How Media Becomes an Agent for Change

The 2023 Adenauer Media Leaders Academy conference was an enriching experience with industry experts, practical training, newsroom visits, and of course networking.

The Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) Media Programme Asia—a German foundation that supports the training of journalists towards a free, ethical, and responsible press—continued the discourse on cross border journalism and cybersecurity of journalists during its annual Adenauer Media Leaders Academy (AMLA) conference.

Set in a valley surrounded by the Himalayan mountains, the 2023 AMLA conference was held in the heart of Nepal, in Kathmandu. The conference was spread across a two-day schedule on 6 and 7 September 2023 at the time capsule of Nepalese architecture, Baber Mahal Vilas – The Heritage Hotel.

The Baithak Meeting Hall of the hotel brought the fresh fellows and the alumni of KAS together for some exciting discussions, interactions, quizzes, assignments, and games. It was like one big family, bridging countries across the South Asian and Southeast Asian region.

Welcoming the fellows a night before the conference began, the director of KAS Media Programme Asia Ansgar Graw highlighted the crucial significance of maintaining cross-border networks with journalists. As these fellows from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Philippines, Thailand, Mongolia, Malaysia, and Taiwan heard him speak, they could not help but concur on how Konrad Adenauer Stiftung has successfully helped them achieve this goal.

The evening was full of the zest and vigour of meeting old and new friends. With hearts brimming with thrill and stomachs full of the feast of maharajas, the participants called it a day.


The first day began with an introduction to the conference by the project manager of KAS Media Programme Asia, Lisa Wlaschek. It was followed by the formal opening of the conference by Ansgar Graw.

The event kickstarted with the editor-in-chief of the Nepali newspaper, Nagarik National Daily, Guna Raj Luitel. He welcomed everyone to his land and commenced his presentation titled ‘Is Media an Agent for Change in Nepal?’ He began his discussion with the history of media in Nepal, educated the participants on Nepal’s Black Day and how the Nepalese fought through it to reach the stage where media is today. He underlined the strength of legacy media and highlighted how the media in Nepal is trying to ‘poke use of IT Revolution’.

Next speaker of the day was the senior multiplatform journalist of ABS-CBN, Jacque Manabat. She directed the discussion to a very relevant topic, ‘Digital Hygiene and Cybersecurity for Journalists’. She became a gamemaster, enlightening the participants with multiple fun quizzes and games to educate fellow journalists on how to maintain their digital hygiene and stay vigilant for any kind of cyber-attack. 

The event was succeeded by a networking session conducted by Lisa Wlaschek. The fellows were rotated at intervals of five minutes wherein they had the opportunity to get to know each other.

This was followed by the latest addition to the AMLA agenda—a visit to newsrooms. The participants were taken to the Republica newsroom where they interacted with the CEO of Nepal Republic Media, Sambridhi Gyawali. After this, the gang went to the newsroom of Nepal Investigative Multimedia Journalism Network (NIMJN). Hosted by Rajneesh Bhandari, the participants got to know about NIMJN and its work, which was followed by an interactive Q&A session. The day was wrapped up with a dinner at the multicuisine Toran Restaurant in The Dwarika’s Hotel.


Lisa Wlaschek welcomed everyone on the second and final day of the conference. She gave the stage to the lecturer at the Centre for Excellence in Journalism, IBA Pakistan and the editor of Dawn.com, Shahzeb Ahmed Hashim.

Hashim began by explaining the idea of cross-border journalism and localising it to the respective locations. He assigned one issue to each country present at the conference. The issues revolved around freedom of speech, political instability, impact of climate change, treatment of gendered, ethnic, and religious minorities, among others. The fellows of each country had to present a short overview of what the situation is pertaining to the assigned factor in their country. All the dialogues were followed by a discussion where other countries drew parallels on that topic. He then elaborated on different degrees of networking that can come handy in cross-border reporting.

This was followed by a practical training session where some story pitches were selected, and fellows could choose the topic they wanted to be a part of. This led to seven diverse groups on different topics. These groups prepared and presented their idea of cross-border reporting on their topic, pointed out comparisons and similarities of the situation across countries and demonstrated how these stories could be localised in their own respective regions.

After a long and detailed presentation and feedback by Shahzeb and Ansgar, the participants went on to a final dinner together to Mezze by Roadhouse. Ansgar Graw offered the closing remarks, leaving all of us looking forward to #AMLA24.

With heavy hearts, amazement of the past two days, and an excitement for the next year, fellows of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Media Programme Asia parted ways and bid farewell to khadas and aila (traditional Nepalese cloth and local liquor), some to explore the beauty of Nepal, and others to continue their journalistic practices with more sensitivity and awareness than before.

About the author

Navneeta Nandan

Navneeta Nandan, journalist at The Economic Times in India, is an alumna of the Asian College of Journalism, under the KAS Media Programme. She is passionate about investigations and often likes to pour her heart out in words and poems.

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