Idea of the Hi!ke is to connect media makers – mainly journalists – and their audiences to meet in an unusual setting and discuss how media can better approach socially important and often sensitive topics, and how media can gain or regain trust of people, which is being eroded by distorted information and unprofessional media. Each of them is paying an attention to modern and solutions-oriented approach and ways of how people can engage with the media in the best ways and have their say when it comes to the agenda. In this context, digital technologies provide an important helping hand.

Since one of the Hi!ke partners, ICNM from Austria, is focusing on positive social impact and organised the European Young Innovators Festival in Graz on April 26 to 28, 2023, it was quite easy decision to move location of second Hi!ke from Slovakia to the capital of Styria, one of the federal states of Austria. Raffael Reithofer, who participated in strategic planning meeting in Lithuania and works as a journalist mainly in Graz, helped to organise the event and was the main tour guide.

Connection with the festival allowed Media4Change representatives to present Media for Citizens Story Lab and their other activities focused on media innovations to international participants of the festival and draw their attention to Hi!ke, during which some digital tools were presented and shared as well.

Whole H!ke took place in the historical city centre of Graz on April 29, 2023, and brought together 26 participants from Slovakia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Austria, Montenegro, Germany, Bulgaria, Greece, and Romania. It had 4 main stops, each dedicated to one specific topic. However, participants took more breaks to enjoy the city’s atmosphere as well. First stop of the tour was in the Volksgarten park, where participants shortly talked about about populism and extremism in politics and society and then moved to the main topic: freedom of press and protest against shutdown of the printed version of the Wiener Zeitung. This world’s oldest newspaper based in Vienna and owned by the government ended its daily print edition in 2023 after 320 years of work because of small revenues. It was very interesting to hear about the newspaper and issues around it, as Raffael organised the protest in Vienna just a few days before the Hi!ke.

Then the participants stopped by the Kunsthaus, an exhibition centre. There they had time to refresh before next stop at Schlossbergplatz, where they talked about environment and explored interactive tools that can be used to cover it well. They also learnt about Czechoslovak short movie Oil Gobblers, which creatively uses misinformation to draw attention to environmental issues in 1980s.

On top of the hill in the city centre, near Uhrturm tower, the discussion revolved around topic of minorities and populism in Austria. Participants learnt about situation of Slovenian minority in the Austrian state of Carinthia and politics of Jörg Haider, who was controversial politician and Governor of Carinthia (until 2008).

During lunch, which was also the last stop of the Hi!ke, the focus was dedicated to engaged, solution, and citizen journalism. Representatives of Media4Change presented the virtual community and online ideas market, where registered users can exchange proposals on better media coverage of various stories and their characters and how to have audience in the centre.

European Dialogue was happy to be involved in the preparation of the tour and to participate on the spot as well. Its team would like to thank the coordinator of the Media for Citizens Story Lab project, Media4Change from Lithuania, and the project partners, StampMedia from Belgium, ICNM from Austria and Mladiinfo Montenegro for the great Hi!ke experience.

Media for Citizens Story Lab is a project aiming to empower media makers to connect with their audience, highlight important topics, and move media forward together. This project has been funded by the EU programme Europe for Citizens.

Title picture:, WFranz

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