GEN Summit 2015 Day 3 (Morning) - Media Innovations For The Future of Journalism

23 June 2015


Gabriel Mabille is a student at the EFJ School of Journalism in Levallois-Perret, France, and the GEN Summit 2015 blogger in Barcelona. Read his experience of the third and final morning at the Summit:

An impressive number of people attended the morning session of Day 3 at the Gen Summit in the Sala Teatre. The presence of the Senior Vice President of Google, David Drummond, was undoutedbly the reason!

A breakfast masterclass took place near the GEN expo organised by Zohar Dayan, Co-founder and CEO from Wibbitz: ‘There’s a robot in my newsroom ! Teaming up with text-to-video technology’.

Dan Gilmor, writer, teacher and blogger, gave a brilliant and inspiring lesson on journalism in his keynote speech at the Sala Teatre for the first presentation on Friday’s morning. His powerful message was focused the role of journalists. He encouraged the profession to carry an important mission: be activists! There are multiple topics which newswriters could tackle. They are at the core of the essence of the job of journalists. From freedom of speech, the danger of social networks, government campaigns for mass surveillance or fighting for just causes. Mr Gilmor underlined that being a journalist is an activist's role by definition: journalists are risking their lives and freedom to bring changes in various cultures. The risk to avoid is propagaganda. Mr Gilmor explained that he did not believe in objectivity and neutrality; they are hard to achieve. They are more like unicorns. It is very hard to stay neutral on some pieces of news. Journalists have to engage. They can not be neutral. Mr. Gilmore posed the question several times during his presentation: "Are we doing our jobs correctly as journalists?"

GEN Summit audience

The second presentation was about the latest projects for the digital versions of The Washington Post from Cory Haik, Executive Producer and Senior Editor, Digital News for The Washington Post. The buy-out from Amazon and the move by Jeff Bezos towards the newspaper from D.C. has really improved journalists' working conditions. The money has helped to hire a huge number of journalists (over a hundred). There are now teams of newswriters, editors, designers and technology specialists envisioning and creating the future of The Washington Post. Multiple applications have been developped and are now available for news consumers on different formats, smartphones (on Android), smart watches (on the Apple watch), tablets and the Kindle Fire Tablets (project rainbow) from Amazon with a six month free-trial for the Post’s application. It has completely transformed the way to produce, edit and offer news content to an audience. The Washington Post is available across a diverse format. The end result is an wonderful example of success between news specialists, journalists, editors and IT companies (such as Amazon). The team produces two editions for tablets at 5am and 5pm.  For smartphones, the edition is uploaded live all day long. Every picture used in the article is in high resolution. What we saw was impressive. 

Then came the most highly anticipated presentation of the GEN Summit 2015: David Drummond, Senior Vice President of Google. He was there to talk about what Google could still bring to the future of news. He began by saying that "quality and ambition in journalism seems to get higher every day" and that he hoped that Google would be able to bring back Google News in Spain. His message was promising. Google wants to support innovation and high quality journalism. Google is aware that making news is not its domain. It wants to collaborate hand in hand with news companies to produce quality contents in the near future. 

Mr Drummond announced that Google would support media innovators with a fund aimed at news companies in Europe. More details would be announced in September. During the question and answer session with the audience, Mr Drummond heard that journalists from Asia, and from other countries outside Europe, might feel neglected by the Google fund's European focus. His reply was that the European fund was not a delibarate decision to exclude other journalists across the world. Worldwide projects might follow if the European plan for september is a success. Mr Drummond added that Google was a partner of the GEN Summit and was very helpful for GEN's support in the amazing innovations showcased in the Data Journalism Awards.