Jane Dodd, PRINZ President
Putting people at the center of our communications lens, rather than organisations or profits was the challenge from Wadah Khanfar, of the Al Sharq Forum and former director of the Al Jazeera Network. In his opening keynote address to the 800+ delegates, from 29 countries at the World PR Forum in Melbourne, he inspired the global audience to be leaders of change, not simply managers.
As he said today, history is being made by ordinary people, while previously people in positions of power and leadership led change. Social networks have allowed democracy through communication networks that by their very nature are egalitarian. The “dissociated elite” as he referred to them, are no longer automatically entitled to dictate change.
Wadah’s vision for the newsroom of the future sees the stories from real people delivered by excellent editors who are thinkers, analysts and futurists. Editors who capture these stories will do so in ways that build our collective knowledge, but more importantly, allow us to form our own opinions.
His own network chose to report from the room of a family who had lost loved ones in conflict, or from the school of the girls who were not allowed to be educated – the personal frontline.
During his tenure at Al Jazeera, this new international news network rose from being an unknown newcomer to a recognised leader.
‘Communicating across borders’ was the WPRF theme, but ‘people first’ was the message to take home if we are to achieve this.