“Telling the Whole Story”: AMMPE’s Take on the Art of Storytelling in their First Congress in the UK
AMMPE was founded in 1969 in Mexico by the Mexican writer and journalist, Gloria Salas de Calderon. As a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), the organisation currently has thirty seven international member states and has close ties with the United Nations. Members include well-known women journalists and writers from CNN, the BBC, Al-Jazeera Television, and PEN International.
The goals of AMMPE are:
- To provide an international network for women writers and journalists.
- To raise awareness of the issues affecting journalism and writing in general, and women in particular.
- To promote gender diversity in these areas.
The organisation holds an international biannual congress to facilitate the AMMPE’s objectives and develop strong networks among its members. So far twenty one international conferences have taken place in different cities of its member countries.
Past Congress’ include the XIV- Congress on The Value of Education in 21st century journalism (1998) in Athens, Greece and the XXI- Congress on The role of women in the World (2014) in Querétaro, México (2014).
The previous Congress, took place at the Catholic University in Santiago, Chile in 2016 and was centred on the theme of Journalism: transparency and democracy – the impact of digital innovation in mass communication, advertising, literature, social networks and drones.
The presidency of the AMMPE rotates every two years, and its biannual Congress is held in relevant country. The current presidency is the UK, and this year’s Congress took place in London.
Sarah Gibson, is the current President of AMMPE and overseer of the XXIII Worldwide Association of Women Journalists and Writers 2018. She is also the Chief Operating Officer at Celebro Media Studios.
Previously, she was a senior editor at the BBC World Service, and co-founder of the Global Women in News network in the BBC which has 1,400 members.
This year’s Congress took place between 6th and 9th November in the UK. Journalists and writers from across Latin America, Africa and Asia were represented as well as media companies such as Sky News, CNN, Channel 4 and the BBC who delivered panels across the days of the Congress.
Other experts included award-winning novelist, Elif Shafak, author of the ‘The Bastard of Istanbul’ and ‘The Architect’s Apprentice’ and Dr Helen Pankhurst, a leading women’s rights campaigner and great-granddaughter of suffragette leader, Emmeline Pankhurst. Both led panels at the BBC for Day 1 of the Congress.
In their efforts to further women’s rights across the globe, the AMMPE interviews women heads of state to inspire other women to participate in public affairs and politics. In February 2018, the President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, was interviewed by then President of the Worldwide Association of Women Journalists and Writers (AMMPE), Julia Eugenia Martínez, now head of the AMMPE branch in Chile.
In 1986, Taiwan became a formal association member of AMMPE, and is one of organisation’s most active members, hosting the AMMPE biannual Congress in 1996, 2006, and 2012. The Taiwanese Embassy also sponsored the screening of two short films during the Day 2 conference at City, University London and the hosted the subsequent reception.
City, University London
City, University London has a “long track record” in producing graduates who go on to work in news organisations across the world while a number of their academics are also engaged in research on areas related to the question of gender in the newsroom.
The Journalism Department at City University London hosted Day 2’s conference on ‘Journalism Emerging Stories’ with distinguished guest speakers such as Dorothy Byrne, Head of News and Current Affairs at Channel 4 and Rima Maktabi, London Bureau Chief of Al Arabiya pan Arab TV Channel.
Byrnes led the ‘Work Culture in the News Rooms, Gender Equality’ panel alongside Suzanne Franks, Head of the Department of Journalism at City University of London. She spoke on her personal experiences with sexism and ageism within the industry and her latest endeavour to mentor young females within the profession.
Other panels included ‘Women in News’ that was led by Professor Jane Martinson, Dept of Journalism at City University London and former Women’s editor at the Guardian. Louise Hastings (left), Sky New’s Managing editor was also in attendance on the panel. The panel covered the Expert Women Research project, which looks at the leading flagship news programmes and number of women who are both journalists and experts.
The results of the research found that in 2012, there were at least four times as many male experts interviewed on these programmes as women.
The research was undertaken by Professor Lis Howell, Director of Broadcasting at City. Howell, surveyed five weekday episodes from the six flagship news programmes produced by the UK’s leading broadcasters – BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky – for one week in every month over a two-year period.
It is certain that men still dominate in flagship news, but not as much as they did. For Howell, the ratio of women to men experts in broadcasting has improved by 30 per cent since 2016.
Google News Initiative
Since 2015, Google have trained around 110,000 journalists through the Google News Initiative.
The ‘Digital Storytelling Trends and Lessons’ panel brought together a diverse group of experts to talk through various aspects of digital storytelling from the BBC’s use of Virtual Reality to Twitter.
The guest speakers included an array of industry experts such as Radharani Mitra, National Creative Director and Executive Director in India for BBC Media Action, and Camila Ruz, Zoologist and Scientific Journalist. Mitra spoke on transmedia storytelling and her work on Ebola while Ruz debuted her new Virtual Reality simulation, Is Anna Ok?, as a part of the BBC’s new initiative to produce digital documentaries on human experiences and the wider world.
The VR documentary and simulation is based on the real story of twins, Anna and Lauren, who’s relationship significantly changed after Anna suffered from a brain injury. The simulation adopts both Anna and Lauren’s perspective of the same events.
The ‘Freedom of Expression in the World’ panel was equally moving with guest speaker Paula Slier speaking on the battlefronts across borders and advocates for finding common ground between Russian and Ukrainian journalists.
In the ‘Freedom of Expression in the World’ panel, Paula Slier from Russia Today spoke on filling a niche within the market of factual storytelling. Slier asserted that we, the people, want to see a different view of stories that are not accessible on Western mainstream media and is therefore left out of public dis-courses. She also expressed a deep concern towards the vulnerability of women journalists extending beyond the coverage of conflict zones to censorship.
“journalists are no longer perceived as messengers of stories but are merely targets” she said.
Altogether, the sessions across the days of the Congress provided an insight into the ever-changing world of journalism from technological innovations to international relations and gender equality.
The Congress concluded at the University of Kent and a trip to Rochester.