Advocacy, Communication, Free Expression, Governance, Journalism, Media, Public policy, Technology


   Organized by the Center for Media, Data and Society (CMDS) at the Central European University (CEU)

Course date

29 June - 3 July, 2020
14 February, 2020
Course Director(s): 

Eva Bognar

Center for Media, Data and Society, School of Public Policy, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Marius Dragomir

Center for Media, Data and Society, School of Public Policy, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary
Course Faculty: 

Lindsay Green-Barber

Impact Architects, San Francisco, United States of America

Davor Marko

Analitika Center for Social Research, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina/ Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Belgrade, Serbia

Ros Taylor

Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom

Susan Valentine

Open Society Foundations, Program on Independent Journalism, London, United Kingdom

Daniela White

Open Society Foundations, Program on Independent Journalism, London, United Kingdom
Course Coordinator: 

Mihaela Groza

Center for Media, Data and Society, School of Public Policy, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Journalism is facing a deep crisis of public trust. Some say it is more serious than the financial crisis that has clobbered news media over the course of the past decade. But the two, in fact, are deeply connected: subscriptions or various forms of memberships seem to be the only business model that works in this new era of journalism, and there is a close link between people’s decision to pay for news and the level of trust they have in the news product they buy and the people who make it. Thus, effectively engaging with audiences is key in keeping news media and journalism initiatives afloat.

The aim of this course is to provide participants with in-depth understanding of the most effective methods of audience engagement in journalism. The course will have a strong practical element focusing on skills, strategies and tactics used to attract audiences to quality journalism. The course is fit primarily for media practitioners (journalists, social media and marketing experts as well as newsroom managers); activists and advocates who work with media or engage directly with audiences; media researchers who study trust and business models; and policy experts who work on media literacy projects.

Course structure and objectives
The goal of the course is to equip participants with substantive knowledge and strategic skills to address one of the biggest challenges journalism is facing: declining audience trust.

The objectives of the course are, then, to:

1.    Provide advanced training and practical skill building to enable participants to engage effectively with audiences;
2.    Provide a forum for policy experts, activists and journalists to come together and discuss strategies to advance media literacy;
3.    Provide a forum for knowledge, experience and skill sharing of tactics, techniques and case studies of working and engaging with audiences;
4.     Identify a core group of scholars working in this area and nurture their research interests and capabilities with the aim of future collaborations amongst faculty, course participants, organizations and CEU;  
5.    Gain hands-on experience to develop strategies aimed at building loyal audiences;
7.    Develop the network of researchers and practitioners engaged in studying and responding to the adverse effects of declining trust.

Sessions will feature a mix of lectures, group discussions, hands-on practicums, as well as a field trip within Budapest to meet with organizations engaged with work in this field. The course will be organized thematically across each day, building from macro issues and broad overviews to specific target topics and case studies, including introduction to different research methods and technologies. The teaching style will be interactive and participatory. In the afternoons we will organize hands-on skill-building sessions. Participants will come away with a deeper understanding of key literature, scholars, networks, and projects related to the topic of the school, which will be of use to them in their scholarship and applied work back home.

In order to maximize the output and opportunities for participants, the course will have a maximum of 20-25 students.  

Building the CMDS network, enhancing existing partnerships, and continued opportunity for collaboration with partners

The topic of the course is at the core of the activities and research the CMDS is engaged with. Organizing the course helps place CEU at the center of a developing network of academics and practitioners working in the field of media freedom, journalism and media policy advocacy. The personal and professional connections developed during the summer schools in the past have provided invaluable opportunities for networking with key experts in the field as well as forging new relationships with both faculty and students, which has resulted in new research projects and collaborators. We continue to work with students who have come through the course. This course has thus played an instrumental role in the development of the CMDS. When we run into SUN alum at conferences or other events, we are always taken aback a bit by the impact the course has had on participants, for their own networking and professional growth.

The course is also a significant opportunity for us to connect with media outlets, scholars and research centers we are seeking closer ties with, as well as representatives from key donor and civil society groups (last year we had two potential funders and two additional field experts fund themselves to come visit the course and have the opportunity to meet the participants).

The course also provides for the opportunity to bring participants on field trips to local partner organizations such as community station Tilos Radio, Átlátszó, and CEU's Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives.

This summer course is financed through tuition fees and will not be able to offer any scholarships or tuition waivers.