Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Injo @ World Economic Forum

I have recently come home from a trip to Dubai, where The World Economic Forum organized the Summit on the Global Agenda. In their own words:
The Summit on the Global Agenda is a new, unique gathering of the world’s most influential thinkers – leaders from academia, business, government and society. Its purpose is to advance solutions to the most critical challenges facing humanity. This inaugural Summit of the members of the Forum’s Global Agenda Councils, the world's foremost intelligence and knowledge network, was held in partnership with the Government of Dubai on 7-9 November.

The world needs to examine the basic operating systems that drive its economies, markets and societies and aim for a “fundamental reboot” to establish a fresh platform based on renewed confidence and trust, and on sustainability, responsibility and ethical principles. That was the over-arching message that 700 of the world’s top thought leaders from business, government, academia and civil society delivered at the end of the inaugural Summit on the Global Agenda, convened by the World Economic Forum in partnership with the Government of Dubai.
I am a member of the Global Agenda Council on the Future of Media, together with Injo-colleagues Willi Rütten, director of the EJC, and Zafar Siddiqi, founder of CNBC Pakistan/Arabiya/Africa (both speakers at IJ-5), and roughly a dozen other top people from the world of journalism.

The detailed issue description of the council is available on the WEF website. WEF had selected the a number of input dimensions for us:
  • Social Media
  • Intellectual Property and Copyright
  • Media and Global International public opinion
  • Media new models
  • The role of Media as public service
  • Women in Media
  • Innovation Journalism
It is gratifying that Injo is included in this list.

We quickly decided that our key issue was the future of journalism, not the media. The challenge is that journalism is needed more than ever - 'we live in an over-connected, under-informed world' and 'journalism is vital to help societies develop'.

Here are some key sentences from our initial report:
The same technology that has allowed people to create and share content has also undercut the media providers that served their communities with information. As blogs and social networks shine a light on new parts of the world, in other parts newspapers are turning the lights shutting down, cutting reporting jobs and

But throughout that change, the professional, public purposes of journalism – to stimulate, educate and inform public debate, and to call to account – remain vital to the process of improving the state of the world.

Journalism needs to be reliable and credible, and that requires training and professional education –especially in societies striving to develop open and representative government. A missing component in many developing countries is a lack of professional journalists.
The full initial report is available here.

We discussed the need for journalism to be hosted by a business model that provides incentives to be loyal to the audience. If it does not, it can lead to conflict of interests. The present business model which is based on controlling the physical medium - that's why it is called the 'media' - does not have a long term future, even if it in certain parts of the world is still doing very well. The council asked itself "So how can we save journalism to help it save the world?"

Not surprisingly, we did not produce a new bumper business model for journalism. The council did, however, suggest that the WEF lifts journalism higher on its agenda. It was discussed if the WEF may start its own initiative for journalism, focussing on the global agenda issues. Here is a snapshot video interview with our council chair Pat Mitchell who is spearheading the idea of a WEF Global News Service.

The overall message from the councils was a call for continued innovation and globalization as we are heading deeper into this mother of financial storms.

Here is the video with the whole ending plenary session of the Summit on the Global Agenda:

Ulrik Haagerup, head of the Danish national news (at 2:18:00 in the video) suggested journalism needs to "re-boot faith in the future". He offered other journalists to join him in making "constructive journalism", journalism looking into possibilities, not only at problems. Ulrik Haagerup, Willi Rütten and I will be running a workshop next summer at the Deutsche Welle Global Media Summit, labelled "Constructive Innovation Journalism".

Klaus Schwab's summary of the Summit can be viewed at 2:19:30 in the video.

I am very much looking forward to continuing working with the Global Agenda Council. Also, the WEF Media and Entertainment Network will be arranging a seminar within the Innovation Journalism Fellowship program 2009.

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