Workshop - International News Literacy: Understanding the Others, Austria

Publish Date: Oct 12, 2015

Deadline: Nov 06, 2015

Vienna, the capital that hosts top level international negotiations and regional summits, and the headquarters of several international organizations, is becoming an information hub for specialized international information that is often underutilized by the Austrian media. The International News Literacy workshop is designed to build an analytical framework for a better comprehension of international developments.

Is it always easy for journalists to have an in-depth understanding of diverse international realities? Does the avalanche of news ensure quality information? Do we know about the US as much as we think that we know? Do we understand the motives that guide the US voters to elect their presidents? Is it possible to interpret the Russian/Ukrainian conflict without passion? Are we fully aware of how Kyiv and Moscow conduct their policies? Millions of refugees are leaving the Middle East, but are we properly informed about the events on the ground?

Even when all the relevant facts are enumerated, one may fail to read events on the ground. Why? In order to read those events, one needs to understand the context, the nuances, and local perceptions, the particular Weltanschauung or world view.

The five-day International News Literacy workshop focuses on interactive training and discussions, designed for gaining skills and knowledge that facilitate the interpretation of international events, including wars and crises. While the challenges of covering the United States of America, the Russian Federation and the Middle East will be scrutinised, examples will be drawn from other parts of the world, especially Europe.

What will you learn?

The workshop constructs the analytical framework for improved comprehension of the international news coverage, based on the following skills:

  • Evaluating information sources: traditional media, social media, governments, NGOs, think tanks, user-generated content.
  • Improving the use of social media resources.
  • Analysing the elements that influence/determine international news coverage.
  • Identifying local perceptions that influence political developments.
  • Better comprehension of war reporting.
  • Handling media from different political systems.

Target Groups:

  • Young journalists and junior professionals interested in international political developments and therefore need to understand foreign news media coverage. (Minimum 2 years of working experience is required. Working in the foreign news department is not a prerequisite.)
  • Full-time master, doctoral and postdoctoral students in communication and international relations are welcome. (Scholarships are available. See below.)


Mirjana Tomic, international journalist and communications consultant, conceived the workshop and conducts the introductory session. Additional speakers include top national and international experts, such as:

  • Hannes Swoboda: Austrian politician, former member of the European Parliament and president of the group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats;
  • Thomas Seifert: Wiener Zeitung, Austria, deputy editor-in-chief;
  • Melita Sunjic: UNHCR, senior communication officer; worked in 20 war and conflict areas;
  • Khaled Yacoub Oweis: Reuters senior correspondent in Syria and the Middle East; fellow in the project The Fragmentation of Syria at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, Berlin, Germany.
  • Viola Raheb: consultant of several Austrian ministries on the cross-cultural dialogue; University of Vienna, Austria.
  • Diana Kachalova: Novaya Gazeta, St. Petersburg, Russian Federation, editor-in-chief; founder of several independent media outlets;
  • Philippe Gélie: Le Figaro, France, deputy editorial director; former correspondent in Washington, US;
  • Georg Hoffmann-Ostenhof: Profil, Austria, columnist, international politics;
    Spokespersons of the major Vienna-based international organisations;
  • Jutta Sommerbauer, Die Presse, foreign desk, specializes in Eastern Europe;
  • Social media experts from leading Austrian media.

Workshop Topics:

Introduction to International Reporting

  • Changing media landscape and international news reporting.
  • International News Sources and Quality Reporting
  • News sources in different political systems: media, governments, international organizations, NGOs and civil society.
  • Quality reporting: essential elements.

War and Crisis Reporting

  • Changing nature of wars and war coverage.
  • The role of propaganda.
  • What makes war reporting different?
  • Information sources.
  • Evaluation of sources.

Social Media and International News Reporting

  • Do social media democratize or jeopardize the international news coverage?
  • Search and research on social media.
  • Following and verifying news on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Exemplary use of social media: Islamic State.

Geographic Focus: Reporting Challenges, Background Knowledge and Information Sources

  • Covering and understanding Russia.
  • United States of America beyond Hollywood movies and top music charts: what matters to the US citizens when they vote?
  • Middle East: what do we know and what do we think we know?
  • Political background of the current refugee flow and its implications.

Vienna-based International Organizations as Information Sources

  • How can journalists improve the use of information and knowledge generated by the Vienna-based international institutions?

Practical information:

  • The training is conducted in both English and German.
  • Maximum number of participants: 12.

Tuition fee and grants:

  • Euro 1000,- for one week. Registration deadline for the paying participants:  Friday, 6 November 2015.
  • Eight (8) full and partial scholarships are available.
    Scholarships are available for both freelance (up to 100% grant) and full- time journalists working for the Austrian media, NGO communication specialists, full-time graduate students and in exceptional cases, scholarship can be granted, based on other professional achievements in line with the workshop content. Registration deadline for scholarship applicants:  Friday, 30 October 2015.
  • Please fill out the application form -

For more information:

  • Daniela Kraus, fjum director,
  • Gunther Müller, fjum programm coordinator,
  • Mirjana Tomic, workshop leader,, mobile: 0676 3652 693

About Mirjana Tomic:

Mirjana Tomic conceptualized the International News Literacy Workshop for fjum. Her professional experience encompasses journalism, including war reporting, for the Spanish daily El País, and collaboration with major European media, such as Foreign Policy-Spanish edition, BBC-Latin American Service, Radio Svizzera di lingua italiana, Il Messaggero, etc; public information for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO); political analyses for major European think-tanks, and lecturing at different European universities: Complutense, IE University, Urbino, Milano-Bicocca, Heidelberg, Vienna, etc.

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