© 2012 Jacob Balzani Lööv. All rights reserved.

Perugia – International Journalism Festival 2012

I was not expecting to be so excited by the International Journalism Festival in Perugia. The quality of the talks was very high and I became really interested in the big changes journalism is facing, and will face in the coming years.

The fact that this conference is held in Italy, a country that during the last 20 years lost most of his freedom of speech, might be a good sign. Many English journalist were present having always being a reference for many italians writers during these difficult years.

I like the little word -journalist which come after photo-. Being a photojournalist is to have the honor of telling other-people stories  through a wonderful media which is photography. The difficult thing is not to push too much our own ego to show how good we might be, forgetting that the main subject is them, not us. I was happy to see that many journalist define themselves as activist, as a kind of watchdog to check that the people in power are following their promises.

The possibility to share informations directly through the internet, is making obsolete the traditional way of distribute news. Newspapers and Televisions, the main sources of incomes for journalist in all the different media are struggling to survive. This doesn’t mean journalism is dead, even if thousands of information/pictures are available still verifying facts remain invaluable. Still being able to be in the particular place where a story is going on makes a difference: it shows that someone else is caring for what is happening and came to see, sometimes to share, and then to tell. We are at the point where new form of financing have to find their way to allow for a rebirth of journalism. A good journalism accessible to everyone, economically detached by governments and lobbies, financed by whoever believe in its values, unveiling as much  injustices as possible.

Let’s just be optimistic for now. I will add some short portrait of interesting people I met at the Festival. For the moment I made a list of the talks which I found particularly enlightening (all the non-italian authors speak english in the videos).

The new civic journalism

  • with: Charlie Beckett,Heather Brooke,Fabio Chiusi
  • How can new technologies be used to provide public interest journalism? Is WikiLeaks and social media the way to hold power to account through the internet? Heather Brooke, the journalist who broke the British MPs expenses scandal, will speak on the need for freedom of information.

After phone-hacking: cleaning up journalism

  • with: David Aaronovitch,Charlie Beckett,Claudio Giua,Amelia Hill
  • The phone-hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch’s News International has led to a wide-ranging inquiry by Lord Leveson into the ethics of the British press. But how rotten is journalism in the UK compared to that in other countries? Italy for example. And how should regulation and media rights be balanced? Amelia Hill, the journalist who broke the phone-hacking story, will reveal how far the abuses went and who was responsible.

Kony2012: 100 million views online. Conclusions?

  • with: Charlie Beckett,Martin Dawes,Kevin Doris Ejon,Evgeny Morozov,Mario Tedeschini Lalli
  • Kony 2012, the controversial 30-minute video produced by the non-profit association Invisible Children, which in the space of a little more than a week following its release in March 2012 was viewed some 100 million times, is an undoubted triumph of guerilla marketing. It has set a benchmark for the use of social networks for mass mobilisation campaigns. But it has also attracted significant criticism, leading to a wide-ranging and interesting debate on activism and social media strategy.

Information wants to be free

  • with: Liliana Bounegru,Heather Brooke,Lucy Chambers,Helen Darbishire,Steve Doig 
  • Diving into Data: The School of Data Journalism at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia
  • In the past investigative reporters would suffer from a scarcity of information relating to questions they were trying to answer. While this is still the case, today journalists are also faced with an overwhelming abundance of data. In an age of information overload, to stay relevant to society journalists need to learn to separate signal from noise in order to provide valuable insights. Journalists need to be equipped with knowledge of the tools, techniques and tactics of working with data in order to derive maximum value from for their readers.

European media startup success stories

  • with: Nicola Bruno,Thierry Chervel,Yann Guegan,Turi Munthe,Johanna Vehkoo
  • In the last few years Europe has seen a nouvelle vague of independent journalistic start-ups. Following in the footsteps of The Huffington Post, Politico and Gawker, many journalists and young entrepreneurs of the Old Continent have decided to set up new online media outfits. In so doing they’ve begun to change the rules of the game and drain power away from mainstream media. All of these start-ups have had to face head on the tough realities of web media in Europe (fragmented audiences based on language, an advertising market significantly less rich than in the USA, etc). Many have folded, some remain alive thanks to the generosity of benefactors, few have really prospered.

Whistleblowers and anonymous leaks: can the media do without them?

  • with: Luca De Biase,Arturo Filastò,Kristinn Hrafnsson,Alessandro Rodolfi,Guido Romeo
  • Whistleblowing is on the increase, with Wikileaks the tip of the iceberg and with traditional journalism heaving hard in the effort to keep up. A consideration of the current state of play, with a focus on the thorny issues of anonymity, verification and the involvement of third parties.

Integral Media: the future of mass media in the age of social networks

  • with: Francesca Caferri,Wadah Khanfar
  • Integral Media: the future of mass media in the age of social networks. Keynote speech by Wadah Khanfar. Introduction by Francesca Caferri.

From bits to Pulitzer: when journalism in the public interest scores a scoop

  • with: Caelainn Barr,Dan Nguyen,Guido Romeo,Paige St. John,Elisabetta Tola
  • When bit met data sparks did fly. Introducing journalists and software engineers, or more broadly journalism and advanced data sorting software, has resulted in investigative reporting of a depth and sophistication that would perhaps have been unthinkable just a few years ago. The Florida insurance industry, EU project funding and payments by pharmaceutical multinational to thousands of doctors are just three recent exemplary cases. The first, a two-year investigation into the arcane Florida property insurance system, won Paige St John the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism, one of the highest accolades in the profession. Paige will be on the panel to tell her story. She will be joined by Caelainn Barr and Dan Nguyen who have been involved in the the second and third examples. Journalism in the public interest by virtue of putting into the public domain information of legitimate public concern which would otherwise have remained hidden.

Images of revolution

  • with: Ali Bouazizi,Donatella Della Ratta,Ibrahim Hamdan,Imma Vitelli
  • Images are like weapons. They can help topple a regime.” Ali al-Bouazizi, political analyst. The uprisings that have shaken the Arab world were galvanised by photographs and videos taken by ordinary citizens using their mobile phones. Spread via social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, these images offered the outside world a glimpse inside countries such as Tunisia and Egypt as the people took to the streets to overthrow their dictators and to demand justice.?? These images publicised their cause and spurred on would-be revolutionaries elsewhere, in the process transforming ordinary citizens into citizen reporters who could circumvent state-run media to tell their story. Many of these citizens risked their own personal safety as they recorded the events unfolding around them. But the result was often iconic images that have come to symbolise the Arab Spring, a process many analysts speculate would have taken a very different course were it not for the images that captivated the world. Images of Revolution is the story behind the iconic images of the Arab uprisings as told by those who filmed and photographed them.

The future of news: education

  • with: Sarah Cohen,Josh Kalven,Dan Nguyen,Justin Peters
  • Promoting news and computer literacy is essential if a new generation of responsible digital citizens is to emerge. The panel will consider why it’s important for news organizations to give engaged citizens the tools to become articulate participants in any given discussion, and why they should become hubs for teaching and knowledge creation. Organised in association with Columbia Journalism Review

Transnational investigative journalism

  • with: Cecilia Anesi,Roman Anin,Giulio Rubino,Blaz Zgaga
  • The panel will show how cross-border investigations done by international teams of journalists can expose corruption and crime. Three examples have been chosen.



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