Future News Worldwide 2017

From 5-7 July 2017, 100 of the brightest young journalists from across the globe gathered at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh for Future News Worldwide, an international conference run by the British Council in partnership with some of the world's leading news organisations. 

Amongst them was Suka Junin from the University of Technology Sydney and Riley Wilson from the University of New South Wales, who were selected to join the once-in-a-lifetime event after an international call-out earlier this year.

With exclusive access to some of world’s leading editors, broadcasters and reporters from organisations like CNN, Reuters, the BBC, Google News and Facebook, it was a unique opportunity to network and gain insight into the changing ways news was delivered.

Topics under the lens included the power of storytelling and the challenges facing journalism in the digital age. With the media itself increasingly the subject of news headlines, the conference was a timely opportunity to focus on the universal values of objectivity, balance and evidence that underpin the journalism trade. 

The delegates represented the very best of the future news generation. A competitive process saw almost 2,000 applications received from aspiring journalists across the world, aged from 18-25. From there 100 outstanding individuals were selected from 42 countries including Russia, China, Afghanistan, Turkey, Sudan, Uruguay and Germany, Australia and the United Kingdom.

We caught up with Suka and Riley on their return from Edinburgh to find out more about their experience - see below to find out more. You can also view some of the highlights from the event - including tweets, quotes, polls, videos, photos and more - here.

INTERVIEW WITH SUKA JUNIN

1.     Tell us about your background and what attracted you to Future News Worldwide?

Born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia, I moved to Sydney to study at the University of Technology, Sydney. I’m in my final year of my Bachelor’s degree in Communications majoring in Journalism and I’m starting my final semester this Spring.  

My father was the one who actually who told me about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I applied and was delightfully surprised when I was shortlisted to attend FNW 2017. The real question is: what didn’t attract me to FNW? Everything described about the conference sounded incredible and I would’ve regretted it immensely if didn’t apply for it. 

The chance to rub shoulders with some of the most highly experienced journalism professionals definitely attracted me into applying for FNW. And of course, the opportunity to visit the beautiful country that is Scotland.

2.     Where does your passion for journalism stem from?

I’ve always had a passion for writing and storytelling. With these two in mind, it was clear that journalism was a path I should take. After gaining experiences in the industry during my gap year, it only confirmed my love for it and I had to do everything I could to get involved. Passion isn’t passion without getting involved and FNW was the most perfect way to do it.

3.     The conference is supported by some of the world’s leading media organisations. Tells us about some of your conference highlights? 

The conference was filled with amazing guest speakers and everyone gave their worldly experiences through their own unique ways. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to all the journalism professionals and their insights into the industry. I particularly enjoyed David Pratt from Herald Scotland speak about his experiences on storytelling and the importance of empathy and sensitivity when interviewing sources and writing stories. Alessandra Galloni from Reuters was also a pleasure, as her words were truly encouraging to hear when there’s an uncertain future in journalism. 

In addition to this, a major highlight was of course meeting the other 99 delegates from 43 countries! I don’t believe there will be another event where I will have the opportunity to meet such a diverse group of young aspiring journalists. Seeing all of us together in one room sharing the same enthusiasm in a time where journalists are being scrutinised more than ever is refreshing to see. Finally of course, having the Parliament House as our second home for 3 days was unbelievable in a country so full of history. 

4.     The journalism and media landscape is changing dramatically because of our digital habits. Can you tell us about what you learned about digital journalism at the conference and how you think a journalist’s role may change as a result of new technologies?

Guest speaker Christina Lamb made a great point that changes in journalism can be a threat as well as an opportunity. Google News Lab’s Matt Cooke gave us insider tips on how to better utilise Google’s latest technologies, showing us that digital changes can give us an advantage. 

Social media also gave rise to the constant 24 hour news cycle and with this in mind, it puts pressure on journalists to be the first to break the stories. I think this has made journalists even more careful to maintain accuracy, making their role in telling the truth all the more important. 

5.     What’s next for you and your journalism studies/career?

I’d love to graduate first (haha!) and I’m already in the process of finding what’s out there for me. I hope to start my career in journalism in an organization that aligns with my passion and beliefs. I’d love to get my foot in the door of a print media organisation, where I get to put my writing skills to test. Whether that be in Sydney, Jakarta or anywhere else in the world, my passion for sharing stories with the world will always be there. [Future News Worldwide] was undoubtedly the best experience I’ve ever had in my short 21 years of life. I got to travel from one end of the world to another to attend a conference about something I care deeply about. I would have never been able to do this without the British Council’s tremendous effort into putting together such a special event.

INTERVIEW WITH RILEY WILSON

1.     Tell us about your background and what attracted you to Future News Worldwide?

I am, and have long been, deeply passionate about people and telling their stories, so journalism was — in many ways — a perfect fit. I currently work for the Sydney Morning Herald as a print sub and iPad producer, and as a freelance food and travel writer/editor for publications in Australia, Europe and the USA. I was attracted to Future News Worldwide for the incredible opportunity to engage with other driven, curious young professionals and the chance to learn from industry leaders, especially as our craft faces unprecedented disruption. 

2.     Where does your passion for journalism stem from?

My passion for journalism stems from a passion to tell stories. Every person has a story and this craft gives me the great privilege of telling them. 

3.     The conference is supported by some of the world’s leading media organisations. Tells us about some of your conference highlights?  

Honestly, the entire conference was a highlight. It was clear that the individuals and organisations were selected for their great insight into the field, and their stories and perspectives were fantastic. Hearing firsthand about life as a war correspondent from David Pratt and Christina Lamb offered deeply personal insight into a field many of us examined with new eyes; Google News Lab's Matt Cooke gave a very productive and hands-on talk about the tools Google has that can benefit journalists, many of which I had yet to encounter; and the panel discussion with David Milne, Nick Wren, Matt Cooke, Adnan Sarwar, Callum Baird and Christina Lamb became more of an open discussion, inviting delegates into the conversation about the challenges we all collectively face and how we might rise to the occasion. 

4.     The journalism and media landscape is changing dramatically because of our digital habits. Can you tell us about what you learned about digital journalism at the conference and how you think a journalist’s role may change as a result of new technologies? 

Digital journalism is here to stay;  as a medium, it's not going anywhere. However, at the conference, it was clear that the general consensus among speakers — and one that I firmly agree with — is that the medium should never get in the way of the story. In our changing mediascape, we have to make the medium work for the stories we are trying to tell. Financially, the challenge remain huge for media organisations. But if storytelling quality remains high, and media transparency is clear, that's two steps in the right direction. 

5.     What’s next for you and your journalism studies/career? 

Being at the FNW conference and among future leaders from 42 different countries was motivating and grounding. As journalists and a craft in times of challenge and disruption, we are greater together than we are at loggerheads. I believe the future of news is in great hands if my peers are anything to go by. Being at the conference also led me to consider other mediums for my own craft, especially television and radio, that I hadn't considered before. I look forward to exploring those further. More than anything though, I am so incredibly grateful for the connections that I made with other globally-aware young media professionals, and the leaders in this field, and look forward to collaborating with them further.  What a fantastic privilege. Thank you so very much, British Council.