Speaking with One Another Rather Than about One Another: The First China-Germany-USA Media Forum
Editors in chief and well-known media representatives from China, Germany, and the United States came together in Berlin for the first joint media forum between the three nations. On the invitation of the Robert Bosch Stiftung, they talked about journalistic challenges that extend beyond their own national borders - from fake news and continuing digitization on to the media’s responsibilities.
The challenges that journalism faces in China, Germany, and the United States are diverse yet similar: the role of the media in the "post-fact age" and dealing with fake news, the future of newspapers, continuing digitalization in the media, and the responsibility of the media when reporting on terrorist attacks.
At the First China-Germany-USA Media Forum, which took place from May 8 to 10, 2017, in Berlin, eight high-ranking media representatives from each country discussed the aforementioned topics as well as other current questions from the worlds of media, politics, and economics. The overarching theme of this year’s forum was "Global Pressures and Domestic Responses: German, Chinese, and US Perspectives." Uta-Micaela Dürig, Chief Executive Officer of the Robert Bosch Stiftung, emphasized the importance of the trilateral exchange on a level playing field. Another important part of this is "discussing topics openly from different perspectives, and yet talking with one another rather than about one another," says Dürig.
The Robert Bosch Stiftung puts on the China-Germany-USA Media Forum in cooperation with the Chinese daily newspaper Global Times and in collaboration with the Center for Transatlantic Relations of Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C. The trilateral media forum is meant to foster understanding for different perspectives, thereby contributing to more diversified reporting.
Barbara Hans, Spiegel Online:
"The media forum’s special format offers a one-time opportunity to talk with colleagues from China and the United States in an open and trusting dialog, to question your own view on things, and to take a closer look at issues that might appear to be matters of course. The continuity is particularly special: it makes it possible to build upon debates from previous years, to discuss any changes, and then gain insights into the political and societal changes from three different perspectives. For me, being able to take part is very enriching."
Wolfgang Krach, Süddeutsche Zeitung:
"Meeting colleagues from China and the USA is a great opportunity to share experiences, get impressions and learn from each other. Also, the meeting offers the chance to overcome prejudices, that probably most of us have, and replace them with well-founded appraisals."
Manfred Hart, BILD:
"'The Chinese would vote for Merkel.' - This Chinese Participant's statement is suprising and reveals the forum's atmosphere with German, American, and Chinese colleagues. Trump, Xi, free trade, fake news, newspapers at the edge, terror, North Korea - intensive, open-minded, and often hard-fought discussions with passionate journalists from different media cultures."
Joachim Dorfs, Stuttgarter Zeitung:
The discussions were extremely stimulated by extending the group of participants with Americans. First, the trilateral approach offers new perspectives. Second, topics can be discussed differently. This became especially clear, when the media's development was on the agenda. We didn't focus a lot on China, this time we reflected ourselves and did self-criticism."
Andreas Cichowicz, NDR:
"Hearing, understanding, and respecting other perspectives - for me, that’s the core value of this media forum!"
Ines Pohl, Deutsche Welle:
"I have never experienced anything like it - people from China, the United States, and Germany sitting at one table and not just complaining about the shortcomings of the other countries. Instead, the participants were astoundingly self-critical and addressed their own mistakes. This creates openness, a feeling of esteem. This, in turn, also creates the opportunity to truly improve how we deal with each other!"
Andreas Wunn, ZDF:
"It is nothing less than a privilege to be a part of the China-Germany-USA Media Forum with top-notch colleagues. Open discussions, valuable insights, and long-term relationships - it all allows the three countries on three different continents to come a bit closer together."
Birgit Wentzien, Deutschlandfunk:
"It was my first time and I was able to benefit greatly from the level of trust among the partners. The participants maintain a standard of openness and readiness for debate that is really noteworthy. We listen to each other and provide answers. We accept each other along with the individual perspective and story. Thank you for the opportunity to take part in the discussions!"
Study Tour in Hamburg
After the forum concluded, a study tour brought the American and Chinese participants to Hamburg. Their agenda included talks with Dr. Carsten Brosda, Hamburg’s Senator for Media and Culture, and the Hamburg Port Authority. A two-hour tour - both on foot and by boat - took the media representatives closer to the transatlantic and transpacific connections of Hamburg harbor and led through, among other places, the HafenCity district, Hamburg’s "new downtown" along the Elbe river. Furthermore, the participants of the study tour stopped by the Tagesschau studio and gained some insight into the production and working environment of Germany’s most-watched news show. The cultural highlight of the tour was a concert at the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie, where the participants listened to the sounds of Steve Reich’s postmodern piece "Drums."
Hu Xijin, editor in chief of Chinese daily newspaper Global Times, opens the warm-up event.
All the participants took a moment to show the others on a map where they feel at home or where their heart lies - which resulted in quite a few surprises.
The participants at the round table in the Berlin Office of the Robert Bosch Stiftung.
Among others, Wolfgang Krach, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Hu Xijin, Global Times, Uta-Micaela Dürig, Robert Bosch Stiftung, and Douglas Jehl, Washington Post, had seats around the round table.
Bai Yansong is a star TV host at CCTV, the Chinese state TV network, and is well known for his pithy parlance.
Bruce Dold is the publisher and editor in chief of the Chicago Tribune.
The participants of the First China–Germany-USA Media Forum.