The motto of DW's sixth Global Media Forum in Bonn is "The Future of Growth: Economic Values and the Media." Participants from around 100 countries made for a colorful start to the three-day conference.
The plenary assembly hall of the former German parliament was buzzing with life. More than 1,500 visitors from the realms of politics, the media and international organizations are participating in this year's Global Media Forum (GMF), and many of them chose to wear national dress.
Colorful African, Asian and South American robes were accompanied by a hubbub of languages. This year, once again, the GMF is a platform for exchanges of views from participants from very different backgrounds - who have, however, all come to Bonn with similar aims.
"I'd like to make contact with people who dream of changing the world, developing new things and improving our daily lives," said Alain Tshiamala, whose solar technology company Green Wish wants to promote sustainable energy projects in Africa.
Focus on journalists
The Global Media Forum is a place where academics and politicians meet and exchange views with business people and journalists. They come from all the corners of the Earth, bringing with them experiences from their own countries and areas of expertise - and are eager to network and make connections.
In the dozens of workshops they are discussing their role as journalists in a world that is rocked by economic, financial and environmental crisis. Even before the conference program officially begins, many participants are already standing in little groups and are deep in conversation.
The journalist's role is a difficult one. On the one hand, they are supposed to enlighten the public and make them aware of important issues. On the other, they are supposed to highlight abuses and injustices, and call the perpetrators to account.
In politically unstable or economically disadvantaged regions, their work can be hugely important. This was one topic of discussion at the GMF, for example in the workshop "Why it is important to keep small newspapers, radio and television stations in rural areas." Several workshops also addressed the links between economic and journalistic interests.
The Mayor of Bonn, Jürgen Nimptsch, announced that he was delighted that the GMF was increasingly having an effect, saying he had noticed that topics of discussion at the conference often resurfaced at, for example, the United Nations. "It also has a very special dynamic," he added, "when you think that what we discuss here then goes out all across the world, because of all our participants."
Maria Radyati from Jakarta's Trisakti University believes that all over the world the importance of the media is increasingly extending far beyond the task of reporting. "The media have to inspire people, move them, and educate them," she explained. A professor of social sciences, she was looking forward to discussions with media experts and hoped to be able to contribute her experiences from Indonesia.
Ubale Musa is DW's correspondent in the Nigerian capital Abuja. The journalist hopes that the conference will have an effect well beyond the three days in Bonn, and that the participants will go home with a different perspective on how economics influences the world. "The media can make sure that people are informed about the cost of the financial crisis," he said. "Something has to be done to make sure it doesn't happen again."
The principle of diversity
The GMF's program makes it easy for people to start thinking outside the box. Participants vary from the German government's Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (Society for International Cooperation: GIZ) to environmental organizations, foundations from all over the world, and young start-up entrepreneurs looking for people to invest in their ideas.
Sanjay Goel, for example, who is looking for new ways his Internet company Oximity can make its mark in the news industry. "I'd like to show people how the Internet can and will turn news broadcasting completely on its head," he said. He was reluctant to go into detail - but with so many news professionals at the GMF he'll have to get used to answering questions.
Over the three days of the conference, around 2,500 people are expected to attend more than 50 events at the GMF. Highlights include keynote speeches by Vandana Shiva, the human rights activist and winner of the Alternative Nobel Prize, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, and the renowned American linguist and activist Avram Noam Chomsky.
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