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Easter, celebration of Hope, prepares us to our World Congress : message of SIGNIS president
Havana, April 11, 2017. To all members and associates of SIGNIS. Dear colleagues, I hope this letter finds you in good health and spirits. It is my pleasure to write to you again on the occasion of Easter, our most important celebration as Christians. Easter is a feast of renewal, and it is most significant that this time it will be when our Association is gearing up for its main event, the SIGNIS World Congress, to be held in Québec, Canada, on June 19 to 22, 2017. It is most significant, because our World Congresses are themselves marvelous occasions for renewal at a personal, professional and spiritual level: they give us the opportunity to get together with friends and colleagues from all corners of the world and experience that unique feeling of being one in our faith, one in our vocation as communicators and one in our commitment as builders of a culture of peace; at the same time so wonderfully diverse, coming from so many different countries and cultures. In addition to celebrating the bonds of friendship and comradeship that we have built among ourselves over the years, uniting our Association as one worldwide family, we will exchange valuable experiences and further expand the substantial body of knowledge and expertise accumulated by our members in all fields of communication. The knowledge and expertise have been successfully put to the test under the most diverse situations but now face the challenge of a rapidly changing media environment. During the Congress, top experts will enlighten us on the latest developments, helping us steer SIGNIS in the right direction, but it will be our members, active at seminars and film festivals, courses and other events of training and spiritual growth, through radio, TV, cinema, journalism, media education or any other of our diverse fields of activity, who will conduct that process of continuous revitalization required to allow SIGNIS to serve its members and the Church efficiently in these demanding times. The Congress will also bring renewal to SIGNIS through changes in the leadership of the Association, with the election of the President, Vice-Presidents, General Treasurer and Secretary General, and the creation of a new Assembly of Delegates, as elected by our members in their regional groups. It is to be expected that some will remain in their posts, bringing a desirable degree of continuity, but the opportunity must be taken to bring in new ideas and new energy. The arrival of Easter does not mean that everything is already new. There is still hunger, poverty, and homelessness many of us turn our backs on. There is still injustice and violence, and innocent people who are suffering. Tens of Coptic Christians were slaughtered in a terrorist attack in two churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday, in another episode of the never ending martyrdom of Christians in the Middle East. Our thoughts and prayers go to the victims and their families. Only the Risen Christ can shine a light of hope on such a world. Only a victory as definitive as His could make the Apostle exclaim: “Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor 15, 55). It is in that certainty that we celebrate Easter, the feast of renewal and hope, with complete confidence in the merciful love of God, as we prepare for our World Congress promoting stories of hope. And it is with these feelings that, together with my Vice-Presidents Lawrence John Sinniah and Frank Frost, I wish you all and your families a most happy Easter. Gustavo Andújar President of SIGNIS
New book on conflict reporting
Germany, April, 12th, 2017 (KAS). The Media Program South East Europe of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation has published a new expert book: "Conflict reporting in the smartphone era – from budget constraints to information warfare". Conflicts such as in Ukraine and Syria are influencing European foreign and domestic policies to a large extent, for example when dealing with refugees and the Islamic world, but also with regard to Russia. Conflict reporting therefore has gained importance and visibility recently. At the same time this field of journalism has changed strongly. Wars nowadays don’t always have clearly identifiable opponents anymore but rather several and new types of warring parties. Besides that, they are accompanied with massive propaganda on social media. Reporters do not only have to deal with these new types of conflicts, but also have to fulfil increasing demands. "Due to financial pressure in the media market, reporters have to cover more issues and larger geographical areas. The increase in speed through the internet demands that articles and multimedia reports are made available more quickly," says Christian Spahr, Head of the KAS Media Program South East Europe. Due to smaller budgets, editors are forced to stop sending their own staff and use the work of freelancers instead. However, this often happens at the expense of journalists’ safety, for instance if they don’t have appropriate protective gear or on-site support. The book "Conflict reporting in the smartphone era – from budget constraints to information warfare" not only presents existing recommendations of international organisations, but also new trends of reporting. Moreover, the authors like Susanne Glass, Christian Mihr, Aidan White und Ruslan Trad give advice on safe, professional and ethical reporting from conflict zones. The publication hence addresses journalists who report under difficult working conditions in the field. This publication was initiated in 2015 following a KAS conference "The truth dies first – journalists in conflict zones" in Sofia. The event brought journalists from South East Europe, Germany and Ukraine together to discuss current tendencies in conflict reporting and formulate recommendations. The event report is available here. The book is here available for download.