I am studying Media-Management in St.Pölten, Austria, and before I started school I had never really had an approach to the media industry before. I listened to the songs on the radio and watched the news on the TV but I never had an idea what the real meaning of media is, what they actually do and what it takes to produce media. Media therefore became a very important part of my life. I learned how the media market operates, what the rise of the new media means and also what big business it actually is. As much as I learned about the omnipresence of media and what they do, I also reaalized how powerful media actually are — in so many different ways. In Austria we have the saying that media are the fourth force. Even in my last job at Austrian’s biggest public news broadcasting corporation as an editorial assistant I was confronted with gatekeeping, which means that editors choose from a big range of options which news to broadcast to the public and which not — that is powerful. But not only that also how certain messages are being portrayed to the public can manipulate and create nonobjective and misleading images.
Europe is witnessing one of the biggest immigration waves ever. People with different language, religion, values and cultures are entering Austria. This creates fears, uncertainties, doubts and feelings of rejection. The media play a crucial role in this most pressing humanitarian crisis of our times. By providing information on current developments, they shape the public’s opinion. The media are expected to present facts, first hand experiences and multiple perspectives. In times of uncertainty and fear, they should act as a positive force. However, media no longer offer a one-way channel for information. They serve as a platform to express opinions and ideas. They enable us to exchange information or share views with people from all over the world, which is beneficial, but harbors some risks and dangers. Agenda setting and framing can destroy an objective view within seconds. People’s minds are often created upon information that is not objective, on the contrary, it is little researched and might even bear stereotypes.
Migration has a very big impact on me and also on Austria. Thousands of refugees are trying to find asylum here as well as a “new” home. The individual stories you hear of people who came to Europe are shocking, devastating and cruel. We don’t know what it means to flee because of war, we don’t know what it means to take the highest risks in order to just flee and get to a safer place. We don’t know because we live in a safe place — but these people don’t. My family adopted a refugee kid named Kadour, who once told me that during his journey he had almost drowned three times and was betrayed by human smugglers. He also told me about a woman who undertook the journey with her three daughters, of which two drowned. I sometimes give Kadour German classes and then we talk about various things. In the community where I come from and where I was born the people are very open minded. It is a place on the countryside a little outside of Graz. There is a refugee home and people volunteer to help by donating clothes and money. In difficult times like these people hold together and want to help, which is not everywhere in Austria like that. I spend a lot of time in that community. We try to figure out how we can help the refugees and spend time with them or give them German classes. That is also how I met Kadour, who is basically a family member by now. I see my community every weekend and during the week we communicate via a Facebook group in order to make plans or just chat.