In times of staying at home, it is natural to long for connection even more. So in the midst of the current pandemic, the Refugee Journalism Project (London) and the Digital Media for Professionals with Flight History (Hamburg) held their first virtual meeting to explore options of working together.
Both projects work with exiled and displaced journalists who, having fled their home countries, receive tailored training to continue their work in the German and UK media industry.
The three-hour-workshop, conducted online, kicked off with an introduction by the project coordinators Hauke Lorenz and Barbara Guggenheim in Hamburg and Vivienne Francis in London, followed by a talk by Tabea Grzeszyk.
The spirit of collaboration – worldwide and online
Tabea is a journalist and co-founder of Hostwriter, a network that connects journalists from across the globe who seek collaborative partners.
With an array of expertise and a passion for journalists working together, she provided participants with an incredible insight into the opportunity for greater collaboration in the times of coronavirus.
Her talk painted a picture for the possible future for journalism when, as the pandemic has proven, it may not always be necessary for a journalist reporting on matters abroad “to see for yourself“.
Instead, working closely with local journalists presents a great opportunity to not only travel less but to also increase the variety of perspectives in stories.
So whilst the hefty global restrictions might discourage some from seeking out cross-border work, Tabea’s presentation was packed with practical advice, as well as offering some inspiring examples of collaboration from the past and present: creating just the right mindset for the following brainstorming session.
Creative connections and the start of friendships
After a short Q&A, the projects’ participants were invited to cook up ideas for a cross-border project. Being divided into mixed groups of UK and Germany based members, everybody was eager to get creative and conceptualise for the collaboration ahead.
Ideas ranged from documentaries about the refugee experience to podcasts to hands-on investigative work on bias in the workplace.
The project coordinators, however, were particularly encouraged by how the participants connected via camera and microphone.
Barbara Guggenheim, one of Hamburg Media School’s project coordinators, was initially hesitant about the success of an exclusively online workshop. But when participants fed back that they had been able to connect on a personal level, even made friends, she was delighted: “This went even better than we could have wished for.”
We are looking forward to our next session in August and are excited to build upon our initial ideas and connections!