Edinburgh became, from 4th to 6th September, a global hub for ambitious journalists from around the world. About 100 delegates from 20 different countries, including me for ION News and another journalist from Mauritius, were selected by the British Council. The journalists gathered at the Scottish Parliament for Future News 2015, a unique event which aims to inspire the next generation of media professionals. Future News was initially set up by the Herald and Times group last year as part of the Commonwealth Games legacy programme. The theme chosen this year was ‘Business of the News’. The delegates, with varying levels of media sophistication and editorial balance, were given the opportunity to network with top journalism and media professionals during workshops and masterclasses.
We were briefed on everything from press freedom to writing, the use of social media as well as practical video skills. We were given a thorough understanding of ethical standards in journalism and media production. Industry leaders from CNN, BBC and Reuters shared their experiences on how their respective companies are struggling to soar their ratings because of the precarious nature of the media industry. Jim Waterson, the representative from viral website Buzzfeed, explained how a simple idea can develop into something big but the struggle now would be to “stay alive in the industry on a long-term”.
British and award-winning reporter Sue Turton’s briefing was definitely the highlight of the Summit. She is a war and foreign correspondent currently on the run after being sentenced in abstentia to ten years in prison by the Egyptian court. She is accused of aiding terrorists while working as an Al-Jazeera reporter. She gave us a chilling insight into her work as a war correspondent and shared her experiences of when she was covering in the Middle East. For instance, she had to move after each and every broadcast since Gaddafi was watching and would set out to kill her and her photographer. “We were targets as much as the soldiers were.” She also stressed on the importance of being constantly vigilant and knowing who to trust while being on different missions. Some journalists unfortunately fell up into the hands of ISIS after trusting the wrong persons.
What is the future of journalism? The journalists at the conference were introduced to the use of news-gathering drones as well as virtual reality headsets underlining the fact that journalists could be creating reports with virtual reality technologies.
Karen Cunningham, Director of Future News, said: “We hope bringing these budding young journalists to Scotland, and our iconic parliament building, will reinforce the importance of an independent, diverse and thriving press to a democratic society.”