The WeMedia Conference in London on the 3rd and 4th of May 2006, saw quite a few authors from Global Voices making sure they were heard. Authors from GVO included Eduardo, Kamla, Lisa, Rachel, Rebecca, Salam and Neha (me). We had our hopes high given some of the items on the agenda. Kamla wrote before heading off for the conference –
In many ways this conference is perhaps a sign of the changing times and how emerging technology and tools like blogs, podcasts, video blogging, wikipedia, social networking etc is changing the landscape of the media world-wide. This conference highlights the changing times and will see the intersection and interaction of traditional media and citizen journalism.
Even before the conference started, Salam unwrapped the nuances for the logo chosen for We Media and how it indicated posturing and posing. I was a little disturbed by the fact that Gender didn't make an appearance either in the agenda or in any of the discussions. Rachel comments on how the conference appeared to be a We Media UK and US Forum. Rebecca points to a crucial factor that would greatly determine the extent of which media becomes more representative of its users and loses its obvious weight of bias.
Media will only become more democratic if concerted efforts are made to bridge digital divides, build communities of conversation in places not heavily covered by the media, and then amplify the new voices.
Here's what I had to say on the issue of trust as discussed at We Media. Salam is torn between BBC and Reuters who each hosted the conference for a day. He takes a good look at the bag of goodies given by both to decide who wins. Lisa reflects on women and blogging and on our hosts, with a generous quip on why Reuters is referred to as Al Reuters. Both Salam and Lisa expressed doubts on the way the panel for Middle East was conducted. Even as BBC appears to have done a less than stellar job, Rachel talks of the World Service team -
The World Service was represented, at the end of the day. The teams of the (rather injudiciously merged for the occasion) programmes World Have Your Say and Africa Have Your Say put out a special radio programme live from the television studio, threading their way carefully between the tables, talking to people from the audience, allowing callers from countries as diverse as Iraq and Nigeria to question people in the audience.
Rebecca conducted some panels on the second day while Rachel kept a close eye on the online chatroom conversations. The session on Citizen Journalism made me question some of the assumptions made by the panelists.