying a drone around the hall and over the audience's heads.
But it won't just be drones that play an important role in shaping the future of our trade. We'll also be making an impact, and so will our traineeship.
DW traineeship on stage in Italy
DW's journalism traineeship was one of the focuses of a panel discussion entitled "Why is journalism training just like it was 20 years ago?" Trainee Maximiliane Koschyk stepped in for head of training Ramón García-Ziemsen and talked about her own experiences.
In discussion with panel members John Crowley, UK editor-in-chief of the International Business Times and representatives from the Hamburg Media School (HMS), Koschyk described the standard features of German journalism traineeships to the international audience.
The discussion in Perugia clearly showed how DW's international traineeship combines innovation with skills of the trade. It was no accident that DW had been invited to join the panel by panel host Ulrike Langer. Back in February Langer, who is a lecturer at the HMS, had conducted a workshop for us on corporate thinking and product development.
The flexibility of its curriculum means DW's traineeship can respond to trends and spark trainees' curiosity. At the Perugia festival we delved into everything from discussions on freedom of the press, to content curation, to new technology in the newsroom. This all gave us inspiration for our upcoming final projects.
We not only learned about how innovative journalism can be but also about how dangerous and problematic the trade has become for many journalists. Al Jazeera reporter Peter Greste, for example, was arrested by Egyptian authorities in 2013 and spent 400 days in prison before being released; in 2015 Germany's prosecutor general accused online journalists Markus Beckedahl and Andre Meister of treason for releasing state secrets (the inquiry was later dropped); and this year, Syrian bloggers of "Raqqa is being slaughtered silently" have been nominated for Deutsche Welle's The Bobs Awards. All of these cases show the public just how essential media freedom is for journalists to carry out their work.
An installation on Perugia's Piazza IV Novembre made it clear that journalists are not alone in this. A bronze life-size sculpture depicts whistleblowers Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning standing on chairs.
The fourth chair is empty, and called for those who had come to Perugia to follow their example, and stand up and be counted.