During the Eid al-Adha break, I had the opportunity to visit Limassol for the three-day Advanced Media Institute Conference (AMIRetreat 2017). It was both an opportunity to engage in dynamic conversations about “Journalism, Society and Politics in the Digital Media Era,” but also to enjoy some rest and relaxation in this lovely Cyprian city.

The interdisciplinary conference was held at the Cyprus University of Technology and brought together an inspiring mix of academics, journalists, and practitioners to discuss the impact of technology on journalism—and its relationship to politics, economics, societies and communities. It was also an opportunity for researchers to discuss advances in digital journalism and its implications on the production of news practice, content, and consumer behavior.

The first keynote presentation by author, researcher, and academic—Nico Carpentier—introduced the notion of rethinking journalism from a democratic-normative perspective and encouraged us all to “get help where we can find it.” The following day, keynote speaker Paul Mihailidis asked the audience to re-imagine media literacy for civic engagement and cultivate mechanisms for caring and critical consciousness. Along with these ideas, he shared some powerful quotes from internet social activist, Wael Ghonim, including:

“I once said, ‘If you want to liberate a society, all you need is the Internet.’ I was wrong … the same tool that united us to topple dictators eventually tore us apart.”

“Our digital experiences favour broadcasting over engagement, posts over discussions, shallow commitment over deep interaction. We talk at, not with.”

During the conference, I was honored to present a paper that examined the discourse around migrant workers in Qatar’s digital media, with an aim to understand (1) tone (2) thematic content; and (3) argumentative strategies within news reports. The study examined communication themes and neglected dimensions in digital journalism by linking frame theory to critical discourse analysis. This ongoing research aims to stimulate debate about the need for communication rights advocacy and the appropriation of digital news media as a site of struggle for migrant workers.

On a final note, I would like to thank the organisers of the conference, our esteemed hosts, the dynamic keynote speakers, and all the participants for a wonderful event!