On September 29, we will host our Community Event at our member iMEdD’s International Journalism Forum, in Athens.
The word forum is a magical word.
It is, because it conjures images of vast crowds, active communication, energy and change. It brings us to a place. “Providing a forum:” for debate, for questions to be answered, for critiques to be raised, for words to be heard.
Of course, many words have this power. But the word forum is a magical word also because it reached intact our New Millennium. It wasn’t transformed by the various languages that ruled our cultural worlds. A great deal of different languages use the word forum as it is, not producing a so-called calque (for example, the French word déjeuner became breakfast, in English).
The word forum came to us untouched from the Latin and originates from another Latin word, fores, “(outside) door.” A forum is nothing more than “the place that is outside of doors,” in public, for the people to inhabit. Moving even more back in time, we trace it back to the Proto-Indo-European term *dʰworom, “enclosure, courtyard, i.e. something enclosed by the door.”
In this sense, many spaces are outside of closed doors, but over its evolution, this word has come to be used to indicate a space where people meet to talk about something, to share opinions, to trade goods, to make important decisions. Politics, economy, democracy, all took place in the forum.
A magical place.
A winning match: the forum for journalists
Conversely, the word journalism is a very recent one. It originates from the French term journal, a “daily publication,” which did not always have the meaning we nowadays attribute to journalism. It is only in the early 19th Century that we started to use the word journalism to indicate the profession of recording daily facts for the public to read.
And yet, these two terms fit so perfectly together.
A forum is a place where things happen, where choices are presented, where opinions fly fast and the future is shaped. In our Millennium, the size of such a forum is huge, immense, and it only takes an Internet connection to join in and grab the information we need, and leave our opinion.
Journalism needs a forum. It is a profession made of individuals and groups that seek important stories, with the only goal of putting such stories right into the space where public opinion is formed. The place where all their audiences are.
iMEdD International Journalism Forum
So we are granted two powerful words: forum and journalism. One ancient as ancient are the roots of our civilization, the other as new as the Enlightenment movement of the early 19th Century.
One has to try and use them in the same sentence! And that is what iMEdD is doing, in September in Athens, bringing together journalists and media professionals from all over the world in a forum for journalism and journalists. Some intense days of conversations, panels, presentations, exhibitions in a crowded space with no doors, entirely jotting on the outside via the Internet. “Journalism Forum!” we might utter while waving a wand.
We are, as European Press Prize, delighted to have a space in this forum, and we will bring to it our community of hundreds of passionate professionals, to give our contribution to this conversation on freedom and knowledge, which ultimately is for the people.
Because do you know which other word is powerful and magical? Democracy.
Read more about the International Journalism Forum >>
If you are a Laureate and would like to join us in Athens, please send an email to [email protected] with “Community Event participation” as subject.