Media Academy » Overview

The Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change is a unique three-week action research and critical making program that brings young media makers together from around the world to critique and create civic media for social change. The academy focuses on responding to the wicked problems of the world, and values human connections and co-creation of media initiatives to solve them. We focus on developing media and digital literacies that can be applied to inform intractable issues that face us today. 

Over 70 students and a dozen faculty from all five continents gather annually in Salzburg to work in international teams and across disciplines. Since be founded in 2007, a global network of young media innovators has emerged, with over 830 students, 175 faculty, and a host of visiting scholars and practitioners. In this time, participants in the Academy have built:

  • Prototypes plans for media innovation
  • Global Case Studies that explore media's role in the world across borders, cultures, and divides
  • Digital Vignettes that show media's impact on the world
  • Global Media Literacy Models for engaging communities to be more sustainable and vibrant in digital culture
  • A Network of young media innovators that work to lead and invent the future media industries best suited for success in digital culture

Students produce substantial collaborative projects based on the year's theme.


We have had the pleasure of welcoming the following visiting scholars:

  • Richard Goldstone - South African judge who helped bring down the Apartheid / UN chief prosecutor
  • Dana Priest - Pulitzer-prize winning journalist for CBS / Washington Post
  • Richard Ford - Pulitzer Prize Winning Author
  • Bianca Jagger - Social Activist
  • Tom Stoppard - Playwright
  • Henry Jenkins - Founder, MIT Center for Civic Media
  • Anthony Kennedy - US Supreme Court Justice
  • Liz Lufkin - Yahoo News front page editor
  • Charles Sennott - founder of the GlobalPost
  • Will Dobson - foreign policy editor at Slate
  • Lucio Mesquita - director, BBC Monitoring
  • Martin Weiss - Head of Press Dept, Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Maya Morsi - UNDP Egypt
  • Ivan Seigal - Director, Global Voices

Upcoming Sessions in 2018:

Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change
July 15 to August 4, 2018


What Media Can Change

Salzburg Media Academy Inspires Lebanese Program
Salzburg Media Academy Inspires Lebanese Program
Salzburg Global Staff Writer 
Founding Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change faculty member Dr. Jad Melki, of the American University of Beirut, has launched a new media and digital literacy academy in Lebanon - the first such program in the Middle East. Inspired by his work over the past seven years with Salzburg Global Seminar, Melki, together with his colleagues from the AUB Media Studies Program, launched the three-week Media and Digital Literacy Academy of Beirut (MDLAB) at AUB this August. Tailored to the Arab world and aiming to promote, vitalize, and advance digital media literacy education in the region, the inaugural program hosted 50 media professors and students from universities in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria. Jad Melki and May Farah, both assistant professors at AUB's Media Studies program and members of the faculty the Salzburg Academy, co-chaired the 2013 academy, and Lubna Maaliki, an AUB and Salzburg alumna, served as the academy's director, with many of the roster of international speakers coming from the ranks of Salzburg Global Seminar and its Academy program. Salzburg Global Seminar President Stephen Salyer, one of the speakers at the MDLAB, praised the initiative and expressed his pride at the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change having been "the seed ground for this exciting new effort". Staple of education "Digital media literacy has become a staple of education all around the world, except in the Arab region," said Melki, also the director of the Media Studies Program at AUB. "We hope to bridge this gap, particularly since media literacy is very important to help solve many of the social and cultural problems we face in the region." Melki added that media literacy is an international academic movement whose aim is to empower citizens with critical thinking skills so they could understand how media affect their lives and their societies. "It can also help turn citizens into critical consumers and producers of media so they could actively participate in national and global dialogues using digital media. They can then act as responsible global citizens and civic participants in their cultures." Like the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change, which was launched in 2007, the three-week Beirut Academy will be held annually. The MDLAB program will be mainly open to professors and students from the Arab world, and is being sponsored by the Open Society Foundations, a US-based grant-making operation that promotes democratic governance and social reform. International faculty The three-week annual academy, conducted primarily in Arabic, brings pioneering instructors and professionals to teach advanced digital and media literacy concepts and debate skills to young Arab university instructors and graduate students, who will eventually spread the knowledge to their institutions and countries. In addition to Salyer, the international speakers and trainers included Susan Moeller from the University of Maryland and director of the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda, partner of the Salzburg Academy, Paul Mihailidis from Emerson College and Salzburg Academy Program Director, Salzburg Academy faculty member Moses Shumow from Florida International University, and Renee Hobbs from the University of Rhode Island, who delivered the 2012 Bailey Morris Lecture at Salzburg Global Seminar. Melki called Moeller, Mihailidis and Shumow "instrumental" in helping design and advise about the Beirut Academy. Melki hopes to see much collaboration between the Salzburg Academy and the MDLAB in coming years. "In addition to having more faculty from the Salzburg Academy join, we hope it's also a two way exchange, where participants, both faculty and students, from the Beirut Academy can join the Salzburg Academy later. We also hope to share notes on curricular matters. There are things we applied in Beirut that can be done in Salzburg and vice versa," he explained. Much like the Salzburg Academy, the MDLAB will also act as an incubator of innovative ideas and a hub for a network of regional universities and media educators. Staff of the MDLAB hope that "faculty members participating in the academy will carry back the knowledge and curricula to their universities, schools, and countries, while students simultaneously benefit from the teaching and training." MDLAB was conceived by the Media Studies program after several years of success in teaching media and digital literacy courses, engaging in related study abroad programs, such as the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change, and organizing public lectures and conferences on this issue, including the 2011 conference of the Arab-US Association for Communication Educators at AUB.
66 Students, One Mission: Improve Global Media Literacy and Change the World
66 Students, One Mission: Improve Global Media Literacy and Change the World
Louise Hallman 
Sixty-six students of eighteen nationalities from fourteen colleges*, together for three weeks with one goal: to enhance the understanding of media literacy – both their own and others’ – and ultimately change their local and global communities. Over the course of the three-week program of the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change, the international cohort of students listened to lectures, took part in skills workshops, discussed issues in small group sessions, and ultimately produced case studies to aid the understanding of how the world’s media cover various issues, from how social media can give voice to LGBT communities across the world – and why we should be wary of what we share online, to how media impacts men’s body image and how digital media can help raise awareness of women’s rights. Now in its seventh year, the Salzburg Academy began in 2007 as a partnership between the Salzburg Global Seminar and the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda at the University of Maryland, but quickly attracted partner universities from across the world that are home to leading journalism and communications schools. In previous years students have worked together to contribute to one large research project, including exploring mobile information habits of university students around world and analyzing the global media coverage of the Beijing and London Olympics. This year students worked in smaller groups to develop in-depth case studies within the areas of media and socio-political change, media innovation, and open data. Through their case studies, small groups of students were tasked with identifying an issue of interest; critically analyzing how the media covers that issue; compiling resources for others to understand the issue; developing lesson plans and educational exercises so that peers or younger students can learn about the issue; and presenting the case study in the form of an essay, an infographic or a video.
  • The resulting case studies covered a wide variety of topics, including:
  • The promotion of women’s rights through social media
  • Entertainment television as an agent for political change
  • The use of social media to provide a voice to LGBT communities around the world Global self-censorship in Lebanon, Mexico, China, Hong Kong and Slovakia
The students also made awareness-raising videos on: Love as a human right Child brides and forced marriage Social media and privacy Social media Labor rights violations Attacks on journalists The influence of the media on men's body image The importance of open data Social media for change: Tweeting against online sexism This year’s program not only covered and built on previous years’ curricula on media and visual literacy (which has been compiled in the book News Literacy: Global Perspectives for the Newsroom and the Classroom, edited by Program Director, Paul Mihailidis), but also covered the interconnected themes of reporting in the age of open data, digital media and social movements, and digital media and urban innovation. The program was led by faculty from partner universities, as well as guest lecturers including games researcher and designer Eric Gordon, from the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University; Slate magazine’s foreign and politics editor, Will Dobson; and award-winning documentary maker Sanjeev Chatterjee. Students tackled the topics of global citizenship, the myths and realities of globalization, the universality of media standards, empowerment through media, media entrepreneurship, social media and diversity networks, the media’s role in covering conflict and justice, challenges to freedom of expression, and community outreach. Inspiring Change Since undertaking the three-week program, in addition to improving their media literacy, many of the students felt inspired to make some sort of change. For some it was on a personal level, like Paulina Klaucova, from the University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius. “I have to change my habits; I have to study more about what’s going on in the world, and then talk about it to other people. But first I have to change myself and my point of view, and then I can change the bigger things,” said Paulina. University of Maryland broadcast major Samantha Medney intends to join J-Street - an organization for Jewish and Arab students to join together and talk about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - upon her return to the USA. “[Salzburg] has really opened my eyes; you might think that you have a certain position on something, but if you really opened your eyes and really got to know individuals from certain countries, you’d realize that there’s really a broader context going on.” Other students now feel inspired to try to change and raise awareness at their university, like at Bournemouth University. “We want to set up a society which looks each week at global issues and discusses how we can make people in our country more aware of them, and create discussion about things that people might not know about,” explained second year multimedia journalism student Jessica Long. Other students left with even bigger ambitions. International relations major Ryan Shingledecker from University of Texas at Austin, chose the Salzburg program to fill his compulsory study abroad credits because of his interest in the growing power of social media, something he hopes to now harness to help in developing countries. “I’ve always been passionate about going and working with people in developing countries,” explained Ryan. “And I now know different tools that I can use to go and make a change in these countries, where before one person couldn’t do a whole lot, but now somebody can.” Maya Majzoub, one of the 25 American University in Beirut students at this year's Academy, echoed the thoughts of many of her fellow Salzburg graduates when she said she now feels inspired and empowered to make change happen. “It’s not just the academics that stick in my mind; it’s about the social interaction, the feeling that you can do something. I’m coming back to Lebanon and all my thoughts are all on what I can do to change something about my community,” she said. “I’m going to invest everything I learned here [in Salzburg] in my job [as a reporter]. I’ve always had this feeling that I want to change something in my community, but now I’m empowering myself with the tools, and I feel that the Salzburg media program has given me insight on what to do next – how to use media production in changing something.” As it has been from the start, the Salzburg Academy is not just “on Media”, but also “Global Change”, and in the words of famed anthropologist Margaret Mead, chair of the first ever session of Salzburg Global Seminar: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
A selection of photographs from the 2013 Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change are available on Flickr Winning entries from the 2013 Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change photography contest are available on Facebook A selection of student-made videos from the 2013 Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change are available on YouTube *Participating universities this year were: American University of Beirut, Lebanon; Bournemouth University, UK; Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China SAR; Daystar University, Kenya; Emerson College, USA; Jordan Media Institute, Jordan; Pontifica Universidad Catolica, Argentina; Southwest University of Politics and Law, China; Tsinghua University, China; Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico; University of Maryland, College Park, USA; University of Miami, USA; University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius, Slovakia; and University of Texas at Austin, USA.
Play is fundamental to humanity – and civic engagement
Play is fundamental to humanity – and civic engagement
Louise Hallman 
Gaming is a multi-billion dollar industry. But games can be used for a lot more than just keeping teenage boys entertained in their bedrooms. As Eric Gordon, director of the Engagement Game Lab at Emerson College, explained to students of the seventh Salzburg Academy for Media and Global Change, games are being increasingly used to create civic engagement and affect social change. Delivering the annual Ithiel de Sola Pool lecutre on on the Impact of Communications Technology on Society and Politics, Gordon laid out how by playing learning games, such as 1990s school hit, Oregon Trail, and direct impact games like Darfur is Dying, where one must keep their refugee camp functioning in the face of possible attacks by Janjaweed militias, opportunities for learning, empathy and social control can be realized in a much more accessible manner than simply reading books or listening to lectures. As Johan Huizinga, the Dutch historian and one of the founders of modern cultural history, said: “Let my play be my learning and my learning be my play”. In their book Rules of Play, Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman state that “games are systems where players engage in artificial conflict, governed by rules, for which there is a knowable outcome.” They also offer the opportunity to fail safely, encouraging practice and perfection. In addition to generating empathy and experiential learning, games are also being used in the civic realm to gather data, help prepare for natural disasters, and community and urban planning. Games can even be used to build mutual trust between a government and its citizens. “Gameful design can increase efficacy because people feel like they can operate in the context of play in a way that they cannot operate in the serious work of civic life,” said Gordon. This is most apparent when dealing with young people, said Gordon, who often feel marginalized in civic life. “When you frame something as a game, all of a sudden you open up possibilities to a population that has been systematically excluded,” he added. Echoing the words of Huizinga: “Man only plays when in the full meaning of the word he is a man, and he is only completely a man when he plays”; Gordon concluded his lecture: “Fundamental to our humanness is play – and as we build societies and institutions that systematically discount our ability to play, we’re losing some of humanness. So games can be one way to bring that play back into civic life.”
Eric Gordon is Associate Professor of Visual and Media Arts at Emerson College. Gordon studies civic media, location-based media, and serious games. He is a fellow at thelhall Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University and an associate professor in the department of Visual and Media Arts at Emerson College. He is also the founding director of the Engagement Game Lab, which focuses on the design and research of digital games that foster civic engagement. Dr. Gordon is the co-author of Net Locality: Why Location Matters in a Networked World (Blackwell Publishing, 2011) and The Urban Spectator: American Concept-cities from Kodak to Google (Dartmouth, 2010). He holds a B.A. in sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, CA, as well as an M.A. and Ph.D. from the Department of Critical Studies, School of Cinema and Television at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA. Ithiel de Sola Pool (1917-1984) was a pioneer in the development of social science and network theory. Dr. Pool received a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1952, and held academic positions at Hobart College and Stanford University before joining the Massachusetts Institute of Technology faculty in 1953, where he was the first chair of the political science department and a founder of the Center for International Studies. He remained a leader of MIT’s political science and international programs until his death in 1984. He edited a seminal work, The Handbook of Communication (1973), which defined the scope of the field, and his reputation as a leading authority on the social and political impact of communications technology was fortified and extended with such publications as Forecasting the Telephone (1983), and Communication Flows: A Census of Japan and the US (1984), co-written with Roger Hurwitz and Hiroshe Inose. This last book was an early attempt to define and then to measure rigorously the now widely-recognized trend toward a global information society. His renowned works Technologies of Freedom (1983) and Technologies without Borders (1990) were defining studies of communications and human freedom, both as a history of older systems of communication and as visionary accounts of the ways in which emerging digital technologies might transform social and political life. Dr. Pool served on three faculties of Salzburg Seminar sessions: Session 45, American Society, in 1956; Session 77, American Foreign Policy, in 1962; and Session 203, Development, Communication, and Social Change, in 1981.
William J. Dobson returns to Salzburg Global
William J. Dobson returns to Salzburg Global
Stephen Salyer and Louise Hallman 
Almost 20 years ago,'s politics and foreign affairs editor, William J. Dobson came to Salzburg Global Seminar as an intern, where his time spent engaging in “meaningful conversations” with foreign policy makers and questioning them helped him pursue a career in journalism. This summer he returned to Schloss Leopoldskron, but this time it was he who was facing the questions from 70 eager international journalism students. Dobson, who is also a Salzburg Global Fellow following his participation of two Salzburg sessions on East Asian-US relations, presented at the seventh annual Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change on the topic of his recently published book The Dictator’s Learning Curve. He also hosted a question and answer session where students were able to get an exclusive look at what goes on behind the scenes at major news journals. Speaking in an interview with Salzburg Global President Stephen Salyer after his lecture, Dobson spoke fondly of his “Salzburg Experience”. “You could engage in real meaningful conversations with people who didn’t just have opinions about American foreign policy, but were actually involved in shaping American foreign policy. "The experience of being able to question people of that rank and stature is something that once you’ve tried doing it’s hard to give up. "So I think it’s quite natural for someone who’s had that experience to take up a career like journalism where that’s what we do every day.” Dobson has since enjoyed an highly successful career in journalism, working as senior editor, Asia, at Newsweek International, managing editor at Foreign Policy magazine, and now politics and foreign affairs editor for Slate magazine, as well as writing numerous articles on Chinese foreign policy and Sino-American relations for American newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the New Republic. In 2009, Dobson gave up his position with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace to concentrate on writing his book, which was finally published in June 2012 to great acclaim and has since appeared on the New York Times bestsellers list. In his interview with Salyer, Dobson also answered questions on the main themes of his book, what he sees now for the future of the Arab Spring and authoritarian regimes in other areas of the world, and how the media can cover them. The Dictator's Learning Curve: Protests Are Not Limited to Authoritarian Regimes Is Authoritarian Rule Ever Justified? How Did Morsi Blow It? Future Reconciliation in Egypt? A Future Civil Society for Russia? Predicting the Future The Salzburg Global Seminar Effect
Seventh Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change Opens
Seventh Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change Opens
Louise Hallman 
This weekend saw the opening of the seventh Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change, welcoming 66 students from 15 colleges on five continents. Leading the teaching of the intensive and highly selective three-week program is faculty of 20 university academics and leading journalists, documentary makers and media specialists. The seventh year of the program not only covers and builds on previous years’ curricula on media and visual literacy, but will also follow the interconnected themes of reporting in the age of open data, digital media and social movements, and digital media and urban innovation. Whilst in Salzburg, the students will tackle the issues surrounding the influence and role media plays in civic society and how increased media literacy can promote engagement with civil society and democratic processes. Faculty from the students’ home universities, along with Salzburg Global Seminar staff and guest lecturers, will provide seminars around topics such as global citizenship, myths and realities of globalization, the universality of media standards, empowerment through media, media entrepreneurship, social media and diversity networks, conflict and justice, freedom of expression, and community outreach. The annual Ithiel de Sola Pool Lecture on the Impact of Communications Technology on Society and Politics will be delivered by games researcher and designer Eric Gordon, from the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, on the topic of ‘Games and Civic Learning’. Skills workshops will be held on the importance and design of infographics – essential in today’s world of “Big Data” – as well as digital usability, multimedia storytelling, and media literacy business planning. In previous years, in addition to attending lectures and workshops, students have also participated in faculty-led research projects, such as last year’s Olympix study, for which the students used Pinterest to collect and analyze images used by a selection of newspapers in various countries to cover the 2012 Summer Olympics. This year, the international students will create case studies, complete with infographics and video, of instances of where digital media has propelled civic engagement, along with action plans of how the media can better cover social movements. Students will use the “5 As” framework to challenge case study users to think beyond the immediate and specific experience, and consider innovative ways that media literacy can illuminate the case study’s topic:
  1. Access to media
  2. Awareness of media’s power
  3. Assessment of how media cover international and supranational events and issues
  4. Appreciation for media’s role in creating civil societies
  5. Action to encourage better communication across cultural, social, and political divides
Whilst at Schloss Leopoldskron, each week students will enter photography contests based on the topics discussed. This exercise encourages students to think critically about how images are created by interpreting concepts visually, as well as exposing and examining how these concepts can be widely interpreted by such a diverse group. This year’s students come from universities in the US, Mexico, Argentina, the UK, Slovakia, Kenya, Lebanon, the UAE, China and Hong Kong, China SAR, but they represent a much larger group of nationalities with students also originating from Colombia, India, Lithuania, Georgia, Sudan, Palestine and Syria. In addition to their media-related studies, the international cohort will also travel to the nearby Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site in neighboring Germany and consider both the use of propaganda and the later documentary coverage to expose atrocities. The Salzburg Academy began in 2007 as a partnership between the Salzburg Global Seminar and the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda at the University of Maryland, but quickly attracted partner universities from across the world that are home to leading journalism and communications schools. To read more, please visit the newly
relaunched website of the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change.
New Media Academy Study: This is not Gen-X or Gen-Y: this is the 'Tethered Generation.'
New Media Academy Study: This is not Gen-X or Gen-Y: this is the 'Tethered Generation.'
Salzburg Global Staff 
Students from partner universities of Salzburg Global Seminar’s Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change have contributed to a new study on the mobile phone habits of young people, published on Wednesday, October 3.  The Tethered World study, directed by Paul Mihailidis, Program Director of the Academy, evaluated the mobile habits of 800 students of 52 nationalities, attending Academy partner universities in eight countries, on three continents, and found that despite living all over the world, the students had surprisingly similar experiences.  In her article for the Huffington Post, Academy co-founder, Susan Moeller, director of the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda (ICMPA) at the University of Maryland, outlines five key findings: Facebook and Twitter not only are the dominant presence in the lives of students across the globe, they are having a homogenizing effect on how students live around the world. Whether in Bournemouth, Beirut or Boston, students reported that Facebook, Twitter and other social networks were the way they hear from and communicate to their friends and the world. "Twitter has become the new CNN," as one student said. And the study suggests that for students, mobile phones are the new remote controls. Mobile phones are used to share and comment on other people's social spaces -- and information and news of all kinds is especially valued when it has a great "gee whiz" factor that makes young adults want to pass it on. Said one student: "I don't usually share articles, just some great music news, or a YouTube video that I think is funny or is a music video."  This is not Gen-X or Gen-Y: this is the 'Tethered Generation.' Around the world, mobile phones are integral to students' identity. Students self-reported that they were "addicted," claiming it is literally "impossible" to go a day without a phone. The tracking data reinforced students' heavy use across the world. As one student reported: "I check my phone literally every 2 or 3 minutes for updates on text messages, Twitter, or even Facebook." Said another: "The mobile phone has become a part of us: our best friend who will save all our secrets, pleasures and sorrows." Students use mobile phones to network with others -- and being a part of that network is more real than the real world. For students, phones don't just facilitate conversations, they connect them to others in ways that are not only satisfying, but increasingly paramount. Observed one student: "One thing that seems kind of funny to me is one experience that I had last week, we had an earthquake, a big one, and a lot of people instead of being alert and try to save themselves, they just started tweeting about what was going on. They were so attached to their social networks that they cared more about letting people know what was happening instead of evacuating the building." On mobile phones, apps are like cable TV. While they appreciate the thousands of options, students really only use a few apps. While a majority of the students in the study had 16 or more apps on their phones, they reported they only used three or four apps regularly. Said one student: "The three apps that I use the most [are] Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I love being able to see what my friends are up to and look at their pictures. I also enjoy the diverse combination of news articles, humor, and lifestyle pieces that these various platforms provide." For the course of the study held in spring this year, researchers had the students track their mobile use over a 24-hour period.  “Following the day-long tracking, the students completed an in-depth survey and wrote a 500-word narrative about their media habits,” explains Moeller.  Whilst the study found that through mobile phones the students now had access to and participation in “areas of the media which we would otherwise be excluded from”, Moeller added that there was one aspect the ‘tethered generation' should be cautious of: data access and abuse.  “Our lives have become available to anyone who can access them -- which is just about everyone everywhere in the world,” said one student. 
The Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change is a three-week summer program held by Salzburg Global Seminar and the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda (ICMPA), at Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg, Austria, bringing together undergraduate and graduate students from a broad variety of top universities around the world. Faculty and deans of these universities participate in the Academy, giving lectures and acting as mentors to small teams of students to explore the media’s role in global progress, pluralism, and citizenship.
Renee Hobbs on the Blurring of Art, Journalism and Advocacy
Renee Hobbs on the Blurring of Art, Journalism and Advocacy
Louise Hallman 
This year’s Bailey Morris-Eck Lecture on International Media, Economics, and Trade was delivered by Renee Hobbs, Professor and Founding Director of the Harrington School of Communication and Media at the University of Rhode Island, on ‘The Blurring of Art, Journalism and Advocacy’. Speaking to more than 60 students and over a dozen faculty of the sixth annual Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change, Hobbs addressed the intersections of art, journalism and advocacy, asking students to consider whether it is ever OK to embellish stories or even lie in order to tell a “greater truth”. Using the now infamous KONY 2012 video (the viral hit made by American charity ‘Invisible Children’ that drew attention to the actions of Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda and then later drew scorn for its tactics and out-of-date footage) as an example of how different people could interpret the same video differently, Hobbs asked students to consider if the video was art, journalism or advocacy; was it simply a well-made, artistically shot and edited video? Was the charity aiming to accurately inform the viewer of the current situation in Uganda? Or was the video trying to get the viewer to take action, and inform themselves in the process? Or was it a combination of all three?  Hobbs demonstrated how once viewed within each of these three different parameters one could consider the video a success, failure or even dangerous. Although holding different professional attitudes towards truth, lies, embellishment and mis-information, Hobbs said it did not matter if artists, journalists and advocates used or presented reality in different manners as “artists and journalists are different kinds of truth tellers and always have been… Artists are double agents – flipping between art and society.”  Hobbs used the example of literary fiction, even sci-fi and fantasy – despite stories such as these not being based in reality, they can still give the reader insights into human nature and the world around us. “People crave to know our world...” said Hobbs, “We can learn to know our world through science fiction and fantasy novels. Stories told by journalists are just one type [of story].” What does matter to Hobbs, however, is the ability to understand these different types of media messages, and understand the different meanings behind their construction. When facing these increasing intersections between art, journalism and activism, Hobbs argued, it is becoming increasingly important to be media literate, and that education shouldn’t start in high school or college.  Hobbs, through her work with the Media Education Lab, of which she is also a founder, advocates for the teaching of media literacy in elementary schools, saying even children as young as five and six years old can understand the concept of authorship. “Media literacy is both protectionist and empowering... I want to protect children from the worst aspects [of the media] but I also want to empower them with means to express themselves and understand the world around them,” explained Hobbs. According to Hobbs' lecture, media consumers can gain better understanding of the images, audio, video and texts they are facing by asking themselves the five key questions of media literacy:
  1. Who is the author and what is the purpose of the message?
  2. What techniques are used to attract your attention?
  3. What lifestyles, value and points of view are represented?
  4. How might different people interpret the message differently?
  5. What is omitted from the message?
The fifth question regarding the omission of content from media messages is becoming an increasingly important factor in media literacy, explained Hobbs.   “We now live in a post-fact universe...the devil can cite statistics for its own purpose,” Hobbs told her audience, prompting them to consider, as future journalists and media literacy advocates, how might they deal with this problem. “If facts are over-rated then expertise is meaningless...[media literacy] teachers need not to be experts but guides,” Hobbs concluded.
Following her lecture, Salzburg Academy students Maya Hariri, Judy Munge and Oscar Tollast put their questions to Renee Hobbs.
Bailey Morris-Eck is the co-chair and founder of the International Women’s Media Foundation, which has centers in Africa and Latin America and membership in 65 countries. She is also commissioner for Maryland Public Broadcasting and senior correspondent for the London Financial News, contributing a bi-monthly op-ed column, and a director and program chair of WYPR, the public radio station in the Baltimore- Washington area.  As a senior associate of the Reuters Foundation, Ms. Morris-Eck launched its first international policy debate and book series on globalization. She also served as vice president of the Brookings Institution and was a senior fellow of the Institute for International Economics where she worked on trade policy and launched its policy journal, International Economic Insights. She served as an adviser in both the Carter and Clinton Administrations. Ms. Morris-Eck has served as US economics correspondent for both The Independent (London) and The Times of London and as a national correspondent for The Washington Star. She continues as a frequent contributor to BBC World Services and C -SPAN radio.   A member of the board of directors of the Salzburg Global Seminar, Ms. Morris-Eck also serves on the board of visitors of Claremont University, the editorial boards of the German Marshall Fund and the European Institute, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.   The Bailey Morris - Eck Lecture on International Media, Economics, and Trade was established through the generosity of Bailey Morris-Eck and her family. The Morris-Eck Lecture is delivered annually at sessions of the Salzburg Global Seminar. The Bailey Morris-Eck Lectureship on International Media, Economics, and Trade was established in 2004. Morris-Eck Lecturers include William Emmott, former editor, The Economist; Pascal Lamy, director-general, World Trade Organization; Kenneth Lieberthal, William Davidson, Professor of Business Administration, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan; Paul Volcker, economic advisor to US President, Barack Obama; and Ewald Nowotny, head of the Austrian national bank.
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