My Impressions of the Media Study Tour to Berlin

The Delegates Share their Experiences from Berlin
Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom sub-Saharan Africa

FNF South Africa organised a media study tour to Berlin, Germany for selected delegates early in September. These are their impressions of the week-long stay in Berlin.

Michael Morris - Institute of Race Relations

My take-home lesson is incorporated in my Business Day/Businesslive column, published recently (and copied below), which is that it is possible for societies to recover, through freedom, from even the most appalling excesses of atrocity and error, yet are compelled to remain vigilant and mindful of the fact that freedom itself is the fundamental condition of justice, and cannot be taken for granted. The FNF programme was exceptional in providing insights into the dynamics of the elaboration of post-war and post-Wall democracy, and, indeed, the vigilance being brought to bear by the media and civil society in sustaining Germany’s inspiring engagement with its history and with the challenges of its present.

Please find below Michael Morris's column on the Business Daytitled “Freedom is not a given and requires constant vigilance"

Andisiwe Makinana - Parliamentary Reporter, Sunday Times

The Berlin media study tour was an eye-opener in many ways for me and also presented me with my first trip to Europe. While I knew the complex and ugly history of Germany, I appreciated being there in person and learning not only about the destruction all those decades ago, but the rebuilding of that society. A lot of it resonated with me as a South African, a country with a similar troubled history. Germany showed us that if there is a will, a nation can rebuild itself from the ashes. As a journalist in South Africa, we are often told that publications are nothing without advertising. Germany taught me that in fact, the opposite could be true, co-ops are a thing in journalism and this has inspired me to think differently about my future as a journalist.

James MyburghEditor & Publisher,

I found the study tour in Berlin both interesting and useful - and there are certainly a number of lessons that I am hoping to implement with Politicsweb in the next few weeks. The German media is wrestling, like we are, with how to deal with the particular challenges of the internet age. This had brought down distribution costs to nothing, but has also obliterated old advertising based business models. The presentations at TAZ and Krautreporter were most applicable in practical terms. The key takeaway from these presentations is the need to convert one's core readership into paid up members of the publication. 

Phumi Mashigo - Ignitive 

The tour and conference with FNF was one of the most informative and eye opening experiences I have had in the currently rapidly changing media landscape today. During the time that we were in Berlin I had a chance to deeply reflect on our own business and models that we are using to grow and I have several notes that I have already started incorporating into my day to day operations. Also being with the group of peers from South Africa gave me the chance to connect with other professionals in our space from ‘competitors’ and that was also a very useful way to connect outside of the hustle of everyday deadlines. I truly enjoyed the experience and would love very much to contribute if you ever do a reciprocal experience for professional in Germany interested in South Africa.

Greg Cohen - Station Manager, Cliff Central

A well thought-out media study tour that was interesting, informative and well organised. The tour encapsulated some of the areas in which Germany is thriving (especially in the media space) and I found many lessons to take away - particularly from the start-ups and publications that we visited. The FNF team were a pleasure to work with and helpful every step of the way!

Siviwe Gwarube - Executive Director Communications, Democratic Alliance

I found the study tour incredibly enlightening. Learning about how Germany is adapting to the changing world of online content and balancing that with the constitutionally protected freedom of expression highlighted the need for a similar conversation in South Africa. South African legislation is years behind the online world. That means legislators, particularly those incoming, need to urgently bring this issue to the floor of Parliament in order for the country to grapple with this new kind of citizen journalism and how this may impact constitutionally protected rights. 

Marshalle Frederiks - Press Officer National Press Office, Democratic Alliance

The media study tour was truly fascinating. What stood out to me was how the German society realised how important an independent and diverse media space is to strengthen their hard-earned democracy. Journalists and citizens alike are investing in online media platforms because, if the past has taught them one thing, it’s that no one individual or group should have a monopoly over the media. 

Gareth Cliff - Cliff Central

The study tour to Berlin was tremendously interesting, packed with really useful information (and people) and some practical and useful insights into the German media landscape, media start-ups, freedom of speech issues and more. I am pleased we got to spend time with so many people who are experts in their field, and who have imparted some valuable knowledge to us at a time South Africa needs to define a new direction - both in politics and media.