Dr. McDevitt expressed that the media represent a critical area of work and asked the audience to consider what they can contribute to form a new media culture leading to world peace based upon the core pillars of interdependence, co-prosperity and universal values. The core values of The Washington Times are faith, family, freedom, service and citizenship, he said: these principles guide the company and are embedded in its DNA. According to Dr. McDevitt, The Times is read by all the power elites in Washington; both sides of the aisle [in Congress] read The Times because of its trustworthiness. The Times recently was declared the No. 5 most trustworthy news outlet in a poll in the United States. Dr. McDevitt showed a photo of U.S. President Donald Trump on board Air Force One sitting at a desk with his arm on a stack of newspapers, and The Washington Times was the top newspaper.
The International Media Association for Peace is a non-profit media association that will cover the entire world. There will be a conference in Seoul next February for 500 media professionals. He asked the audience to imagine a global network of media professionals who share a common value perspective, driving toward peace. He said he believed there is a time coming soon when we can create a new tipping point and look at the big questions. We will see what other people don’t see, hear what other people don’t hear. Media professionals can be the leading professionals to change the behavior of the world.
H.E. May Chidiac expressed that we are witnessing the burgeoning of freedom around the world. Nevertheless, freedom of the press is deteriorating in unexpected places, such as Europe and North America. Every step toward justice requires sacrifice and suffering. She explained that fourteen years ago, she paid a high price for exposing the dirt and she is still receiving insults and threats on social media for speaking freely. Every year she awards journalists for audacity in reporting. “Freedom never dies”, she said, “and it will never die for me”.
Dr. Chidiac expressed that she thought that non-violent protests could exist only in books, but 100,000 people are now protesting Lebanon. For the first time people are not afraid to speak out. She also mentioned incidents of violence against journalists in Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia, including murder. Journalists in Europe have also been killed or attacked.
Dr. Predrag Vujović began by expressing that many changes are taking place in the media. The Internet, online media, and social media have a large influence on public opinion. Millennials and Generation Z are not influenced by the mass media. Nowadays, there is only one newspaper in Serbia judged to be neutral and free. The media world depends on those who have power.
Dr. Predrag Vujović explained that UPF has a number of potential strong points, including family values, character education, living for the sake of others, interculturalism and multiculturalism. All the principles of UPF are principles of communication. UPF is a communication centered organization and UPF’s principles are the main principles for everyone.
Mr. Lutfi Dervishi referred to the Japanese film Rashomon, in which four persons recount different versions of a murder. He went to explain that all of the news on television is about political conflict and asked the question, “Is this the way the media should operate in the future”? If you ask about the situation of the media in Albania in one word, the answer is “good”, he said, whereas if you ask about the situation of the media in two words, the answer is “not good.”
Why is this? It is because Albania has 25 newspapers, 56 TV channels, 67 radio stations and 200 cable portals. In terms of quantity, we are good. In terms of quality, we are not good. TV shows a lot of information, but not much news. It is good, because we have a very good code of ethics, but it is not good, because it’s only on paper; it’s not practiced.
The best days of journalism were in the early 1990s. If we do not analyze the changes in the media, we risk not understanding the future. Some things that were unthinkable 10 or 15 years ago are now unavoidable. Who thought that we could not separate the message and the messenger? In social media, more important than the content are the “clicks” or how many “likes” one receives. The audience has changed its behavior. The media have gone from a watchdog role to a lapdog role. In the 21st century, we need to make a paradigm shift from problem-oriented to solution-oriented. We need more fact-checking. Agencies check the quality of our food, but we need someone to check the spiritual quality of the media. Will journalism serve the power or will it serve the truth? The truth will set everyone free.