Citizen Media in Germany and Europe

In the framework of a german-polish journalistic academy in Svitiaz, Ukraine, the manager of the Bürgerhaus Bennohaus, Dr. Joachim Musholt, gave an expert input about the meaning of citizen media and the opportunities for citizens to take part in political and social issues in Europe by using the channels of citizen media. After a short introduction about the German media system he focussed on citizen media. He gave examples of his work at the Bennohaus in Muenster. “It’s all about learning by doing“, he said and presented some of the numerous web tv formats of the web tv channel open.web.tv, which is located in the Bennohaus and where people produce their own citizen media broadcasts. “Citizens need such possibilities and organisations to actively get involved into publicness”. Transparency is the base for democracy, he claimed. By the foundation of the ‘European Youth4Media Network’ association Dr. Musholt tries to build up an europeanwide network that motivates Europeans to get actively involved in civic engagement. Via the internet platform www.youth4media.com young people from 46 member organisations in 31 countries publish broadcasts dealing with international topics of civic engagement. Thereby they change perspectives. “This change of perspective is what democracy is built of”, Musholt explained. Also the European Parliament asked his member states to support citizen media and offer the needed infrastructure. Dr. Musholt is actively working on this, for example by organizing international partnerships and media seminars like the german-polish journalistic academy in Svitiaz, Ukraine which is financially supported by the foundation for german-polish cooperation.

Justina Fink, 20 from Münster

Public media: a nostrum or a cure for Ukrainian society­?

Maidan in Ukraine, which started at November 2013, changed many things in our country. Including media-space, that had a passive style of existing before. The small revolution started here too: in one moment, young people with handy-cams and PC tablets replaced experienced journalists with expensive cameras. Than Ukraine heard about “Hromadske TV” (Public TV – in eng.). Being a non-commercial organization, “Hromadske” united independent journalists from all over the country and became one of the first public media on Ukraine. In times of Maidan TV was losing in all fronts – when young guys with PC tablets were streaming all main events of day in live, news channels was telling about it only in evening shows. That’s why short but actual video reports of “Hromadske TV” took hundreds thousands views on Youtube while media-giants such as “TSN” were publishing their material only on official web-site of channel. Maidan was a serious exam for first popular Ukrainian public TV. And later the popularity of “Hromadske” was only rising. And sometimes ago branch of this media, which united independent journalists and public activists, appeared in city where I live – in Lutsk. There are much discussions in society about is the media, which created by non-professionals, is working well. But in facts, public media play their main role in society – they are presenting objective and truth information for people. In Ukraine all successful media, which making money for themselves and are really independent, we can count on fingers. It’s a pity, but many medias has an owner (as a rule – statesman or a businessman). This person gives money for media, but instead lobbying for his or her interests. Also there are many medias that are financed by a government and have to tell only positive about their owners. That’s why it’s very hard to take objective information. Especially in case, when government has a monopoly for propaganda (as it is in Russia, for example). As far as I considered, popularization independent public media will be the best solution of this problem. They should intermediate in communication of people with government and inside of society. Also, fair medias are one of the best ways to control the work of statesman and make their work more opened and clear for others.This model implemented in many countries of Europe and shows positive results. I’m sure, that all changes in country should be started in people, but not from making reforms and new laws. At least, from the truth, and our want to take on it, depends in what country we will be living. Will it be democratic European nation, or totalitarian place without freedom of word and views, like Russia today is.

Ivan Savich, 21 from Lutsk

Together for free media - Since 26th of July until the 1st of September at the Switaz lake (Volyn) in Ukraine International Meeting on the subject of citizen medias is taking place.

Scientists, journalists, students and representatives of non-governmental organizations from Poland, Germany and Ukraine take part in the seminar – conference titled „New media and social involvement”. The aim of the meeting is exchange of experiences and knowledge about citizen medias. On the 27th of July, the day of the official opening of the seminars, first presentations about the discussed problem started. Joahim Mushalt, the chairman of the organization Burgerhaus Bennohaus, defined , what are social media and pointed out the need of their creation. He also highlighted that they are made because of the need of each citizen to express his or her opinion about a subject at hand and also that the published information were most honest. The premise of the functionality of the discussed phenomenon is the rule that all the members of the community have the ability to comment on the reality in a corresponding way while integrating with each other. Citizen society cannot be controlled by the authorities and be influenced by the state nor the commercial media. What is why the citizen media are also known as democratic media. Mushalt also pointed out the specificity of the German society. Three types of media exist in that country: state, private (commercial) and civil (social) media. The last ones function in the area of every land and are led by social organizations, such as Burgerhaus Bennohaus. At the end of his presentation the speaker pointed out the solutions used in European Union, which help building civil media. Internet platforms are used to do that: open.web.tv and Youth4media. Afterwards there was the presentation of Piotr Pniewski, worker of Elblag association of supporting non-governmental initiatives. He described the condition of polish civil media in the Warmian-Masurian region. He described the creation of civil television and mentioned the example of the monthly magazine Pozarzadowiec (beyond the government). Other interesting experience of Poland in the described subject in portal ngo.pl. Thanks to it each citizen has the right to write a suitable information. After a linguistic correction it is submitted to the website. Other than that many websites exist in Poland which make it easy for citizens to put their own thoughts and opinions. A good example of such sites would be Wiadomosci24.pl (news24) and TwojaEuropa.pl (YourEurope). Grzegorz Konopski, one of the participants of the meeting believes that Poland is only just crawling when it comes to social media. In his opinion more Poles should use this type of solutions and engage in its creation. He himself is moving soon to Germany to do just that, working for a year for the organization Burgerhaus Bennohaus. After coming back to Poland he would like to use his newly acquired abilities.

Agnieszka Bader (Аґнєшка Бондер), 23 from Poland

Video workshop with Ukrainian students

Nine participants took part in the video-workshop given by two professional media trainers of Germany. Basic camera functions, picture composition, how to focus, camera angles – all attendees learned how to use a camera from the first steps. After getting to know these facts and camera techniques they had to draw and write their own imagined storybook for a self-chosen scene. The presentation of the drawn scenes was not only very funny but also showed if they regarded the hints of the media trainers. Before the workshop came to an end there was of course time to practice on the professional cameras, microphones and light equipment. Everybody had the chance to try out every position, like sound, interviewee, reporter, filming and light. Thereafter all attendees watched the results of their work on a big screen, discussing the good and bad parts and getting a supporting feedback by their trainers.