What's the effect of social media on politics? How is the Internet-driven 24-hour news cycle changing media? These issues will be discussed at the 8th Global Media Forum, which kicks off in Bonn on Monday.
Tweets by US President Barack Obama reach his 60 million followers around the globe instantly. With his large following the American president clearly ranks first among tweeting world leaders. Pope Francis comes in a distant second. His Twitter accounts, in nine languages combined, reach some 20 million users. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi ranks third with almost 13 million followers.
The Internet and social media have become important tools for politics and diplomacy. More than 170 heads of state and government maintain personal Twitter accounts. At the same time, the governed increasingly have made their voices heard in global politics as well, via social media, blogs and micro blogs and by sharing information, pictures and videos. The digital revolution has not only reached politics, but is changing it.
With his speech at last year's GMF, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier inspired this year's theme
Room for debate at Global Media Forum
The relationship between media and foreign policy in the digital age is the focus of the #link:http://www.dw.com/global-media-forum/gmf-2015/s-101219:eighth edition# of DW's Global Media Forum. For three days starting on June 22, more than 2,000 participants from 130 countries, including more than 500 journalists, will gather in Bonn to discuss the issue.
They'll be able to sample from a broad mix of individual sessions. What can be done to prevent the Internet from being used for extremist propaganda? What are the security risks arising from conflicts over resources like oil and water? An interactive computer simulation will show how media coverage can influence conflicts that are in the news. Another topic being discussed is how the Ukraine conflict is not only being waged with weapons, but increasingly through the use of propaganda.
Nolting's goal is to close the gap between media and experts
For Ralf Nolting, director at DW Media Services, which organizes the three-day event, the Global Media Forum closes the gap between experts, media and the audience. "We have heard at various symposia that the experts gathered there repeatedly said how important it would be to make the results of those specialized conferences available to a broader public," he said.
But Nolting has also received plenty of positive feedback in recent years from journalists participating in the Global Media Forum. They told him that they could use the knowledge gained in Bonn directly for their work.
"If you add up the reach of the media organizations gathered at the Global Media Forum, we would be quite surprised at the incredibly large number of people we reach globally," said Nolting. He is particularly glad to be able to welcome two very different guests to this year's event.
The first is Vitali Klitschko, the former professional boxer turned mayor of Kyiv. And the second is Scilla Elworthy, who will speak at the end of the conference. "Nominated for the Nobel Peace Price three times, founder of the Oxford Research Group!," raves Nolting. "She's really committed to changing the minds of business and political leaders and doing what's really necessary to make life on this planet possible in the future."
Freedom of press and BoBs
In what has become an annual tradition, the Global Media Forum will be the venue for DW's Best of Blog Awards. This year's honorees include Rafida Bonya Ahmed of Bangladesh. She continues the work of her husband, Avijit Roy, a blogger who advocated secularism who was brutally killed by machete-armed attackers in February.
In addition, and for the first time, the new Freedom of Speech Award will be given to imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi. On his website "Free Saudi Liberals," Badawi has advocated for freedom of expression for many years, criticizing political and societal problems in Saudi Arabia. Seven years ago Badawi was detained for the first time under the charge of having set up an "electronic page which makes fun of Islam." In May 2014, the 31-year-old was sentenced to 1,000 lashes, 10 years in prison and a fine of almost 200,000 euros ($227,300).
Interestingly, the Saudi dynasty is actually quite open when it comes to the Internet and Twitter - under the condition that only content that it deems appropriate is shared. For his part, King Salman has more than 3 million followers on Twitter.