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How to empower the young Generations of Europe?

Europe@debate: The Role of New Social and Digital Media in the European Public Sphere
September 01, 2014

Europe has to be a «citizen projec»” in order to succeed. It needs fresh ideas and innovative concepts as well as a strong supportive base from among its younger generations. These ideas were presented at the FutureLab Europe seminar and debate in Oslo today. Outstanding alumni from ten European Foundations have been selected as the key players in FutureLab Europe. 

How to empower the young Generations of Europe?Dr. Gregor Peter Schmitz and Ms. Lisbeth Kirk

In FutureLab Europe ten Foundations combine their knowledge and experience of civil society. From their outstanding alumni they select participants who offer great potential for Europe.

The Europe debate and seminar today was hosted in Oslo by Fritt Ord, a Norwegian foundation for freedom of speech. The questions that were asked were: Is there a generational divide in the European media landscape of today? On which arenas are European citizens most likely to engage in political debates? Can social media open up a new space for discussing the European Project? 

A FutureLab position paper by FutureLab participants Enja Sæthren and Doru Toma on The Role of New Social and Digital Media in the European Public Sphere was presented with three focuses: Deocracy, identity and equality in Europe. They maintained that Europe needs to give room for the younger generations.

Keynote addresses were presented by Dr. Gregor Peter Schmitz, Editor of the reknown and traditional German newsmagazine, Der Spiegel, and Ms. Lisbeth Kirk, founder and editor of the digital new medium, EU Observer. They discussed different ways in which the strengths of traditional and new digital media can be combined and utilized to engage the population, especialy the youth.

Gregor Peter Schmitz focused on why it's difficult to engage the people with EU politics: Lack of symbols, of common language and common media. He warned that social media is still used by a very selective group of young people and journalists only. 

Lisbeth Kirk said that «Crossborder journalism helps journalists working in countries where the freedom of the press is not as strong».  She also said: «When traditional and social media work together instead of against each other it can contribute to a debate». And: «We are hungry for news of Europe, just not news from Brussels. Include what is happening in the member states!»

The ensuing debate between panelists and seminar participants on The Web as a Public Space, engaged the 50+ participants at the FutureLab Europe event today. The discussions centered around how the young generation can be more involved through a combination of old and new media. But as social media researcher Bente Kalsnes said: -We don´t know enough yet about the efficiency of social media, largely because Facebook, Twitter and other new media use algorythms that are kept secret. 

The panel: Sten Inge Jørgensen, Bente Kalsnes, Stephan Kool Kati Temonen, and Kait Bolongaro. Moderator: Øyvind Solstad.
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