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Concordia sends a delegation to the 7th annual Thessaloniki International Summer Media Academy

Two journalism undergrads travel to Greece with Professor Aphrodite Salas for a pilot summer field school
October 13, 2023

A group of around 40 people gathered in a gymnasium and smiling for the camera Participants and presenters from around the world gathered for the closing remarks of the seventh annual Thessaloniki International Summer Media Academy. | Photo: Giannis Triantafyllidis

Isabelle Devi Poirier and Lucas Marsh are undergraduate students in Concordia’s journalism program. They wrote this report on their experience in Greece.

We were the first Concordia journalism students to attend the Thessaloniki International Media Summer Academy (THISAM), thanks to the collaborative efforts of our professor Aphrodite Salas and Concordia International.

The annual event, which took place in July, brings together practicing journalists, academics and students from around the globe to discuss and exchange knowledge of new and emerging trends in the global media industry.

Cooperative journalism

Nikos Panagiotou, associate professor at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and founder of THISAM, says he created the event in response to the ongoing challenges currently facing the journalism industry.

By offering a space for journalists from around the world to meet and share their experiences, THISAM serves to prepare participants to deal with challenges in their respective communities, he says.

“Having in mind the crisis in which journalism is in, it is more than important to look at local solutions through a global aspect,” Panagiotou adds.

“Unless we adopt a model of cooperative journalism, unless we adopt a model of addressing the topics through cooperation, as well as exchange of knowledge, it will be very difficult for media organizations to come out of this crisis.”

Collaborative projects

Originally a coalition of four universities, THISAM now partners with 15 universities across the world. Panagiotou expresses the desire to deepen the conference’s ties with Concordia.

“We’re looking forward to partnering with Concordia University, due to (Canada’s) reputation as well as its established institutions.”

Institutions are selected to participate in THISAM based on their journalistic curriculum. Professors from aspiring institutions are then invited to attend the conference alongside some of their students.

Once they become THISAM partner universities, institutions are encouraged to take on joint initiatives throughout the year. “We don’t consider Thessaloniki International Media Summer Academy as a one-off event, but actually an event through which a new cooperation model starts,” Panagiotou says.

A group of 13 people gathr together for an evening photo in a lit courtyard. THISAM participants and presenters gathered for a night walk at Aristotelous Square through the central hub of Thessaloniki. Cultural exchange and integration remains a central principle of THISAM. | Photo by Aphrodite Salas

An international learning opportunity

Salas established a relationship with Aristotle University when she was invited to give a virtual media literacy training at THISAM in 2020. She also attended the conference virtually in 2021 and presented in person in 2022.

After Salas recognized the shared strengths of the two universities and their respective journalism programs, Aristotle University and Concordia signed a formal memorandum of understanding in 2022, enabling student exchanges and collaboration on projects.

This agreement lay the groundwork for allowing journalism students from Concordia to travel to Greece for course credit.

In July 2023 at THISAM, Salas presented her research on moving towards a more inclusive way of doing journalism, screening her documentary on Inuit clean energy initiatives in the Canadian Arctic to the international delegation.

“I was able to talk about things that I’m very passionate about, and share work from this part of the world that I think a lot of the participants weren’t aware of,” says Salas. “The exchange was wonderful, and it was the first time that we had Canadian students in the group, which was amazing as well.”

Financial support

Salas was able to obtain financial aid for the Concordia delegation through Concordia International. With its assistance, we applied for and received the Quebec Mobility Bursary, which helped fund our trip.

Next year, Salas hopes students’ travel and living expenses will be fully funded through various bursaries and scholarship opportunities.

“I think that these kinds of opportunities should be open to every student,” she says. “I really wanted to provide an opportunity for students to come to this summer academy. I wanted them to receive course credit and I wanted it to be financially possible for anyone.”

In future years, Salas also hopes to bring a bigger group of students.

“This was kind of a pilot field school,” she explains. “So this summer was really all about seeing if this was going to be possible moving forward, and I think we learned that not only is it possible, but it’s a fantastic opportunity for Concordia students.”

New connections

During the academy, we were able to meet other journalism students from around the world. Ulianna, a Russian journalist and graduate student, was at the conference for her second time.

She expresses her appreciation for the new learning initiatives introduced this year, as well as the connections she made.

“It’s always nice to see professionals and lecturers, teachers from all over the world and communicate with them not only during the lectures, but also after the lectures. And it’s always nice to meet new journalists and make new connections.”

For his part, Panagiotou is pleased to have Canadian journalists participate in the event for the first time.

“My mom is Greek Canadian, so I have a special relation with Canada,” he says. “I have relatives in Canada as well.”

He hopes Concordia’s involvement with the conference will continue into the coming years. “It can actually bring to the table a different perspective.”

Read the reports prepared by students Isabelle Devi Poirier (Concordia journalism student explores the impact of extreme heat on health and travel) and Lucas Marsh (Greece is gradually disintegrating its refugee support system, reports Concordia journalism student).

Find out more about Concordia's Department of Journalism


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