At DW Akademie's invitation, prominent Latin American members of the media, politics, civil society and the academic community gathered in Bogotá to discuss the challenges and chances facing the continent's media.
The multi-stakeholder meeting in the Colombian capital was the first of its kind in Latin America - and Twitter went wild. "A dream has come true," tweeted Edison Lanza, press freedom expert for the Organization of American States, from the venue in Bogotá. "All media and civil society actors, journalists and regulators have come together to talk about media development on the continent."
The international conference was the final event in a series of consultations that DW Akademie organized this year as part of a joint project with the US-based Center for International Media Assistance. The project, "Media Development and the Governance Debate: Reframing the Agenda", looked at ways that local activists and international players could support media reforms, form alliances and encourage governments to create more open and independent media systems.
"This is an historic meeting. It's the first time that such diverse stakeholders from across Latin America have come together in one room to tackle the problems our media systems are facing," said Guilherme Canela, UNESCO's Adviser in Communication and Information for Latin America. "One cannot discuss freedom of expression and media development without bringing together representatives from all groups concerned," he said.
DW Akademie's goal in jointly running this project is to put media development on the broader development agenda. This includes gaining the cooperation of partners in the developing world.
The regional consultations, "Medios Libres e Independientes en Sistemas Mediáticos Plurales y Diversos," were aimed at debating the challenges and requirements specific to the Latin American stakeholders, and identifying potential solutions at national and regional levels. DW Akademie and CIMA succeeding in bringing numerous partners on board, amongst them the OAS Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, UNESCO, Autoridad Nacional de Televisión and the Gabriel García Márquez Foundation (FNPI).
During various panel discussions and workshops, the 130 participants from nearly every Latin American nation - among them several DW Akademie project partners - identified the four biggest problems facing the continent's media systems: the degree of media concentration, media regulation, media sustainability and the safety of media professionals. They discussed a large number of requirements and possible future steps in Latin America that could help improve the position of freedom of expression and access to information.
At a special workshop on the fringes of the event, Petra Berner, head of DW Akademie's Strategy and Consulting Services, introduced Latin American project sponsors to DW Akademie's new digital vision. In addition, the Global Forum for Media Development, with support from DW Akademie, organized a side event looking at how journalists and media from around the world can contribute to fulfilling clause 16.10 of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.
There was a huge response to the two-day conference. The event hashtag #mediosplurales was one of the main trending topics in Bogotá and across Colombia, as well as in Washington, Caracas and Medellín. In 2016, conferences will be held in Africa to introduce the project there.