Tag Archives: Brussels

Talking about the future

London from the Tate Modern, a view

My sister and I were talking about travelling a while ago and she described it as exciting. Who knows, you could end up sitting next to the man of your dreams, soulmate etc.

I think of travelling as exactly the opposite. It is the one time I get to be on my own and do exactly what I want to do. My biggest fear is that I’ll end up on a journey without pen or paper or even a book. I prize my time alone.

So when Steve Bavister sat across from me on the train from London Paddington I didn’t pay him much attention. I was sitting at one table that seats four and he sat diagonally opposite. He was with another guy who sat across the aisle at the other table where another young woman was sitting.

Bavister and his companion chit chatted for a while and I noticed that he had a copy of every newspaper. They were both inclusive and friendly but I kept on reading my book The Universal Journalist* and eating my M&S quinoa salad.

There was then a mention of vegetarians and he apologised with a look towards my salad. Then they discussed the papers he was carrying and said something about the media. He then said sorry in case I was a journalist and nodded towards the book. I said I wasn’t and after that we got chatting.

Bavister is an NLP trainer and had previously edited a magazine so when I said I’d like to be a journalist he gave me some suggestions and then we discussed some things we’d both read in the papers over the last few weeks including a comedy stand up act.

He’d been trying to get me to say what my goal was for the future. I said I didn’t know. We circled back to a different topic and then his stop was approaching at swindon and he tried to get me to say it again and I avoided the question. As he stood to get hs bag he asked if you did know, what would it be? I answered ‘ I’d be a journalist in Brussels working for the Telegraph’. ‘Then do it’ he said and he left.

I was amazed. The Telegraph? Really? But it felt real and I felt energised and full of clarity.

That was two years ago. I signed up to do a distance learning course in news reporting. I even applied for a job in Brussels that wasn’t realistic but it was a beginning at least. I was aiming for August 2010 but that didn’t work out.

I would love to meet Mr Bavister again to figure out my next goal. I’m not sure it’s Brussels anymore.

* affiliate link to Amazon.

Image

Brussel Bikes

Brussel Bikes

Looking, Grand Place



looking, originally uploaded by still awake.

looking



looking, originally uploaded by still awake.

St Catherines, windows



St Catherines, windows, originally uploaded by still awake.

St Catherine’s, on the side



St Catherine’s, on the side, originally uploaded by still awake.

Hotel de Ville



Hotel de Ville, originally uploaded by still awake.

By the people, TH!NK3

‘It’s about the people’ was the phrase that kept making itself heard over the two days of the registration conference for the TH!NK3 blogging competition. The theme is development but it all comes down to how it affects people.

For the two days 22-23 March, the people involved were the 100 participants who had signed up to blog about this round’s theme. We came from countries from all corners of the world such as Mexico, United States, Australia, Bulgaria, Greece, UK, Portugal, South Africa, Iceland and Romania. We were all gathered in Brussels to begin our journey on evaluating how countries around the world had progressed in “facing the biggest issues known to man“. 10 years ago, world leaders embraced the challenge of such goals as ending poverty and hunger, providing universal education, and promoting women’s rights. Now with five years before the Millennium Development Goals are meant to be achieved UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on world leaders to attend a summit in New York on 20-22 September 2010 to boost progress towards them. We were gathered together to write and report about global cooperation and sustainable development in the lead up to the summit.

The competition is organised by the European Journalism Centre and follows TH!NK2 which focused on Climate Change and TH!NK which focused on the European Parliament elections.

We all gathered together for a three-course dinner within a casual environment designed to promote introductions between us and provide a closer glance at the competition itself. The participants did not need to be bloggers to be chosen but to be in with a chance to win a reporting experience, to either New York, Asia or Africa, 20 posts need to be written between March 24 and the end of August. Like it or not we would end up being bloggers and part of the media.

This information was presented during the dinner and afterwards a few groups of people went out to explore the city via its many bars through the side streets in the city centre. The late night excursions were reflected in the red eyes of more than a few of the participants at the all-day conference.

The schedule however provided for much interest and enthusiasm. The focus on development was augmented by the training and encouragement in journalism with tips on how to best promote, structure and utilise our work.

Marina Ponti, Director of Europe for the Millennium Campaign, provided the keynote speech and introduced us to the idea that “[t]he main obstacle is not lack of resources, or lack of technology. It’s the lack of political will”.

A panel of development journalists provided an international dimension of coverage with perspectives and examples from Guy Degen (independent journalist and trainer), Linord Rachel Moudou (Voice of America), Helmut Osang (DW), Thomas Seifert (Die Presse) and moderator Oliver Wates. They kept coming back to the idea that the issues may be overarching and affect nations and organisations but ultimately the effect is always local.

Most of the participants had some passing link to journalism, whether it was as practising, aspiring or student journalists. Some had a little trouble in making the transition from ‘reading’ the media to ‘being’ the media. Why do the press get it wrong? questioned one audience member and why aren’t they interested in important stories? Why Tiger Woods rather than starving children. Oliver Wates, former Reuters development journalist and trainer, stressed objectivity, addressing both sides of a story, and the two dimensions of importance and interest.

Whether people learn about slums in India through Slumdog Millionaire or about the human sacrifices in trade via Blood Diamond, we are now the ones responsible for getting the message out. So it begins.

Lonely traveller



Lonely traveller, originally uploaded by still awake.

One more traveller sitting and contemplating in front of the Hotel de Ville

Using the Guardian as inspiration

A New York Times review of So Much For That by Lionel Shriver has the reviewer Leah Hager Cohen remark that the content in the novel about healthcare and the economy sounds more like editorial. She goes on to say that this might reflect Shriver’s journalistic status as a regular contributor to The Guardian of London”. Of London? I’d not heard references to the Guardian framed in such a way before so I searched and the location specific reference does not appear to originate from the newspaper.

I realise that there are other newspapers entitled ‘Guardian’ (Guardian of Nigeria, The News Guardian of North Tyneside, the Croydon Guardian, the Sutton Guardian and a few others out there) so there must be some need to whittle it down to specifics.

The references to the London location were mostly from American newspapers and one of the most interesting articles I came across was by the Nieman Journalism Lab. The project is “a collaborative attempt to figure out how quality journalism can survive and thrive in the Internet age” and is run by Harvard University. The article is about the MP expenses scandal which was brought to light by the Daily Telegraph and then opened up to the public by the Guardian. The analysis explores how interaction is promoted and how value is gained from the audience.

The Daily Telegraph had gained access to over 2 million documents and once they were made publicly available they were put online by the Guardian. 170,000 documents were reviewed in the first 80 hours, thanks to a visitor participation rate of 56 percent. The Nieman Lab talked to the developer, Simon Willison, and he had some tips on how to get people involved in providing valuable information: make it fun, give people a goal to share, provide a narrative (a purpose) and make it personal.

The Guardian (in London) makes it look good and promotes a level of interaction which is very high. The European Journalism Centre (ECJ) also looks to provide interaction, involvement and high quality results and has funded a European blogging competition, TH!NK3 in pursuit of such goals as

  • promote high quality journalism through professional training, particularly in a European context;
  • provide a forum for discussion, debate, and exchanges of views and experience for journalists, editors, media executives and other media professionals;

Th!nk3 is the third global blogging competition funded by the EJC. It will focus on sustainable development and global cooperation in the lead up to the high-level plenary meeting on the Millennium Development Goals at the UN 65th session of the General Assembly in September 2010.

The competition brings together journalists, journalism students, academics and experts from 27 EU Member States, neighbourhood countries and beyond, to write about global cooperation in international development. TH!NK3: Developing World will run from 24 March, 2010 to 31 August, 2010.

I will be attending the Brussels launch event, which will include speakers, workshops and opportunities for all participants to meet each other and network as a team. TH!NK3: Developing World will also offer the project’s top bloggers the chance to cover the issues from the field via reporting expeditions to Asia, Africa and New York City. In order to qualify for these awards, participants must blog at least 20 times throughout the competition.

Lionel Shriver’s latest work follows on her acclaimed success as the author of We Need to Talk About Kevin which was a winner of the Orange Book Prize. As the NYT reviewer mentions, “the questions this novel raises about human existence prove less ontological than economic” and the story is about a man planning to leave his current unfulfilling existence to a place where money is worth more, an island off Tanzania. The UN Millennium Goals are

  • End Poverty and Hunger
  • Universal Education
  • Gender Equality
  • Child Health
  • Maternal Health
  • Combat HIV/AIDS
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Global Partnership

and the work involved will look at reasons that take account of economics but are more about everyone coming together and working towards a better world. Readers of this blog will get to read (or at least note) these posts and while I’m excited about the opportunity I also welcome any interaction from others. The next step is to figure out how to make it fun. Ideas are always welcome.