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“Investigative Journalism in Europe”

August 23 – 26, 2010, Potsdam

The M100 Youth Media Workshop is part of the prominent annual international media conference known as the M100 Sanssouci Colloquium, which will take place this year in Potsdam, Germany for the sixth time. The workshop is directed at a young generation of journalists and editors between the ages of 18 of 26 from all over Europe. In addition to the cultivation of practical and theoretical knowledge relating to journalism and journalistic work, the workshop also seeks to generate long-term links and contact among participants. This fruitful exchange is an important factor, seeing as it presents a once-in-a-lifetime chance for many participants to gain first-hand experience of the conditions under which their fellow journalists from different political and social systems live and work. It also fosters recognition and an understanding of other countries and encourages an appreciation of democratic values, tolerance and mutual understanding. In particular for participants from young European nations, such as Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine, Montenegro and Moldavia, the M100 Youth Media Workshop is often their first opportunity to visit a Western European country. It gives them the opportunity to pursue and/or further their career, to generate contacts to European colleagues and to decisively broaden their horizon. Responses to previous workshops prove that the event is highly successful in promoting this kind of productive exchange: even several years later, over 90 percent of participants are still in contact via E-Mail, Facebook and other communication channels.

In 2010, the Youth Media Workshop will be devoted to the theme of “Investigative Journalism.”
Investigative journalism is the most challenging form of journalism. In addition to a high level of professionalism, courage and perseverance, it involves a long process based on precise research, the development of solid contacts and the acquisition of comprehensive background knowledge. Today, a decreasing number of media bodies are performing this type of reporting. In Germany, too, the number of journalists working in a truly “investigative” manner is relatively small: the costs involved are too high, the required effort is too great and there is simply not enough time. In addition, there is a fundamental lack of recognition of how investigative journalism even functions (indeed, it is far from journalism’s prevailing principle of “cut-and-paste”). And, unfortunately, the situation in other European countries does not appear to be much better. Especially in younger democracies, journalists who pursue investigative journalism not only encounter tremendous resistance; they also often confront direct threats to their lives and livelihoods. However, since investigative journalism forms a major part of the so-called “fourth Estate” function that the media play in democratic societies – i.e. as a monitor of political bodies and companies – it is tremendously important to educate young journalists throughout Europe and to better familiarize them with the topic.
The workshops, which are headed by professional investigative journalists, are designed to include both practical exercises (i.e., an introduction to investigative journalism, research practices, maintaining informants, modes of questioning, etc.) as well as theoretical matters (i.e., What function does investigative journalism fulfill and what role will it play in the digital media landscape of tomorrow?)

To begin with, the roughly 30 participants chosen in the application process are given an introduction to the topic of investigative journalism, including basic insights into this demanding form of journalistic work. In cooperation with the German investigative-journalism network known as “Netzwerk Recherche”, a number of workshops will discuss the basic foundations and conditions required for investigative research, while also providing an explanation of potential strategies and the carrying out of practical exercises. The various circumstances, commonalities and differences in each European country will be explored based on the applications submitted by the participants, each of which describes the situation of investigative journalism in their respective countries.
The call for applications will go out via a number of different platforms and networks, including the European Youth Press (a cooperation partner of Germany’s JMWS), embassies, media, Facebook, the European Commission, universities and many more. This year, applicants will be asked to submit a text no longer than three pages, entitled “The force of the fourth Estate – investigative journalism in my country”.
The application deadline is July 6, 2010 (click here to view the application call).

The workshop will be held in English. He takes place in co-operation with Netzwerk Recherche, the European Youth Press and the German UNESCO Commission in the Electronic Media School in Potsdam and is supported by the Medienanstalt Berlin-Brandenburg.

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