Social journalism: giving voice to those who haven’t got it

March 25, 2014

UntitledThe international seminar “Social journalism as public work: experience and research in Russia, the USA and Northern Europe countries” was held on March 17-18th at Saint Petersburg State University on the base of School of Journalism & Mass Communications. The seminar was organized with assistance of Consulate General of the USA and Finland in Saint Petersburg.

About 70 people took part in the meeting: professors and students from SPbU and other universities of the city as well as representatives of universities of Omsk, Volgograd, Voronezh and Moscow. Among the invited speakers and experts there were Public Affairs Officer of the Consulate General of the USA Steven Labensky, Press Officer of the Consulate General of Finland Susanna Niinivaara, Business Consulting Baltic Bridge (Finland) company representative Alexander Maximov, St. Petersburg children's rights commissioner, Svetlana Agapitova, “Channel 5” presenter Roman Gerasimov, Press Secretary of Committee on social policy of St.Petersburg Ekaterina Mayboroda, representatives of Södertörn University (Sweden), University of Maryland (USA) and University of Tampere (Finland).

Chairman of the organizing committee professor Sergey Korkonosenko stressed that university life is unthinkable without international cooperation. "We should hold such meetings regularly", he said. "Discussions at international level have already become our constant practice".

On the first day there was a podium discussion as well as seminars devoted to social journalism and ist mission in Russia, the USA and Northern Europe countries. The participants discussed a number of topics: confrontation of commercial and ideological and ethical principles in modern media, mass audience demand for social information, agenda setting and so on.

Maryland University professor Mark Feldstein shared his experience in “hospital model of study” for future American journalists on example of the project “Innocent condemned”. University od Tampere professor Elina Grundström traced the dynamics of priorities change in social problems coverage in Finnish media. Södertörn University doctor Peter Petrov gave a report about preferences of the social journalism audience in Sweden. Northern Europe press expert Alexander Maximov described the factors of successful development of social journalism in Denmark, Norway and Iceland. TV presenter Roman Gerasimov noticed that it’s necessary to educate the audience and for that the social interest of the media must be above the commercial one. SPbU professor Marina Berezhnaya told about complex principles of social journalism teaching developed in SPbU.

The second day of the seminar was devoted to applied communication in the area of social responsibility. There were raised various questions: social responsibility of PR specialists, ethical aspects of professional communicators training, educational standards, graduates competencies and so on.

The seminar gave an opportunity for Russian and foreign experts to discuss together actual questions of theory and practice of journalism and applied communications.

"Cooperation of the Center for advanced training and scientific department of School of Journalism & Mass Communications was really productive", noticed the chef of the Center Marina Maevskaya. "We will keep on using such meeting format as it turned out very good in participant’s opinion".

After the seminar collected articles will be published. They surely will have a wide distribution among Russian and foreign specialists. Experience of previous international meetings of the kind shows that they are in popular demand among researchers, teachers and students.

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