Israel as a multimedia experience  

Ideas are the currency of the future and quality journalistic work is crucial for the sustainability of the field. Therefore, the Zeitungsverlegerverband Hamburg (newspaper publishers’ society Hamburg, ZVH) invests in creativity and quality. And the best way to boost both is to fuel advanced training of young but experienced journalists.

What kind of training is needed, and what are the objectives?

Newspapers are currently in the process of moving from print to online; from product to brand. Journalism has to reinvent itself to some extent and digitalization and internationalisation are  the main challenges. Thus the idea was born at the ZVH: Sponsor an ambitious advanced training program for journalists from Hamburg, that will help them improve their international and crosscultural understanding as well as their digital skills.

This could have been executed in Europe or even in the U.S., but and even more challenging endeavor would be to run the program in the Middle East.

Because of the special relationship between Germany and Israel, it was decided to hold the program there, with the Axel Springer Akademie, the biggest and currently most innovative and successfull school of journalism in Germany, running the program.

Once the decision was made, seven young German journalists from the BILD-family, the newspaper brand DIE WELT, from BERGEDORFER ZEITUNG and HAMBURGER ABENDBLATT went to Israel,  where they met eight Israeli journalists from HAARETZ, THEMARKER, JERUSALEM POST and YNET. The training program was scheduled for almost two weeks in September 2011, a few days before Rosh Hashanah and coinciding with the date on which the UN was to recognize Palestinian statehood.

The training was held at the Peres Center for Peace in Tel Aviv Yaffo, offering inspiring atmosphere. The lectureres were recruited in Germany and from the BBC in London. The group also hosted several special guests, in particular  the Israeli president, Shimon Peres, and the famous businessman and philanthropist Prof. Dov Lautman. The journalists had dinner with the German ambassador to Israel Andreas Michaelis and Israeli journalism giant, Uzi Benziman. And the participants went out to cover stories, to meet celbrities and people of interest like Israeli poster artist Yossi Lemel and Professor Eli Pollak, chairman of Israeli media watch. And the group of course  visited Yad Vashem and the editorial department of Haaretz and – thanks to the personal advice of Yossi Vardi – they went to Jerusalem and Masada, the Dead Sea and Haifa as well.

The program was based on two pillars: theoretical lectures and practical exercises with personal, individualized coaching. All the participants worked together to contribute to a webpage that was constructed during the training in Israel. The site has horizontal navigation (curled up like a Torah scroll) and is called „Harbour Tales“ as a tribute to Hamburg, the gate to the world, and Yaffo, the old harbour of Tel Aviv.

The stories, coverage and commentary on the page were selected by the young participants who debated the topics amongst themselves in a highly creative and ambitious setting, fostered by the mutual respect of 15 young journalists hailing from different cultures, nations and religions. The page as a whole is neither a balanced message nor tailored for a special target group.

The final product can be seen in the following templates. Enjoy reading the texts, listening to the audioslideshows and watching the videos, the products of a truly unique and inspiring group of young journalists.                     rp