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Jemstone 'graduates' -- where are you now?

The Arab Spring has demonstrated the power of new media. We produced a session last autumn at the IBC in Amsterdam on the ground-breaking way user-generated content has influenced events and is changing mainstream media. The role of new technology has been litterally pivotal.

We were at least part of the background noise in the Middle East. It's exactly twenty years since the European Union launched its Med Media programme, to reach out to journalists across the Mediterranean. We ran the biggest of the projects, the Jemstone Network, with over 1,500 journalists from more than 60 media organisations. We helped to open a lot of eyes.

This network still has much to teach us all. We want to re-energise it; reconnect you all.

IBC in autumn 2013 would be a great opportunity. We have hopes for a follow-up conference session. And for most of you the chance to evaluate the latest technology, meet up again, and share your experiences would be important. So, please, send this link to anyone you still contact who was involved with us; both participants and experts!

We know of Jemstone 'graduates' who've played a significant part in opening up their nation's media and supporting calls for change and debate. There must be many more. We want to hear from you.

The easiest way is to comment on this blog; tell us what's happened to you in the last two years; what media ideas you have now; how the Jemstone Network might help. NB no comments are published directly; they come through me and I will make sure your identity is kept confidential, if that's what you prefer, let us know.

We want to expand the network as well. Our activities in the late 1990s and beyond were hamstrung by the fledgeling ICT's then available. When we began, internet hardly existed; yet still we built and enthused an effective inter-active network. We've often thought how much easier it would have been if we'd begun ten years later. And how much more impact we might have had.

I would like to explore this now. If you believe that 'good' media have a role to play in reshaping society, in giving voice to people's hopes and ideas and preferences, then email us now (tudor at jemstone dot net).

We can expand the network. And share the experiences of the original 1,500 Jemstone 'graduates', enhanced and strengthened by new recruits with the same core beliefs -- that the function of 'good' media is to give people the information they need to take decisions about their lives. Not just to peddle the soporific, bread-and-circus sops we're mostly fed these days.

Jemstone has a 20-year track record of independence; we remain known and trusted; and we have experience and contacts. We're planning to return next year from Amsterdam to our base in the Middle East. We have special expertise in news for young people (see www.shababnews.tv), in developing sustaintable media strategies and in training and motivating.

The IBC session last autumn broke new ground. Chaired by ex-FT media correspondent, Ray Snoddy, it featured Nart Bouran of Sky Arabia and Fayed Abu Shammalah, a Jemstone graduate, who was on the ground in Egypt and Syria during the push for democratisation and saw the empowering impact of new and social media.

Nart Bouran agreed that the new technology was imposing a lot of pressure on the journalism with the demands to be fast and live crunching up against the need for 'verification' -- "once it's out it's out!". A third expert, Jonathan Marks of Critical Distance, warned of the dangers that the loud and activate would be heard disproportionately. Traditional media were not changing fast enough, he said, and the role of good journalism was as important as ever.

The session was reported in the IBC Daily (see here) and on their own TV channel; and attracted a large audience including a junior minister from Saudi Arabia. The aim now is to explore further this interface between technology, social media and mainstream media and find ways to avoid the rich and powerful re-exerting their control over the means of communication.

If you have ideas or examples where this is being achieved please let us know (tudor at jemstone dot net). It's never easy and an initial break-through is no guarantee of success, as the protesters at Seattle in 1999 discovered in the years to come -- see page 39 of my dissertation.

Most important though, is to connect and re-connect like-minded journalists and media people, so please send this link to any of our Jemstone graduates and anyone else who might be interested. It's time to begin again.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 January 2013 08:32  

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