Approximately a month ago, I was one of the lucky ones to seize the opportunity to be a participant of 28th European Meeting on Cultural Journals. By accident, the professor from my former university invited me to participate in the conference that was held in Tartu. In spite of being overloaded with my studies and other plans, I decided to go. And now, I can admit it was not in vain. So, I would like to share why it was worth it and hope to inspire you to do the same.

What is the conference about?

The 28th European Meeting on Cultural Journals was organized by NGO “Eurozine”, mainly known as, “a network of European cultural journals, linking up more than 80 partner journals as well as associated magazines and institutions from nearly all European countries”. The members of Eurozine intend to bring up current issues and provide a Europe-wide overview of them by presenting articles of networks’ partners. Encouraging the lively discussion on different topics, the members of Eurozine aim to increase communication and exchange between leading European journals and to offer “public space of a new type for open and critical debate on a transnational level”.

Annually the Eurozine members gather together on European Meeting to discuss the most topical issue of the year, to share their knowledge and experience, and to find out together solutions to the current challenges. This year the conference took place in Tartu. It was organized in cooperation with Eurozine partner journal Vikerkaar, the Institute of Social Studies at the University of Tartu and the Estonian cultural organization SA Kultuurileht. The conference brought together around 70 people: the representatives of all-Europe journals, as well as non-members of Eurozine, for example, students like me.

This year the topic of the conference was “Democracy delivered? Europe between digital salvation and post-truth resignation”. It is impossible to ignore the growing impact of the digital technologies on our social and political life that has, indeed, been changing our communication. This shift has brought new challenges as well as new possibilities to the world that we should accept and find a way to gain more benefits and manage the treats. Hence, it was expected to discuss the pros and cons of the digital revolution and its effect on the democracy.

How was it?

For three days of the conference, the members were trying to find out how to assess the consequences of the digital revolution in the democratic societies. On the first day, we were greeted with the opening presentation on Cultural Journalism in Europe by Professor of Emeritus and University of Tartu, Marju Lauristin and on the Transformation of Cultural Hierarchies in European Newspaper Culture Sections, 1960-2010 by the professor of University of Tamper, Semi Purhonen. After that the director of the Share Foundation and chair of the New Media Department at the University of Novi Sad, Serbia, prof. Vladan Joler presented us his finding of the cyber-forensic analyst’s research and introduced several classifications of bots used during the presidential campaign.

The next day we had three panel discussions. On the first discussion “Democracy´s deliverance? Assessing the political potential of internet technologies”, the participants had an opportunity to get to know about the benefits of the technologies on the maintaining democracy. On that panel, the auditory had a chance to learn how the digital technologies have fostered the shift in governance in implementing e-government. Contrary to the first topic, on the second panel “Infowars: Disinformation and democracy in the digital eco-system” we considered the pitfalls of the digitalizing – disinformation and its proliferation in the digital eco-system. As a wrap-up of the day, on the last session, that was dedicated to “Epistemocracies: Post-truth and cultural power”, intended to define what is “post-truth” in a contemporary context and how we should respond to the new challenges of the digitalizing world.

On the last day of the session, we were invited to participate in different workshops. I chose “Cross-media publishing” where different tools for media usage were presented. The participants were welcomed to share their experience of using different tools like blogs, content curation and else. Thus, the participants came up with different ideas how to tackle upon occurring problems of their colleagues based on their own experiences.

What I gained?

Taking part in the conference was, indeed, a fruitful experience. Not only did I gain a new knowledge but I also had a unique opportunity to meet incredible people all over the Europe that gathered together to discuss journalism. During the three days, I meet different incredible people that shared their experience with me that introduced some insights of how is to be a journalist. The conference also led me into the deep thought about our world and the impact of the digital revolution on our social life. It was a valuable experience where I broadened my knowledge and gained new skills. In addition, this conference has inspired me for new achievements and it, literally, breathed a fresh air that was so essential to keep myself productive during sometimes tedious studying days. Thus I will recommend you not to lose a chance to attend any cultural or academic event as it will enrich your knowledge and social network, also, inspire you.

Written By: 
Anastasiia Popova (Ukraine)
MA in Democracy and Governance

Photos By:
Erika Renel (Eurozine)