There’s something extremely humbling about Scotland: a sense of community, of collaboration, and of life just getting on.
I was in Edinburgh this weekend for Future News Worldwide 2017 – an international conference where 100 student journalists from across the world gathered in the Scottish Parliament to talk all things news with media professionals. After visiting Glasgow in May, it was great to be back on Scottish soil so soon.
The adventure began on Wednesday. After landing arriving at Edinburgh Airport, I was quick to jump on a bus – along with fellow delegate, Veronika – straight to our accommodation for the week: Brae House.
The room was by no means unfamiliar to me. As a student accommodation block (run by a company which used to be the landlord for my flat in Lincoln) it was a pleasant environment to call home for the next 5 days.
Bags were unpacked, then it wasn’t long before we all made the short walk towards the Scottish Parliament for drinks and networking. Nestled under the shadow of King Arthur’s Seat, the very post-modern building was such an amazing venue for the conference. Also, as a devout political nerd, stepping foot in the place responsible for Scottish democracy left me buzzing throughout the event. It’s needless to say that I was quick to take up the offer of a free tour when that became available on Friday…
A quick change of clothes and I had another opportunity to get to know some of the other 100 delegates (chosen out of over 2,000 applicants) that won the competition. It was a night filled with drinks, good music, and good company.
Then came the two days of the conference, which were so jam-packed full of insightful talks that this post would become an essay if I mentioned them all in detail. Journalists from The Sunday Times, The Economist and BBC World Service were just some of the people to speak to us – highlights included an interview session with an award-winning BBC documentary maker, a data report from the Reuters Institute and workshops with Google and Facebook.
The conference ended with plenty of new business cards, two new tote bags (which I just managed to squeeze into my suitcase), plenty of new friendships and some opportunities to pursue in the future.
After two days of receiving a lot of information from media professionals, a day of tourism yesterday offered some respite. It started with a walking tour of the city, stopping off on The Royal Mile, Parliament House, and a graveyard which inspired famous Harry Potter characters. I spent the whole of yesterday and Friday with Neil, a good friend of mine who I rarely get to see because of long distance.
Sadly, I couldn’t make it out for one last party with everyone, but I still had time for some celebrations on the Friday night. I also had time to explore King Arthur’s Seat, which boasted incredible views.
As I get ready to board my flight from Edinburgh Airport, my mind flashes back to what was said during one of the opening speeches at the start of the conference about the aim of Future News Worldwide. Whilst the actual speech itself has slipped my mind, I believe the event was all about collaboration, breaking down barriers, and campaigning for change through the world of journalism.
The past two days were the start of some wonderful new friendships around the world. Looking ahead, now is the time for me to learn more about their countries, educate myself, and collaborate with others who are also passionate about reporting.
As the British Council said on Twitter: “The future of journalism is in good hands.”