IREX Europe Programme Managers, Flora Graioni and Kate Hankey, attended the 3rd annual 4M Conference organised by Canal France International (CFI) in Montpellier, France. The event focused on how digital development has transformed how we consume and how we produce news, and how people interact with traditional media in the digital era. 150 experts from 35 different countries in Asia, Africa, the Caucasus, the Balkans and the Arab World, representing traditional and new media came together to debate how new and social media have revolutionised traditional media and the journalism profession.
Why ‘4M’ we all asked? 4M stands for Media, Mediterranean, Mutations, and Montpellier. CFI holds the annual 4M conference in Montpellier and organises regional 4M events around the world. The upcoming 4M events will be held in Tbilisi, Georgia and in Nairobi, Kenya in the fall of 2013. Technology and web use have drastically changed journalism models and practices. Social media and the ‘power’ it gives the common citizen are transforming the way journalists approach their profession but also the way citizens inform themselves. The objective of the 4M conferences is to support and foster professionalism among and between these actors.
Themes such as ‘Is the Internet a Credible Media?’ or ‘What Role for Bloggers and Citizen Journalists in the Newsroom?’ were discussed among the speakers and the audience, while the projected screen in the room showed all the tweets made by participants to #4M2013, commenting live to what was being said in the discussions.
The second evening of the conference was dedicated to a special debate on the Syrian conflict, open to the public and organised by the Franco-German TV channel Arte. Following a viewing of videos from Syria speakers and the audience discussed war reporting. The Syrian conflict highlights the changes new media have brought, where access to reliable information is difficult because of the sheer quantity of information, particularly the plethora of information being channelled through new media.
Other speakers from around the world came to present their web initiatives, such as Melisa Mbugua from Kenya who works for the iHub in Nairobi, a co-working space for the Kenyan technology sector. Nairobi has a thriving tech sector and is nicknamed the ‘Silicon Savannah’. Melisa came to Montpellier to talk about Ushahidi, a well-known crowdmapping programme, originally developed in Nairobi, Kenya in 2007 to highlight electoral violations during the 2007 national elections in Kenya. Ushahidi has since been used for many other functions such as mapping sexual harassment in Egypt or the incidence of atrocities in Syria. An easier and simplified version of Ushahidi, Crowdmap, has been created and is open sourced and accessible to all. Ushahidi is Swahili for ‘to bear witness’.
Melisa Mbugua from Kenya talked about Ushahidi, a well-known crowdmapping programme, originally developed to collect and visualise electoral violations during the 2007 national elections in Kenya
Special debate on the Syrian conflict, open to the public and organised by the Franco-German TV channel Arte
4M stands for Media, Mediterranean, Mutations, and Montpellier. The upcoming 4M events will be held in Tbilisi, Georgia and in Nairobi, Kenya in the fall of 2013.