The Finnish Foundation for Media, Communication and Development (VIKES) organized three day seminar for journalists who have recently started their career. The focus was on such topics as timely media issues in global context, sustainable development, natural resources and disasters, migration and war coverage.
During “Media for development” project VIKES gathered journalists from partner organizations which are based in such countries as Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Czech Republic and Slovakia. Project coordinator in Latvia is organization Green Liberty, and it was represented by Iveta Sondore (“Vides Vēstis”), Anna Ūdre (“FEJS Latvija” valdes priekšsēdētāja ) and Santa Logina (“Zemgales Ziņas”).
Iveta Sondore studies anthropology at Riga Stradins University and works as freelancer for “Vides vēstis”. She’s very glad about the experience in Helsinki and believes that such seminars are useful not only for journalism students, but can also be an inspiration for other communication field representatives. “There were some discussions which made great impression on me, because industry representatives were talking about their real life experience, not only theory. I remember panel discussion about reporting on crisis with Pekka Reinikainen from Finnish Red Cross, war photojournalist Niklas Meltio and freelance journalist Aemi Ferris-Rotman. They not only shared their tragic and rich experiences about reporting from warzones and during natural disasters, but also talked about the importance of investigative journalism - to not only cover such issues superficially, but to do bigger research and to find what’s common for all of them,” says Iveta.
„During this three day seminar I met many other young journalists from around Easter Europe who are interested in same topics as I am. It was very refreshing and useful to exchange our thoughts and ideas about media related topics,” says Anna Ūdre. She is currently freelancing for national newspaper in Latvia “Neatkarīgā Rīta Avīze”, working as chairman of the board at independent organization dedicated to young journalists “FEJS Latvija” and studying journalism at Riga Stradins University. “All lectures, discussions and trainings were very useful and also practical. Especially useful was the last day when professional journalists had discussion about safety of freelancers and they were giving tips for going abroad when covering conflicts. They were all full of stories and knowledge,” she adds. Anna thinks it’s very important to organize such projects to meet other professionals and invest in them at early stage of their career.
Santa Logina, journalist of regional newspaper “Zemgales Zinas” (“News of Zemgale Region”), participation in the seminar values as qualitative opportunity of how to expand horizons. “While working at local media, where the most important are local events, the focus on topicalities of world is secondary – as much as they influence local people. Participation in the seminar inspired to think more about everyday life in developing countries and problem areas, where poverty and war goes together with needs of clean water, food, safe and comfortable life. Speakers of the seminar for me opened wider the door to this world,” says Santa. The young journalists in every story were encouraged to look forward for positive things and don't rely on stereotypes. “For example, it was noticed that poverty doesn't mean that a person is stupid – to survive when you don't have anything, you have to be smart. Especially inspiring were journalist Aemi Ferris-Rotman and her stories of women rights in Afghanistan, also the emotional speech of Anurag Acharya and Shiva Gaunle about Nepal after the earthquake in 2015 and potential disasters. Very useful were trainings when journalists were told how to get prepared for travels to developing countries,” says Santa.
Participants agree that seminars like this not only give more knowledge, but also teach how to avoid stereotypes, how to find the truth and pay attention to local problems of developing countries that will affect the whole world sooner or later. It's very important for young journalists to learn it even if their everyday work isn't connected with reporting from developing countries or the war zones. Learn to dig deeper!