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'Media. Freedom. Values': DW's Global Media Forum kicks off in Bonn

What is the role of the media when a major crisis hits, or in a world of growing censorship and disinformation? How does media deal with not being trusted? Deutsche Welle's ninth Global Media Forum takes a closer look.

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Germany's President Gauck speaks to the DW Global Media Forum

"In today's digital age, it has become easier to distribute disinformation and to manipulate. Therefore, we need to rethink the way in which we perceive, demonstrate and spread our values," said DWs Director General Peter Limbourg in his opening speech.

"Delivering our journalistic content to our audiences is calling for a new approach" he continued, setting the tone for the three-day event in Bonn, Germany.

Recognizing the significance of how information and opinions are spread and shaped by social media Peter Limbourg pointed to DW's new Digital strategy refocussing its image as a digital global information provider:

"DW has proven relations with more than four thousand distribution partners around the world, who are helping us to distribute our content and making it possible for us to reach out to ever more people... Mobile access to information is a growing factor in many of DW's target markets."

Some 2300 guests are expected in Bonn when DW's Global Media Forum takes place between the 13th and 15th of June. A mix of journalists, politicians, artists and activists from over 100 countries will be in attendance to take part in some 40 events.

There will be some big names on hand too. The Vice-President of the European Parliament Alexander Graf Lambsdorff will be there, as will the Vice-President of the German Parliament Claudia Roth, German Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Andrea Nahles and the Chairman of the Munich Security Conference, Wolfgang Ischinger.

Attendees will also get the chance to get to know some new faces, like Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, the winner of the "Alternative Nobel Prize," or the Egyptian street artist Abo Bakr or the Palestinian-Syrian pianist Aeham Ahmad. The conference closing address will be held by Christiana Figueres, the outgoing Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Workshops, interaction and talk shows

DW Director General Peter Limbourg says that the Global Media Forum will offer solution-oriented workshops, interactive formats and inspirational speeches.

"We will discuss digital strategies for the future of international media, human rights, reductions in freedom of the press, arts and culture - as well governance and development work," Limbourg explains.

"But the focus will always be on the role of the media, and the development of journalism," he adds.

Deutsche Welle won't just be organising the event, but will also be creating journalistic content across the three days, which guests can take part in. The popular DW program "Shababtalk" and a new interview format on human rights, featuring Cuban journaist Yoani Sanchez, will be recorded at the conference.

A place for minds

For the Managing Director of the Global Media Forum, Patrick Leusch, one thing is particularly important: just as DW is "made for minds", Leusch wants to see the GMF turn into a "place for minds".

"If you want to make that a reality, you have to make sure a forum like this includes people who can contribute something special, who want to change the world a little bit," Leusch says.

"That could be a blogger, someone who is working in his or her community for an NGO or it could be a political player."

Freedom of Speech Award and The Bobs

According to Leusch, a must-see at the GMF will be the presentation of the Freedom of Speech Award to Sedat Ergin, from the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet.

"I am really looking forward to what Sedat Ergin has to say, and also Kai Diekmann, who will introduce him," says Leusch.

"He is someone who definitely doesn't mince his words," Leusch adds. "The Axel Springer publishing house (Diekmann's employer) is currently being taken to court by (Turkish president) Mr Erdogan."

As well as the Freedom of Speech Award, the second day of the conference will see the announcement of the main winners of the DW competition "The Bobs – Best of Online Activism."

The internationally-renowned prize this year goes to a citizen journalism project in Bangladesh and an app developer in Iran who created an app warning about morality police in the country. A campaign speaking up against acid attacks in India, as well as the German-based "Center for Political Beauty" have also been recognised.

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