Tuesday, August 26, 2008

How internet has changed societies

Yesterday we started the Internet workshop for Tanzanian journalists at the Tanzania Global Development Learning Centre here in Dar es Salaam. The workshop is organized by MISA-Tanzania, the local chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa, together with the Vikes Foundation, the organization for international cooperation of the Union of Journalists and other journalist associations in Finland.

I think the workshop started quite well. We have about twenty participants from twelve different media houses in Tanzania. There’s eight radio journalists, four TV journalists, and the rest are from the print media, with representatives from almost the whole Tanzanian mainstream media.

In the morning we had a short introduction of the participants. For me as the lecturer, it was very interesting to hear in what ways they are already using the internet at their newsrooms. Some are using it more, some less, but all said they were eager to learn more.

The first actual topic was how internet has changed societies and communication. I showed some examples of how people in Finland are getting their train tickets, paying their bills and finding phone numbers through the internet.

We also went briefly though some websites which have had an influence on the development of the internet to what it is today: websites such as eBay and Amazon all along to Wikipedia and the Blogger. This part was quite much based on a story from the Observer with the headline “Websites that changed the world”.

My point was that of course the new ways how people do their shopping and use services through the internet also has huge consequences for the media. We journalists also have to learn new ways how to construct and package our news and any other stories in any media.

Close to afternoon we then got into trouble, as the network went down. The reason was that all the bandwidth was occupied by a video conference held in another room beside our multimedia facility. So the afternoon was a small disaster, and instead of doing the practical issues I had planned for us to do it was more like just lecturing.

However, at the end of the day we were promised by the director of the venue that during the coming days there wouldn’t be a video conference anymore, so hopefully the network problem is now over.

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