The Regional Seminar: "Virtual Content, Real Impact - Can ethics survive the market?" (a perspective on the public interest and the state of ethics in journalism) brought together participants from Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Croatia, Denmark and the UK to discuss the new shared challenges in Media, as well as preexisting conditions, to gain a better understanding of the state of the profession at this point and generate constructive ideas to make the best of this turning point in the evolution of the industry.
Editors/media managers and owners, media experts, journalists and marketers and public regulators focused in the course of their three-day debate on issues such as:
- Shifting communication models? A changing media or a changing society? What rules, what needs, what expectations? Cold shivers in the Big Brother world.
- Out of control? Citizen journalism, blogs, social networks - what ethical imperatives (if any)? What quality standards?
- "Agora" democracy/TV government = better democracy for more people or just soap opera? More information = more knowledge or more manipulation?
- Privacy, accuracy, data protection, distinction information/opinion - no more the norm? Will accuracy of information increasingly rely solely on balancing multiple sources? Is regulation necessary/desirable/possible?
- Loss of quality journalism? What journalists for what media - fewer but better/more and low-paid? The relation between employers (media owners, media managers) and journalists. Can a well-prepared, professional class of journalists be built and maintained in a context of economic crisis?
- Techonology-driven change? Do we adjust content to new platforms? Do these have inherent characteristics which differ from traditional media outlets?
- Can traditional media survive? Is the solution "mass and cheap" or "niche and costly" products?
- How much choice is too much? (Not) getting lost in the jungle of infinite options and big data.
- Are strong management skills and financial soundness of media institutions a solution for delivery of independent, quality information and opinion? Is media as business compatible with media as public service?
Focusing each time on a highly relevant current topic, Aspen Romania Regional Seminars build upon the expertise and the strengths of both the Institute's leadership programme and policy programmes (each of which will be matched yearly with a regional seminar).
Based on the Aspen method, but in a compact fashion, the seminar makes use of the time tested Socratic model of achieving a more profound understanding of contentious or complex issues through meaningful dialogue. Inspired by Aspen's classical seminars, Socrates seminars are hybrids in that they combine traditional Aspen-style Socratic moderated seminars with advance text-based readings with moderation by distinguished subject-matter experts.
The debate was moderated by reputed journalist and writer Michael Jarlner, International Editor of Politiken (www.politiken.dk), leading Danish newspaper, and Aspen Programs Director (and former journalist) Oana Popescu. The seminar was informed by the discussions and conclusions of the Financial Times Digital Media & Broadcasting Conference 2010 - Maximizing Revenues in an Evolving Media Landscape (London) and of the recent 17th World Editors Forum - The Tablet Year: Why Mobile Distribution Will Change the News Business (Hamburg).